Tag Archives: humanitarian


A small selection of published work in the international media. To contact Luc for editorial, reportage, travel, or humanitarian projects in the mediums of photography, writing, or videography, click here. Available to work in Cambodia, throughout southeast Asia, and internationally.

INYT - crackdowns front  copy

For The International New York Times – Government Crackdown on Striking Garment Workers.

INYT - Sonando Cover copy

For The International New York Times – Mom Sonando as a Voice of Opposition in Cambodia.

NYT - Cambodia Rice copy

For The International New York Times – Cambodia’s Expanding Rice Market. For a full slideshow, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/30/business/international/cambodia-looks-to-put-its-rice-on-the-worlds-plate.html

NYT Online - Koh Pich copy

For The International New York Times – Chinese Development of Cambodia. For the full slideshow, visit: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/05/07/realestate/commercial/giant-development-in-cambodia-hinges-on-chinese-buyers.html

NYT Online - Phnom Penh Bus copy

For the International New York Times – Phnom Penh’s First Public Bus. For a full slideshow, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/20/world/asia/getting-stares-on-the-streets-of-cambodia-buses-for-the-masses.html

Al Jazeera - Marching Monks copy

Al Jazeera English – Monks March for the Environment. (Writing)

Al Jazeera - Chinese Flee Vietnam copy

Al Jazeera English – Vietnam’s Chinese Flee Unrest to China. (Writing and Photography)

VQR - (Cover) Tonle Sap copy

For The Virginia Quarterly Review – The Future of Cambodia’s Waterways.

NYT Lens Blog - Garment Crackdown copy

The New York Time Lens Blog – Government Crackdown on Striking Garment Workers.

TIME - Garment Crackdown copy

TIME Lightbox – Government Crackdown on Striking Garment Workers.

Wall Street Journal - Gold Mining copy

The Wall Street Journal – Small Scale Gold Mining in the Philippines.

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The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting – The Future of Cambodia’s Waterways

CBS News - Gold Mining copy

CBS News – Small Scale Gold Mining in the Philippines.

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The Denver Post – Small Scale Gold Mining in the Philippines.




















































































































































































































































































The Smithsonian - Alberta's Oil Sands

The Smithsonian – Alberta’s Oil Sands












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Gapminder: A Fact-Based World View Everyone Can Understand

A man stands inside his home, where he squats with his twin children. After his wife passed away, he was forced to move into a run down and half-ruined apartment with no running water.

A man stands inside his home, where he squats with his twin children. After his wife passed away, he was forced to move into a run-down and half-ruined apartment with no running water in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Taking a break from political coverage, I’ve spent the last two weeks working on a series of nine assignments for Gapminder – a non-profit organization based in Sweden. Gapminder is a unique organization in the sense that their approach to development is not focused on field operations, but rather on gathering detailed information on global inequalities in wealth  – and presenting it in visually interesting and educational ways to encourage a better understanding of poverty around the world.

When Gapminder first reached out to me about working together, I have to say I initially found their project specifications unusual. Unlike a typical development-oriented job, the focus of these assignments is not on people, but on the objects they own. In fact, other than a single family portrait of each of the nine families, there are no human elements in the images whatsoever (In the material I submitted that is. These photos are just a behind the scenes look at the locations visited, not the finished product). For someone like me, whose work is almost exclusively focused on people, the idea was surprising.

A translator works with a vegetable farmer on the outskirts of Phnom Penh to gather information about his family's income.

A translator works with a vegetable farmer on the outskirts of Phnom Penh to gather information about his family’s income.

A woman near her home in Borei Keila, a neighbourhood heavily affected by land grabbing and the extensive development underway in Cambodia.

A woman near her home in Borei Keila, a neighbourhood heavily affected by land grabbing and the extensive development underway in Cambodia.


I was given a list of nine different types of households to find – some rural, some urban, some suburban – and a detailed shot list of items to be documented. But apart from these loose guidelines, Gapminder gave me total freedom in terms of people and locations – a rare and welcome opportunity. As long as the households in question met a few basic criteria, I was free to focus on anyone I wanted, anywhere in the country.

If I am being honest I should say that after finishing the first of these projects in Phnom Penh, I didn’t really see the utility of these images. Photos of doors and brooms and plates of food aren’t things that I normally would think of as telling stories about people. But after doing several more (I’ve completed six of the nine), the beauty and simplicity of the idea has become obvious. By comparing these everyday items across a variety of socio-economic contexts, a much larger portrait of poverty emerges. Whereas a single photo of someone’s kitchen may not tell a strong story, viewing six side-by-side (or, even more impressively, the hundreds that Gapminder is collecting from countries around the world) is decidedly more powerful. From these comparisons, inanimate objects paint a vivid portrait of life and hardship in a country where nearly a quarter of the population lives below the global poverty line.

