Three lovely children in the ancient village of Qana, southern Lebanon, where Jesus is believed to have turned water in to wine. I was there with Martin Chulov, the Guardian’s Middle East correspondent, on the fifth anniversary of the 2006 war with Israel. These children were playing in the rubble of a house that was destroyed in 2006 by the Israelis. According to the Lebanese Red Cross, 32 children who were sheltering in the basement were killed when the Israeli shell landed on the building. I hope these children grow up without experiencing such horrors themselves.
ZoomInfo
Camera
Canon EOS 1000D
ISO
100
Aperture
f/2
Exposure
1/1000th
Focal Length
78mm

Three lovely children in the ancient village of Qana, southern Lebanon, where Jesus is believed to have turned water in to wine. I was there with Martin Chulov, the Guardian’s Middle East correspondent, on the fifth anniversary of the 2006 war with Israel. These children were playing in the rubble of a house that was destroyed in 2006 by the Israelis. According to the Lebanese Red Cross, 32 children who were sheltering in the basement were killed when the Israeli shell landed on the building. I hope these children grow up without experiencing such horrors themselves.

After a five year prosecution, the Special Court for Sierra Leone reaches a verdict this week in the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who is accused of committing war crimes in neighbouring Sierra Leone. His ex-wife, Jewel Howard Taylor, talks to Tamasin Ford and myself defends her former husband - but says the people of Liberia and Sierra Leone need to move on from their violent pasts
ZoomInfo
Camera
Canon EOS 1000D
ISO
200
Aperture
f/2
Exposure
1/60th
Focal Length
78mm

After a five year prosecution, the Special Court for Sierra Leone reaches a verdict this week in the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who is accused of committing war crimes in neighbouring Sierra Leone. His ex-wife, Jewel Howard Taylor, talks to Tamasin Ford and myself defends her former husband - but says the people of Liberia and Sierra Leone need to move on from their violent pasts

Source: Guardian

6Liberia, Sierra Leone, post-conflict resolution, justice,

A former captain in the Syrian Army, now in hiding in Lebanon, co-ordinating a group of defecting soldiers trying to overthrow the Assad regime, asked us if we wanted to see the landmines that the Syrians have planted along the border. We trotted round to the back of his house, expecting him to point to the horizon beyond and say, ‘There they are’. Instead he hopped over the wall at the back of his house, pulled over a vegetable sack and opened it up to reveal an anti-tank mine inside.
He laid it on the ground so we could get a good look, rubbing away the still-wet mud on it to reveal its Russian-made insignia. 
Our colleague, Hala, five months pregnant, stepped back and even Martin Chulov, the Guardian’s unflappable Middle East correspondent, asked gingerly, ‘Is it safe?’, as the captain clunked it on the concrete terrace. 
'Oh yes', he laughed. 'You would have to be very heavy to set it off'. Designed to explode when a tank rolls over it, it was perfectly ok, he said.
We left to file our report on what he had told us that day, about the increasing confidence of the Free Syrian Army, about its attacks, about incursions by the Syrian army in to Lebanese territory. 
Back in Beirut, I showed the picture of the anti-tank mine to a friend who works for a landmine NGO. ‘That’s so not safe’, she said, going on to tell me about several accidents with anti-tank mines that went off with no tank in sight……
ZoomInfo
Camera
Canon EOS 1000D
ISO
400
Aperture
f/5
Exposure
1/60th
Focal Length
64mm

A former captain in the Syrian Army, now in hiding in Lebanon, co-ordinating a group of defecting soldiers trying to overthrow the Assad regime, asked us if we wanted to see the landmines that the Syrians have planted along the border. We trotted round to the back of his house, expecting him to point to the horizon beyond and say, ‘There they are’. Instead he hopped over the wall at the back of his house, pulled over a vegetable sack and opened it up to reveal an anti-tank mine inside.

He laid it on the ground so we could get a good look, rubbing away the still-wet mud on it to reveal its Russian-made insignia. 

