Boys Carrying Stone, Nepal

These two enslaved brothers hold hands, steadying themselves as they carry sheets of slate, weighing more than their body weight, hoisted to their heads while precariously making their journey down the Himalayan mountains to trucks below. It takes several people to lift each stone and place it into the makeshift harnesses made out of ropes and sticks. The weight of the slate stone is born almost entirely by their heads and slender necks. The sticks, when grasped, prevent them from stumbling and careening headlong or sideways down the sheer inclines of the mountain. Many of the children come from families trapped in debt bondage slavery. The boy’s connection and support of one another speak not just of a necessity to survive their circumstance but also of their relationship, love, and compassion.

More than 43 million people are enslaved in the world today. Of them, more than 71% are women and girls. Having documented on the front lines of slavery for more than ten years, I have seen dark, harrowing situations. Yet, I genuinely believe that if there is a connection between people, no matter from where we hail, atrocities like this could not occur. It is the ability to separate ourselves from others that allows for such failures.

In doing this work, I have witnessed some of the greatest atrocities of humankind but more so the tremendous resilience of the human heart.