My experience with the Gapminder project has been more informative than I could ever have imagined. Even though I have worked extensively in developing regions and much of my work focuses on impoverished areas, these last few weeks have given me a more personal and intimate understanding of both Cambodia, and the effects poverty has on household life. I’m glad to be a part of Gapminder’s mission to “fight ignorance with a fact-based world view everyone can understand,” and I’m looking forward to the assignments to come.

A woman helps her husband with his mosquito net in their small shack in Phnom Penh. Though he normally works as a construction worker, recent illnesses have rendered him unemployed and the family does not have enough money to meet their daily needs.

A woman helps her husband with his mosquito net in their small shack in Phnom Penh. Though he normally works as a construction worker, recent illnesses have rendered him unemployed and the family does not have enough money to meet their daily needs.

A young boy eats lunch outside their home in Phnom Penh.

A young boy eats lunch outside his home in Phnom Penh.


Chicks being raised in an abandoned apartment in Phnom Penh. The owners do not have access to any agricultural land, so they must raise their animals indoors - creating potential sanitation and health issues for the family.

Chicks being raised in an abandoned apartment in Phnom Penh. The owners do not have access to any agricultural land, so they must raise their animals indoors – creating potential sanitation and health issues for the family.

*Note: These are not the photos for the official Gapminder project.

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No Build Zone: Life in Tacloban After Typhoon Haiyan

When typhoon Haiyan, referred to locally as Yolanda, smashed into the central Philippines on November 8th, 2014, it was the most severe storm ever recorded to make landfall. In the end Yalonda claimed more than six thousand lives, devastated infrastructure, rendered tens of thousands homeless, and its aftermath instigated widespread looting and chaos. Tacloban, one of the cities hardest hit, was largely underprepared for the scale of the destruction, and nearly six months later its residents are still struggling to rebuild their lives.

Cambodian Crackdown

A violent police and military crackdown on Cambodians protesting on behalf of striking garment factory workers resulted in multiple deaths and 23 arrests.

Leyte Gold: Small Scale Mining in the southern Philippines

From the earth to the market, gold is one of the most prized materials in existence. In Pinut-An, a small community on the island of Leyte, Philippines, gold is everything. Largely destroyed by a landslide in 2006, Pinut-An relies heavily on gold to keep it alive. Small-scale mining operations are everywhere, with tunnels carved both into the mountains and the sea floor. Workers labour with minimal safety precautions in conditions so dangerous that any accident would likely be fatal. This story traces Leyte's gold from the ocean to the markets.

Dirty Money: Tree Planting in Western Canada

Tree planters sleep on the ground, work in the rain and snow, battle swarms of insects, and bend over thousands of times a day - all in the pursuit of money. While tree planting is part adventure and part right of passage, the ultimate goal is to earn as much as possible before the season ends. Known nationally as one of the hardest jobs a young person can do, this story follows a camp of 42 tree planters over a difficult four month season in northern Alberta.

Born To Kill: Underground Cock Fighting in the Philippines

From the cradle to the grave, these animals are raised only to fight, and most likely die. Large amounts of money can be won on these fights, so a champion bird will most probably fight again and again until he is no longer able to win. Since the blades used are 10cm long and razor sharp, not winning is probably synonymous with death – though there is a potential for the lucky to receive only a blinding or severe maiming. This story examines the culture of underground cock fights, far from the rules and regulations of licensed fights

March of the Monks

In recent decades, Cambodia’s Buddhist monks have been largely absent from the political sphere. Their role had been mostly relegated to that of simple preachers who were most commonly seen collecting alms or studying in their pagodas. But now, harnessing the power of social media, groups of monks are starting to rise up against social injustices in their country. This story follows a group of over 40 monks as the walk 25km through the jungle to protest environmental destruction in the remote Areng Valley.

Leo's House: Escaping the Poverty Cycle

Leo Castellero is a 49-year-old carpenter from Mindanao Island in the southern Philippines. When his wife left him for another man, he moved to Manila with his five children looking to start a new life. This story documents his attempt to break out of the poverty cycle.

Evicted: Borei Keila

Despite legally owning their homes, the residents of Borei Keila became victims of Cambodia's lang grabbing crisis when they were forcefully evicted from their homes on January 3rd, 2012. This story is a microcosm of a larger issue as an alarming quantity of Cambodian public land is sold to private developers, regardless of the impact on the people living there.

