By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: July 7, 2012
Ellen Crystal is in love, all over again, with her camera.
Feeling burned out, the Squamish-based professional photographer had hung her Canon for a few years.
A Vancouver-based charitable organisation, Seva (a Sanskrit word which means service) works to restore sight and prevent blindness in the developing world.
Seva wanted Ellen to document the scale of its efforts in Nepal, from the screening programs at the Geta Eye Hospital in the western city of Dhangadhi, to its field operations spread all across the country.
The scenes of Nepal– milling crowds, the colours, lives lived and played out on street—were all eagerly waiting to be captured, Ellen said.
As the Seva team fanned out across the country to observe eye camps, Ellen trained her camera on the people, and the emotions they undergo as they get back their sight.
As asked by Seva, Ellen took pictures that portray the scale of the operation: From people lining up, getting their eyes tested, preparing for surgery.
But it’s in the portraits that the essence of Nepal and its people is revealed.
Life veins through these still images.
There are kids whose peals of laughter we can almost hear. There are men contemplating the operation room, and there are couples giddy with happiness over restored eyesight.
To describe the smiles and sparkly eyes of young women in her photos would certainly take more than a thousand words .
“It was so inspiring to be there, to feel the gratitude of the people, the positive spirit of the people and the place,” Ellen said.
Ellen took thousands of pictures, creating a montage that she hopes will help Seva show case their work and attract donors.
On their Facebook page and their media kits, Seva is already using images taken by Ellen.
The trip was also a reminder of the power of camera, in this case as a tool of philanthropy.
“The camera is a powerful tool for raising awareness, and it was an honour to be there to capture the incredible spirit of the people and the place,” Ellen said.