Our colleague, Hala, five months pregnant, stepped back and even Martin Chulov, the Guardian’s unflappable Middle East correspondent, asked gingerly, ‘Is it safe?’, as the captain clunked it on the concrete terrace. 

'Oh yes', he laughed. 'You would have to be very heavy to set it off'. Designed to explode when a tank rolls over it, it was perfectly ok, he said.

We left to file our report on what he had told us that day, about the increasing confidence of the Free Syrian Army, about its attacks, about incursions by the Syrian army in to Lebanese territory. 

Back in Beirut, I showed the picture of the anti-tank mine to a friend who works for a landmine NGO. ‘That’s so not safe’, she said, going on to tell me about several accidents with anti-tank mines that went off with no tank in sight……

Source: Guardian

6Lebanon, Syria, landmines,

Turning the camera on myself
Film-maker Rachel Stevenson explains how making her Guardian video about donating her kidney to her husband affected her journalism

Source: Guardian

6kidney, kidney transplant, organ donation, journalism, filmmaking,

Making waves: how radio can transform a community The Donga Mantung region of Cameroon was cut off from the outside world until the community started up its own radio station. From preventing the spread of HIV to shout-outs for lost goats, the radio has become a vital source of information and education. Rachel Stevenson went to visit what is one of a growing number of community radios making waves in the developing world

Source: Guardian

6Cameroon, International development, Community radio, Africa, Media,

Ivory Coast rebels have killed hundreds, say observers
Reports of mass murders and rapes in villages. Pro-government forces also accused of atrocities. After spending a week travelling the border region, Rachel Stevenson and Tamasin Ford report on the horror stories emerging from Ivory Coast
Photo by Rachel Stevenson for the Guardian
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Camera
Canon EOS 1000D
ISO
200
Aperture
f/3.5
Exposure
1/200th
Focal Length
78mm

Ivory Coast rebels have killed hundreds, say observers

Reports of mass murders and rapes in villages. Pro-government forces also accused of atrocities. After spending a week travelling the border region, Rachel Stevenson and Tamasin Ford report on the horror stories emerging from Ivory Coast

Photo by Rachel Stevenson for the Guardian

Source: Guardian

6ivory coast, liberia, west africa, refugees, rebels, conflict,

Mining the past: Follow the annual Durham Miners’ Gala, where residents of former colliery villages, accompanied by brass bands, still turn out in force to remember their industrial heritage

In sickness and in health: Donating a kidney to my husband

When her husband James needed a kidney transplant, journalist and filmmaker Rachel Stevenson picked up a camera at home and filmed their journey to the operating table together

Source: Guardian

6kidney, kidney transplant, organ donation,

Land of no return

All across the country, communities are organising themselves to stop their friends and neighbours from being deported. From lobbying the Home Office to foiling dawn raids, the resistance will stop at nothing to keep failed asylum seekers safe in Britain. Rachel Stevenson and Harriet Grant investigate

Photo by Jamie Simpson, Newsquest Media

Source: Guardian

6resistance,, asylum, asylum seekers, asylum policy, glasgow, community,

Meet Daila, Abeer and Soukaina, three of the remarkable women helping rid southern Lebanon of one of the most deadly and indiscriminate curses of modern warfare. They painstakingly comb the olive groves and thyme fields looking for small metal cylinders - unexploded ordnance from cluster bombs - that are still killing and maiming people today. The Israelis dropped millions of them in southern Lebanon in 2006, in the final hours running up to a ceasefire with Hezbollah. 
The women were funny, clever, refused to be called ‘brave’. They just had a job to do. 
The Lebanese army is co-ordinating the de-mining teams, and so I had two Lebanese soldiers filming me the whole time I was filming the team. A strange experience - I expect people to be natural with me when I switch a camera on them, but oh boy, I hate a camera being trained on me….. Fiddling around with radio mics and exposure and getting the tripod set up - I felt the lens of the army guy’s camera burning a hole through my soul to reveal my inner fraud, the fake who can’t really film, set exposure correctly or even get the tripod level…
But aside from my own embarrassment, it was perhaps a sign of how tense the situation is by the border. I might have been a spy, you see, from the other side. Talk of another war bubbles away here….. 
ZoomInfo
Camera
Canon EOS 1000D
ISO
200
Aperture
f/5
Exposure
1/320th
Focal Length
78mm

