We are super excited to finally publish our new story from Ethiopia called ”Serving The Whole Person”. The story has been on its way for quite some time as it was shot in early February but when we got the opportunity to work with Inquire Magazine in July we decided to postpone the launch date. The story is now available via App store and you can support us – and the dedicated team behind Inquire Magazine – directly by buying the latest issue which also features amazing work by Ed Kashi, Nacho Hernandez and many others. It’s only 3,99$ and if you buy you will support independent online journalism which is a great thing in these troubled times. One thing that is really cool about this particular story is that it is published in five different languages on our website. So wether you want to watch it in English, Spanish, French, German or without subs in Dr. Erik’s native Danish .. it’s all here.
So what’s the story? I decided to go to Ethiopia in February to visit the Danish surgeon Dr. Erik Erichsen who works at a very remote hospital in the small village of Aira, situated in the far western part of the country. I had stumbled into Dr. Erik Erichsen by co-incidence in Addis Ababa one early morning in November 2009 when I was in town to shoot a story about street children for a Danish/Ethiopian NGO. His story fascinated me and for two years I thought about going back to find out what his personal motivation and drive was.
In early February 2012 I packed a single 5D Mark II body, two lenses, a cheap plastic tripod and a small microphone and flew down to Africa. My budget was 1500USD all inclusive and paid out of my own pocket. No pressure, no client. Just the way I wanted.
In Addis I hooked up with a small group of Norwegian doctors who were also en route to Aira. Totally lucky for me and my budget. We hired a car together and spent two full days on the road until finally reaching Aira on a humid and late afternoon. I met Dr. Erik and his wonderful wife Sennait – a Swedish nurse with an Eritrean background – and they installed me in a small guesthouse inside the hospital compund. For six days I worked day and night trying to figure out what the hell the actual story was while shooting a crazy amount of cover images to use in my edit. I had decided beforehand to focus 90% of my visuals around video since I wanted the story to have a more dynamic feel. At the same time I wanted to shoot with the shallowest possible DOP (f1,4 and f1,2 mostly) and to go for a piece driven by slow pace.
There were many decisions for me to take along the way. It’s very difficult to shoot for multimedia when you are only one person and I would have loved to work with someone who could have coached me during the process. On the other hand it’s such a good exercise to do this kind of work yourself beause it really forces you to slow down and think about the elements and the actual plot of the story you are trying to tell. I changed focus on this story very late during my stay in Aira when it dawned on me that the Ethiopian Mekane Yesus Church that operates under the motto “Serving the Whole Person” actually tried to profit from their hospital instead of supporting it. From a Christian viewpoint it just didn’t make any sense to me, and that’s when I decided to leave the intimate portrait of Dr. Erik to focus on the more complex issue of church and missionary work in the Third World instead.
”Serving The Whole Person” is a more experimental body of work and it carries a lot of symbols. The story is my personal take on an issue that I feel deserve much more attention.
Please watch, share and draw your own conclusions.
Thanks for reading