|Camille Lepage in Central African Republic. AP Photo/Sylvain Cherkaoui, taken from US News|
Camille wanted to show the world about the most neglected conflicts and spend the last two years living in South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
In an interview last year she said, "I want the viewers to feel what the people are going through. I'd like them to empathize with them as human beings, rather than seeing them as another bunch of Africans suffering from war somewhere in this dark continent. I wish they think: 'Why on Earth are those people in living hell; why don't we know about it and why is no one doing anything?' I would like the viewers to be ashamed of their government for knowing about it without doing anything to make it end."
I am not sure what it is that I am drawn to in her work. Maybe its that she took beautiful, often shocking, photos; or maybe its that she worked in countries and on issues that I care about deeply. Maybe its that somehow, she reminds me of myself at 26. I was 26 when I started working for MSF. At the time, I was willing to go anywhere and to do anything to help people in need, particularly those in conflict settings. Help is a loaded term and probably not the best description of what I was actually doing, but I can't think of a better way to say it, that is truly what I wanted to do. I have changed a lot as a person since then and in some ways better than others, I may be more effective at my work, even more thoughtful and conscientious, but I can get caught so up in skepticism, pragmatism, and diplomacy that I lose my inspiration along the way. In many ways, I miss my 26 year old self and the confidence that I once had.
Some people might say that Camille took too many risks or that she was too young, or even that she died in vein. I hope they don't. We need more people like her.
Please please please check out her work and learn about the conflicts that she covered in the the New Yorker, New York Times, The Washington Post (here too), AFP and her website.