Meet Daila, Abeer and Soukaina, three of the remarkable women helping rid southern Lebanon of one of the most deadly and indiscriminate curses of modern warfare. They painstakingly comb the olive groves and thyme fields looking for small metal cylinders - unexploded ordnance from cluster bombs - that are still killing and maiming people today. The Israelis dropped millions of them in southern Lebanon in 2006, in the final hours running up to a ceasefire with Hezbollah. 

The women were funny, clever, refused to be called ‘brave’. They just had a job to do. 

The Lebanese army is co-ordinating the de-mining teams, and so I had two Lebanese soldiers filming me the whole time I was filming the team. A strange experience - I expect people to be natural with me when I switch a camera on them, but oh boy, I hate a camera being trained on me….. Fiddling around with radio mics and exposure and getting the tripod set up - I felt the lens of the army guy’s camera burning a hole through my soul to reveal my inner fraud, the fake who can’t really film, set exposure correctly or even get the tripod level…

But aside from my own embarrassment, it was perhaps a sign of how tense the situation is by the border. I might have been a spy, you see, from the other side. Talk of another war bubbles away here….. 

Source: Guardian

6Lebanon, Middle East, cluster bombs, women, conflict,

These are the vines of Chateau Musar, a legendary force in Lebanon’s 5,000 years of wine-making. On a rare husband-and-wife assignment, James and I worked together on a film and article for the Observer visiting and meeting some of Lebanon’s extraordinary wine-makers. Wine seems to sum up many things about Lebanon - its tolerance, its diversity, its contradictions, its ancient roots and traditions, its survival instinct, its love of life. We visited some beautiful wineries, tasted some great wine, and met some very interesting people with such a passion for what they do, it made me wonder why I’ve spent so much of my life sat in an office behind a computer….
ZoomInfo
Camera
Canon EOS 1000D
ISO
100
Aperture
f/2
Exposure
1/3200th
Focal Length
78mm

These are the vines of Chateau Musar, a legendary force in Lebanon’s 5,000 years of wine-making. On a rare husband-and-wife assignment, James and I worked together on a film and article for the Observer visiting and meeting some of Lebanon’s extraordinary wine-makers. Wine seems to sum up many things about Lebanon - its tolerance, its diversity, its contradictions, its ancient roots and traditions, its survival instinct, its love of life. We visited some beautiful wineries, tasted some great wine, and met some very interesting people with such a passion for what they do, it made me wonder why I’ve spent so much of my life sat in an office behind a computer….

Source: Guardian

6Lebanon, wine, middle east,

This photo was taken by my brilliant colleague and friend Tamasin Ford in the small village of Grafton, just outside Freetown, Sierra Leone. It was a village built to house amputees and people wounded during Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war. On every porch sat a horror story - people who had either had their arms hacked off by rebels or those who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time when an attack came. The images of amputees has become synonymous with Africa’s most violent times, and the stories of those who faced the rebels’ axe has been well told. And of course there were countless other victims whose wounds are not so visible. But I found meeting the people myself still a very shocking experience. To imagine myself in their shoes as they saw what was happening in front them - well, I remain haunted by it. I felt overwhelmed by their stories and their ability to keep going with life. This photo is of me photographing the young kids who live in the village, children who were born in a time of peace but for whom amputeeism must seem completely normal.  

