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Northland showing for humanitarian photographer Helen Manson’s exhibition

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Helen Manson has travelled the world photographing humanitarian crises.

For 15 years, humanitarian photographer and storyteller Helen Manson has travelled the world capturing images of the world’s most marginalised and vulnerable people.

While on the frontlines of various humanitarian crises, she worked with Isis wives in Iraq, people suffering famine and drought, and families living in the world’s largest refugee camps.

Now the 38-year-old is bringing her work to Northland to share the stories and images she took for charities and not-for-profit organisations, including child sponsorship.

Manson’s A Celebration of Humanity speaking and photography tour will be held at Frontline Church, Kerikeri on February 29, Whangārei Central Baptist, Whangārei on March 1, and Dargaville Baptist Community Church on April 5.

Manson said she’s excited to bring the tour to Northland.

“I want to let people know when you give to organisations like these, they are making a difference.

“I hope people feel really inspired and encouraged by the tremendous progress made to push the needle back on poverty.

“People may feel poverty is a hopeless cause.

“I’ve been able to photograph for 50 organisations, and am hoping to bring to life some of that work and be the firsthand account of what I’ve seen along the way.”

One of Helen Manson’s remarkable images she took in Nepal.
One of Helen Manson’s remarkable images she took in Nepal.

Manson, a mum of three, has travelled to 35 countries documenting famine, refugee settlements, post-war environments, child sponsorship, trauma counselling and disaster zones.

These include places like Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, India, and Nepal.

Her career began in 2010 after a stint doing PR work for events like Fashion Week, Rhythm and Vines and beauty brands.

She and her husband Tim moved to Dubai in 2009, before moving to Uganda to volunteer a year later.

Though it was only meant to be for five months, two life-changing events happened that changed the course of her life and career.

One was eating an apple while waiting for a bus in Kampala. A young man approached and asked what it was, as he’d never seen an apple before.

“Ivan told me he’d been a child soldier. I’d never met anyone like that before and wanted to know everything about it.

“I also met my child sponsor. He was just a picture on the fridge then I met him and thought oh my goodness … I was ruined for anything else.”

Helen Manson’s humanitarian work has taken her around the globe.
Helen Manson’s humanitarian work has taken her around the globe.

The couple moved to Uganda permanently in 2014 and raised their three children there.

They returned to Aotearoa in 2020, and now live in Auckland and work for Tearfund New Zealand; Manson as head of communications and Tim as director of international programmes.

The exhibition, hosted by Tearfund, will include a PowerPoint presentation of Manson’s work, where she’ll share her favourite images and stories, and a 45-minute talk about how she got into humanitarian photography.

Tickets are $5 online or at the door, and include refreshments and a Q&A. All three Northland presentations start at 7pm.

Visit tearfund.org.nz for more information and tickets.

R16 recommendation: Some of the content shared on the evening will contain references to sensitive and emotionally challenging topics such as sexual violence, which some individuals may find distressing.

Jenny Ling is a news reporter and features writer for the Northern Advocate. She has a special interest in covering roading, lifestyle, business, and animal welfare issues.



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