Photo by Barry Rodriguez

Photo by Barry Rodriguez

Gritty Hope

Stunning images and the stories behind them
Photo by Barry Rodriguez

It was my first day in the northern village of Lietnhom. The sun was blazing hot, so my friend Kazito and I ducked into his buddy’s convenience store for some shade. This girl and her brother were playing inside. I saw how perfect the lighting conditions were, so I asked if I could take her picture. I snapped this shot and showed her the image on her LCD screen. Her face lit up when she saw herself.

In my opinion, the image speaks volumes about the life of this little girl: the dirt on her dress from playing with her brother, the flecks of sorghum in her hair from pounding out her family’s grain, the beaded necklace, the steady, piercing gaze…it captures for me the essence of childhood in the midst of poverty. Filth and beauty. Gritty perseverance and delicate femininity. Pain and hope.

Like many other children in South Sudan, she faces an uncertain future, but I believe the kingdom of God is on the move in her community. My hope outweighs that uncertainty.

-Barry Rodriguez