These were two young men Tamasin and I found sitting by the river crossing between Liberia and Ivory Coast. They were sat under the trees, right by the water’s edge, with a group of other young men, an uneasy air of boredom and tension hung around them. It was the closest I had ever come to a conflict zone. 
Our driver and fixer, Matthew and Sherry, sat amongst them and talked, while we stared across at the other side of the river bank - Ivory Coast, in the midst of a violent post-election uprising. We could see men in army fatigues emerging out of the bushes on the other side of the river, also looking pretty bored. Tamasin and I set about trying to communicate with them, writing a note in our best schoolgirl French, and with the help of some of the young guys around us, we managed to scribble something that began: ‘Nous somme deux journalistes pour la BBC….’ The canoe-operator agreed to take it over and pass it to the soldiers. 
A while later, the canoeist came back - our note returned with another scribble on the reverse side. Our request for an interview had been turned down. 
Meanwhile, Matthew and Sherry told us the shifty-looking guys by the river bed were mercenaries who had been crossing the border to fight, and that two were willing to talk. We headed in to the bush and I began setting up the camera, hands clammy from the oppressive heat and nerves about what might happen. These guys were wired, with a manic look in their eyes.
They wouldn’t let us film or photograph their faces, so this is the result. One is wearing my scarf wrapped around his head. They told us horrific things - about committing terrible, violent acts against men, women and children in Ivory Coast. They had been fighters in Liberia’s own civil war and had been recruited by a former general they knew from that conflict.
Their tale may have been hard to believe by some - and it certainly fits in to a stereotype of young, bloodthirsty African men who have no qualms about wielding a machete for a few dollars. But their story later chimed with evidence gathered by Human Rights Watch, which documented horrific acts by the Forces Nouvelles in villages these young guys told us they had attacked.  
And the sad fact is that there are indeed plenty of young men like them in Liberia, who first fought as young boys in Liberia’s devastating conflict and who know no other life. There may have been eight years of peace in Liberia, but there are still many young men for whom there is no other option than seek a living through arms. Hence why so many African mercenaries were found in Libya. 
Matthew and Sherry, who both lived through Liberia’s conflict, certainly believed their tales. They had seen guys exactly like them with their own eyes rampaging through villages in Liberia. Later that day, long after we had finished the interview, we were driving up to the health clinic where we were staying the night. It was getting dark, and as we drove up to the clinic, two motorbikes appeared beside our jeep. It was these two mercenaries. I suddenly felt very scared - and Tamasin and I could see that Matthew and Sherry were both pretty tense too. It was one of those moments where I thought something could go horribly wrong. I would have handed over every piece of kit and every dollar I had to them without a fight, but I couldn’t bear the thought that someone else might get hurt trying to protect me, or that they might kill us all anyway. 
In the end, they said they just wanted to check we were ok and had somewhere to stay the night. I locked the door to the room Tamasin and I were sleeping in and had a fitful night’s sleep, dreaming of a machete coming through the door. 
Life is still too cheap in Africa. 
ZoomInfo
Camera
Canon EOS 1000D
ISO
100
Aperture
f/2
Exposure
1/125th
Focal Length
78mm

These were two young men Tamasin and I found sitting by the river crossing between Liberia and Ivory Coast. They were sat under the trees, right by the water’s edge, with a group of other young men, an uneasy air of boredom and tension hung around them. It was the closest I had ever come to a conflict zone. 

Our driver and fixer, Matthew and Sherry, sat amongst them and talked, while we stared across at the other side of the river bank - Ivory Coast, in the midst of a violent post-election uprising. We could see men in army fatigues emerging out of the bushes on the other side of the river, also looking pretty bored. Tamasin and I set about trying to communicate with them, writing a note in our best schoolgirl French, and with the help of some of the young guys around us, we managed to scribble something that began: ‘Nous somme deux journalistes pour la BBC….’ The canoe-operator agreed to take it over and pass it to the soldiers. 

A while later, the canoeist came back - our note returned with another scribble on the reverse side. Our request for an interview had been turned down. 

Meanwhile, Matthew and Sherry told us the shifty-looking guys by the river bed were mercenaries who had been crossing the border to fight, and that two were willing to talk. We headed in to the bush and I began setting up the camera, hands clammy from the oppressive heat and nerves about what might happen. These guys were wired, with a manic look in their eyes.

