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Strength in Adversity: portraits of resilience and beauty

World Vision
27 May 2015 by Ilana Rose
Strength in Adversity: portraits of resilience and beauty

This portrait of Mary, headmistress at a World Vision Child Friendly Space in Uganda, is one of many featured in Ilana Rose's photo exhibition 'Strength in Adversity'. Photo by Ilana Rose, World Vision

The ‘Strength in Adversity’ photo exhibition has been inspired by the resilience, dignity and generosity of the people I have met enduring harsh life circumstances during the past three years as a photographer for World Vision. There are stories hidden in their eyes, faces and hands, and within the folds of their clothing, that need to be told to a wide audience. Human struggle is universal, whether it’s played out against a backdrop of the world’s most stunning natural scenery, or contained within the flimsy walls of a temporary shelter.

I’ve been fortunate to share some of these experiences with World Vision Australia’s ambassadors. Read their reflections and see the women that inspired them below.

South Sudan, Juba PoC

Photo by Ilana Rose, World Vision

Melissa Doyle
Journalist & World Vision Ambassador

Siblings, including 3 sets of twins, with their grandmother in their temporary tent shelter in Juba’s Protection of Civilian site, PoC3. The family was forced to flee from the violence that broke out on December 15, 2013 the mother giving birth to her third set of twins while making their way from their home to Juba. They have not heard from the children’s father since leaving their home.

“It is simple and heartfelt, to welcome a visitor into your home. You tidy up, put the kettle on and offer your guest somewhere comfortable to sit. My motivation in Sydney is no different to women living in Africa and Lebanon.

Except in my case it’s my beloved home of 15 years, and for so many women I have met it’s a windblown tent in a dusty refugee camp. I met women with children clinging to their legs at the Dadaab refugee camp in Africa … they had fled the war and famine in Somalia. They walked for weeks with babies in tow until they saw the safety of the camp rising from the dessert.

They too welcome me inside. And apologise.

Women who are hungry, penniless and often widowed. Who have lost babies, seen horror of which they will never speak and fled their homes with nothing.

Nothing but their pride and a mother’s need to create a home for her family, no matter where or how desperate the situation.”

Photo by Ilana Rose, World Vision

Photo by Ilana Rose, World Vision

Jessica Gomes
Model, Actress & World Vision Ambassador

Emelia is a volunteer Guiding Mother. She receives training on health and nutrition from World Vision and visits other mothers to pass on what she has learned. “My children are healthier – they’re cleaner, they wash their hands all the time, their weights and heights have improved and they’re not too small”.

“Women are the passage of life. We are sacred beings in this world, no matter what race, what religion, what class, where we live. We are the future, and we are important. We are all the same. We are one people and one love.

I’m not yet a mother myself. I am a God Mother and an Aunty. One thing really resonated with me in Peru – all women have one goal – to give the best life for their child no matter what their circumstance. I saw women who work so hard to keep their babies safe, happy and healthy. All they want for their children, is for them to go to school, have an education and have fresh food and water. They want shelter and warmth.

Poverty has no race, Poverty has no gender and Poverty has no price. We are full of love and love is infinite. I felt that infinite love from these women and children. I felt authentic love. I felt their joy and their excitement for what lies ahead. I was no more fortunate than them. I felt the exact same way they did about life and what the future holds. These women were so strong and I was inspired by their strength.

They inspired me to have a family of my own and to love deep.”

WVA Ambassador Jules Sebastian visits a cinnamon farm in Weeaketiya ADP, Sri Lanka. Farmer's name is Premadasa, his 75 year old grandmother is Marihamy. World Vision helped the family with farming techniques and how to get their crops to market to lift thier household income.

Photo by Ilana Rose, World Vision

Jules Sebastian
World Vision Ambassador

“The moment I laid eyes on this beautiful woman in Sri Lanka, I felt the tears streaming down my face. I can’t describe what is was about her that made me feel so deeply. It could have been her warmth, her smile, her kind eyes or the way she embraced each and every one of us as she welcomed us to her home. Whatever it was it was so genuine and contagious I couldn’t help but want to spend time with her.

She knew happy. She had such pride in her family and wanted to share that with me and the team from World Vision. She is pictured here with her Granddaughter and she could not have loved anything more! Her sweet and gentle touch to that baby is something that will stay with me forever. Although her home and possessions were humble, she was rich with love and family. I was reminded that those are the most important things we can ever have in life and we should cherish them with all we have. My trip to Sri Lanka was an impactful one. The kindness of the people, their generosity and their zest for life inspire me to this day.”

The ‘Strength in Adversity’ photo exhibition is on at the Depot Gallery in Sydney until the 30th May. 





Ilana Rose Ilana Rose

Ilana is a Photographer and Field Resources Advisor for World Vision Australia.


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