As part of its Talks and Debates’ cycle, in February 2017 Handicap International Foundation welcomed Yan Morvan, a world renown photo-reporter and photojournalist, whose path crossed with Handicap International more than once …
Yan Morvan and Handicap International, two stories unfolding in parallel
Created at the very beginning of the 1980s at the Thai-Cambodian border, Handicap International is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. On this occasion, it has been looking back at some of its defining moment, such as the Khao I Dang Olympics.
Khao I Dang was a Cambodian refugee camp located in the Prachinburi (now Sa Kaeo) Province of Thailand, 20 km north of the border with Cambodia. Opened in 1979 (and eventually closed in March 1993), Khao I Dang, or KID as it was often referred to by the aid agencies, hosted more than 160,000 Cambodian refugees. Most had fled as early as 1979 a threatened famine and the Vietnamese offensive against the Khmer Rouge. Often, they awaited there, for months, sometimes years, before being sent to third countries.
Khao I Dang was often described as one of the most serviced camp on the Thai-Cambodian border as educational and medical services were provided by a significant number of Thai and international relief organizations, among which Handicap International.
It is in this very refugee camp that the association started to develop prosthesis made from locally available equipment, such as bamboo, enabling immediate, effective and practical aid to the process, and competent local teams to carry on the work of the association once it had left.
It is also in Khao I Dang that Yan Morvan shot some of his very first pictures. As a young photographer, he indeed covered the Olympics of Khao I Dang, during which persons with disabilities, often caused by landmines, faced each other. Launched by Handicap International in cooperation with a Thai association, the Education and Development Center, the Games eventually ended with the return of refugees to their countries in 1993.
Going over thirty years of collaboration
After covering some of the very first editions of the Khao I Dang Olympic Games, Yan Morvan went on reporting on most of the conflicts of the 20th century: the Iran / Iraq war, Lebanon, Northern Ireland, the Philippines, the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Rwanda, Kosovo, etc. Yet, he also found the time to continue working with Handicap International and documented some of the activities and projects managed by Handicap International in Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Mozambique, among other places.
His talk at HI’s headquarters was the perfect occasion to go over some of his work, whether done or not in collaboration with Handicap International, and also provided the opportunity for reflecting on several issues. The evolution and future of his profession was discussed, for instance. Yan Morvan also gave insight on the evolution of the humanitarian context, having had the opportunity to work alongside humanitarian workers for so long. Eventually, he addressed the need to document war, past and present,and welcomed Handicap International’s decision to take stock and bring value to the existing photos, videos, awards and objects it collected over the years.
To watch Yan Morvan’s speech and the ensuing debate, please, click here.