They wouldn’t let us film or photograph their faces, so this is the result. One is wearing my scarf wrapped around his head. They told us horrific things - about committing terrible, violent acts against men, women and children in Ivory Coast. They had been fighters in Liberia’s own civil war and had been recruited by a former general they knew from that conflict.

Their tale may have been hard to believe by some - and it certainly fits in to a stereotype of young, bloodthirsty African men who have no qualms about wielding a machete for a few dollars. But their story later chimed with evidence gathered by Human Rights Watch, which documented horrific acts by the Forces Nouvelles in villages these young guys told us they had attacked.  

And the sad fact is that there are indeed plenty of young men like them in Liberia, who first fought as young boys in Liberia’s devastating conflict and who know no other life. There may have been eight years of peace in Liberia, but there are still many young men for whom there is no other option than seek a living through arms. Hence why so many African mercenaries were found in Libya. 

Matthew and Sherry, who both lived through Liberia’s conflict, certainly believed their tales. They had seen guys exactly like them with their own eyes rampaging through villages in Liberia. Later that day, long after we had finished the interview, we were driving up to the health clinic where we were staying the night. It was getting dark, and as we drove up to the clinic, two motorbikes appeared beside our jeep. It was these two mercenaries. I suddenly felt very scared - and Tamasin and I could see that Matthew and Sherry were both pretty tense too. It was one of those moments where I thought something could go horribly wrong. I would have handed over every piece of kit and every dollar I had to them without a fight, but I couldn’t bear the thought that someone else might get hurt trying to protect me, or that they might kill us all anyway. 

In the end, they said they just wanted to check we were ok and had somewhere to stay the night. I locked the door to the room Tamasin and I were sleeping in and had a fitful night’s sleep, dreaming of a machete coming through the door. 

Life is still too cheap in Africa. 

Source: Guardian

6ivory coast, liberia, rebels, mercenaries, refugees, conflict,

Egypt protests: The young men of Sharm el-Sheikh
Young men who left Cairo in search of work in Red Sea resort talk to Rachel Stevenson about their frustrations with life under Hosni Mubarak
ZoomInfo
Camera
Canon EOS 1000D
ISO
400
Aperture
f/4
Exposure
1/60th
Focal Length
28mm

Egypt protests: The young men of Sharm el-Sheikh

Young men who left Cairo in search of work in Red Sea resort talk to Rachel Stevenson about their frustrations with life under Hosni Mubarak

Source: Guardian

6egypt, protest, uprising, revolution, arab spring, young people,

Waiting for the rebels…. 6am, in the no-mans-land between Liberia and Ivory Coast. I took this photo of my fabulous colleague and friend, Tamasin Ford, as we waited on the bridge across the river that marks the boundary between Ivory Coast and Liberia for the local Forces Nouvelles to arrive. As commander ‘Angelou’, his second-in-command Alpha and their men emerged in the distance, I let the camera roll as they walked towards us. Some were wearing flip flops, some of their guns were held together with sellotape, but there was an undeniable swagger in their step. Fighting has now ended in Ivory Coast, but will these men really want to put down their arms and all the power that goes with it?…
ZoomInfo
Camera
Canon EOS 1000D
ISO
200
Aperture
f/4
Exposure
1/200th
Focal Length
78mm

Waiting for the rebels…. 6am, in the no-mans-land between Liberia and Ivory Coast. I took this photo of my fabulous colleague and friend, Tamasin Ford, as we waited on the bridge across the river that marks the boundary between Ivory Coast and Liberia for the local Forces Nouvelles to arrive. As commander ‘Angelou’, his second-in-command Alpha and their men emerged in the distance, I let the camera roll as they walked towards us. Some were wearing flip flops, some of their guns were held together with sellotape, but there was an undeniable swagger in their step. Fighting has now ended in Ivory Coast, but will these men really want to put down their arms and all the power that goes with it?…

6ivory coast, liberia, rebels, conflict, arms, guns,

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