Her suspicion was healthy and warranted — a group of loud foreigners in running shoes trekking by her simple farm in rural Ethiopia, uninvited. I never knew her name and passed by in a fleeting minute, a curious outsider with a naive smile and a big camera. Little did I know then that this shot would become one of my all time favourite photographs, that it would capture me in a profound, unexpected way. There is something intangible in the photo that goes beyond the technical aspects of light, exposure and composition. I realize now that it’s in her eyes.
Photography is like that for me — when the shutter stops and the lens is capped it can become surprisingly alive, highly emotive, and at times deeply personal. I will never forget her. Something in that face tells an unspoken story so deep and difficult and beautiful. I see courage, strength and determination in those young eyes, eyes that have seen hardships beyond their years, hardships I will never know and wish not to dwell on too long from my comfortable, privileged life. In letting me take this snapshot she gave me a priceless gift: that of a new perspective. I feel grateful to her and forever indebted.
Run For Water has a dream that a piece of her future story and many like her would include clean drinking water, health and education. And I can testify that change is happening in tangible ways. I’ve seen up close that we can make a real difference for people like this young woman by giving to a cause greater than ourselves. Let those eyes compel you like they do me.
— Brad Dueck