Tattoos of San Andres

While the Philippines is a tattooed nation in general, in Manila's working class neighbourhood of San Andres, tattoos are everywhere. Some are meant for the sake of art and decoration, while others have gang or prison connotations. The tattoos of San Andres are representative of the people who live there - sometimes dangerous, often loving, and nearly always vibrant.

Child Labour in Bangladesh

It is estimated that there are approximately 5 million children between the ages of 5 and 15 working in Bangladesh. Since these children start working at such a young age, they are unable to complete any formal education, and therefore get trapped in a life of low-skilled labour from which most will never escape. The nature of their work is often dangerous, working in small factories or cottage industry shops with very little in the way of safety precautions. The pay for young children is usually less than 1 dollar a day, but this money is essential to the survival of their families; quitting is not an option. This story was shot in the capital city of Dhaka.

Dhaka Life

The largest city in the country, Dhaka is Bangladesh's chaotic capital. The economic heart of the country, the city is home to an estimated 12 million people, also making it one of the world's most densely populated cities. Every year the city grows as Bangladesh's rural population moves to the capital in search of higher wages, yet a estimated 34% of the population lives below the poverty line. This is a look at the life of the lower classes in what the Economist Intelligence Unit named the world's most unliveable city for 2012.

Hossain's Birds

A former freedom fighter in Bangladesh’s 1971 war against Pakistan, Hossain organized an association of local shopkeepers to buy and breed Shiragji pigeons. Prized for being easily domesticated, and their ability to recognize voice commands, Shiragji pigeons are expensive at around 10 000 Taka ($125 US). By pooling their money the association was able to buy a pair, which they have now expanded to over 30 birds.

The Guryong Shanty Town

In the shadow of Seoul's wealthiest neighbourhood is the Guryong shanty town, a place reminiscent of Seoul's impoverished past.



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Why We Should Care About Kony

By now this video has gone ultra-viral and I’m sure a lot of you have seen it already (if not, watch it, share it and spread it). Joseph Kony, and what he has done to Ugandans over the last 20 years beyond despicable. He abducts children, murders families and incapacitates entire populations through fear tactics. This is known. If you agree with Invisible Children’s methods, Donate, take action, and inform others of this cause. Regardless of your stance on this particular situation, the Kony 2012 campaign has broader implications, ones that will directly affect our future and the future of humanity.

If the people at Invisible Children Inc. are able to successfully engineer the arrest of an African warlord by using Facebook and Twitter, they will have quite literally changed the world. If governments can be compelled into action by a handful of people with passion, a video camera and an internet connection, it will mark the beginning of the inversion of power structures. Any issue from climate change to homelessness to education to war could be within the power of any individual in the world to change.

Whether or not you agree with Invisible Children’s controversial mandate (i.e. the sanction and sponsorship of military force) is not why I am interested in this issue. There are supporters for and against the organizations methods, and both sides have valid arguments. What everyone should be able to agree on is that their awareness campaign has been a resounding success. They have shown the power of the Web 2.0, and how it can make voices heard around the world like never before.

This is exciting. This is something that I want to be a part of.

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Same World Same Chance

A piece of promotional material I made for Same World Same Chance. Shot in Kibombomene

A while ago I wrote and article for Groove magazine to try and raise awareness for Same World Same Chance, a community development program in Kibombomene, Zambia. I spent 6 weeks at the project site last year and was truly inspired by  the work they are doing. I wanted to repost this here because SWSC is an amazing organization and deserves all the support it can get. Get involved – volunteer, fundraise, donate.


In 2006, two university graduates from Canada landed in Africa with vague notions of making a difference in the world. Kim Hurley and Marissa Izma had no clear idea of how they would do this, but after several months they found themselves in the small community of Kibombomene, Zambia.

“We just wanted to be rural because the media portrayed such a negative image of Africa and we just needed to see it for ourselves,” says Izma. From this, Same World Same Chance was born – an independent, education based, community development organization.

Four years later, Izma still lives in Zambia while Mrs. Hurley has returned to Canada to raise funds. On the project site, a two-room schoolhouse, a library, staff housing, and an organic farm now stand where before there was only a diamond shaped plot of wild brush land.

In a time when people are becoming increasingly mistrustful of how NGOs spend their funding, Same World Same Chance is a prime example of how the compassion and drive of individuals is still the most effective force for social change.

“I have personally seen some NGOs running in Zambia that are misusing funds, [and] it makes me angry because SWSC strives on making our priority that every cent gets spent in the best way possible,” Izma states, though she makes it clear that she has also seen a lot of money being used effectively.

According to Izma, “The biggest challenge has been integrating into a rural community and into a culture that is so different from my own. It has been important though, because we knew that we had to immerse ourselves within the community to discover who the notable members were. We needed to know who could trust us, and who we could trust so that we could work together. Without the community of Kibombomene, the project is nothing.”

