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Bahadar Khan Zada School, Pakistan. Photo © Richard Hanson

Bahadar Khan Zada School, Pakistan - Richard Hanson, 2011

1 September 2014

In the summer of 2010, much of central and southern Pakistan suffered devastating flooding of the Indus River due to abnormally heavy monsoon rain in the northern part of the country. A Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal was launched, and raised more than £60 million. I was commissioned by Tearfund, a DEC member NGO, to report on the situation a year later as relief supplies and rebuilding projects were well underway.

I spent around ten days visiting various sites, travelling by Landcruiser and staying with the local Tearfund team. This school, Bahadar Khan Zada School in Sindh Province, had received materials and other help to re-establish education. I use lighting a lot in my UK work, and a bit overseas, but with a D3s and fast lenses, I can work in situations that would have been impossible 20 years ago, and that makes for much more natural and engaged pictures, as you can ‘disappear’ into the situation. I’ve done a lot of quiet waiting in classrooms, waiting for a moment of engagement such as this.

It was a wonderful assignment: we saw the beneficial effects of the relief work, which included putting in replacement water supplies, latrines and building houses, as well as the education support. It was also visually stimulating. Almost everyone we met in Pakistan was welcoming and open to being photographed. After welcoming us they carried on with what they were doing. There was an understanding.

Richard Hanson joined the staff of Tearfund, a large Christian NGO, as their photographic assistant in 1992. Over the next eight years he established himself as their staff photographer, covering stories in Sudan, Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone and many more. Some were dangerous, some harrowing, but he was telling untold stories that might change how people think. He worked for press agency Guzelian for two years, doing national news and corporate PR, and went freelance in 2002. He’s worked in over 45 countries.

After a trip to Ethiopia in May 2013, Richard was diagnosed with Acute Myleoid Leukaemia, in a very aggressive form. He was in remission by October and went back to work for six weeks before relapsing. In June 2014 after hugely impressive care from Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Richard reached the end of the possible treatments, and the leukaemia came back. “I’ve enjoyed working as a photographer in so many ways,” says Richard. “But most of all I’m proud of my family and how they’ve handled this.”

See more work by Richard Hanson

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