Education in Zambia, especially in rural areas, is sub-standard to say the least. While there was an existing primary school in the village before the arrival of SWSC, the reliability of teachers was a daily question. If and when they did show up, their effectiveness (and often their sobriety) was dubious. Local children would attend this school for years under the impression that they were receiving an education that would help them further their lives. But when it came time to write the national exams, many found that they were unable to read the questions.

Izma and Hurley hope that the free secondary education program offered by SWSC can be part of a solution. “We want people to graduate from here and move into the world and create more positive change.”

But SWSC also believes in helping Kibombomene help itself. Their goal is not simply to help students graduate so they can get a job in the nearest city, but rather give local residents the skills and education they need to so the village can thrive independently. Besides paying the salaries of two local teachers and funding an organic farming project, SWSC has established a local manufacturing industry which now makes tailored bags and blankets that are sold internationally. All proceeds from this initiative are put back into the project and, by extension, the community.

A health committee has been created to give free medical services to the village residents. Led by Candace Ngungu (a Canadian nurse who came to the project as a volunteer and ended up marrying a local man), the fledgling clinic will be invaluable for Kibombomene’s people, who have no real access to a hospital. In a country where AIDS and malaria are ongoing threats, having free professional medical assistance could mean the difference between life and death.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of SWSC is how ambitious it is in the scope of its long-term vision. When it reaches maturity, the project site will be home to six classrooms, a nursery, a trade school for continuing education, a boarding house for up to 200 students, a full health center, a community assembly hall, and eventually even roadside restaurants and shops, so that the operation can be truly self sustaining. Staff numbers are steadily increasing, with volunteers expected from Canada, the US, Germany, and Japan.

Though the future looks bright for SWSC, this project remains an intense labour of love, and it would not exist without the persistence and dedication of its leaders. “This isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t perfect,” says Izma, “but I never have to force myself out of bed in order to do it. That makes it all worthwhile.”

SWSC cannot exist without independent support. To get involved, consider a modest donation, buying some locally produced goods, or exploring the various volunteering opportunities available. Visit www.sameworldsamechance.org. for more information.

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Zambia’s Compounds

Life in Zambia’s Lower Class Neighbourhoods

Kitwe is a medium sized city in Northern Zambia’s Copper Belt. With the help of my friend David Ngungu, a local resident and NGO volunteer, I explored some of Kitwe’s less affluent neighbourhoods. While multinational mining corporations like Kansanshi minerals are extracting upwards of a million dollars a day in copper from the earth, the local population sees virtually none of it. This all too common story of African exploitation is exacerbated by a government that is so corrupt, even getting a driver’s license can be impossible to obtain without exorbitant bribes. In some cases, students have been prevented from graduating high school because of test administrators stealing their examination fees.

This would not have been possible without David, whose knowledge of the city and access to transportation were invaluable.


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Luc Forsyth Photojournalist Portfolio-1

Luc Forsyth Photojournalist Portfolio-2 Reconstruction in Tacloban Reconstruction in Tacloban Luc Forsyth Photojournalist Portfolio-5 Luc Forsyth Photojournalist Portfolio-6 Reconstruction in Tacloban Luc Forsyth Photojournalist Portfolio-8 Luc Forsyth Photojournalist Portfolio-9 Dhaka, Bangladesh. River taxi drivers take shelter during a rain storm. The evening call to prayer during the holy month of Ramadan. Bangladesh, 2012 Luc Forsyth Photojournalist Portfolio-13 Reconstruction in Tacloban Luc Forsyth Photojournalist Portfolio-15

A man smiles at a received text message. Kolkata, India, 2013. Luc Forsyth Photojournalist Portfolio-16 Luc Forsyth Photojournalist Portfolio-17 Luc Forsyth Photojournalist Portfolio-18 Luc Forsyth Photojournalist Portfolio-19 Luc Forsyth Photojournalist Portfolio-20 Small Scale Gold Mining in The Philippines Luc Forsyth Photojournalist Portfolio-22 Small Scale Gold Mining in The Philippines Luc Forsyth Photojournalist Portfolio-24 Manila, Philippines. A young family in San Andres. Luc Forsyth Photojournalist Portfolio-26


Luc is available for editorial, travel, reportage, and humanitarian assignments internationally. For questions about availability or to commission an assignment, please contact Luc here.


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Headshot 1 smallLuc Forsyth is currently based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and is available for reportage, editorial, humanitarian, and travel assignments internationally.

email: luc@lucforsyth.com

phone (Cambodia): +855 (0) 92 682 197

skype: lucforsyth



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Luc Forsyth |Diaries of a Visual Storyteller

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