Read part one here. In 2019 I travelled by taxi on the highway north from the Syrian capital, Damascus, to Aleppo. It was late April, the most beautiful time to be in Syria. I had last visited Aleppo a decade earlier, before the war, when it was still Syria’s largest city. The war had raged for six years when my journalist father and I took … Continue reading From Brutality to Beauty: Collective trauma, culture and meaning – Part two
Part one of a three-part series reflecting on the role of culture in providing meaning for devastated communities. “Can you ask him to explain what happened that day?” asked my journalist father sitting alongside me, notebook in hand. “There have been different accounts in the media and some video that might have been faked. I need to clarify what happened.” Tarek sat in front of … Continue reading From Brutality to Beauty: Collective trauma, culture, and meaning – Part One.
A sequence of testing circumstances in Timor-Leste in 2021 showed how quickly the veneer of success dissolves when the right solvent is applied. Continue reading A Storm, A Traumatised Nation, And A Dog Named Bob
Words by Alex Ray and Maria Lopes for UNDP Timor Leste – Photos by Alex Ray – (c)UNDP Timor-Leste 2021 Nada is the Tetum and Portuguese word for ‘nothing’ and a good summary of what Flavia Ribiero Soares and her family – of seven children and one grand-child – have left after the Easter Sunday cyclone and flooding. The cyclone devastated communities across Timor-Leste – … Continue reading Nada: Easter tragedy washes away lives and livelihoods of Timor-Leste’s most vulnerable –
by Alex Ray Originally published by DevPolicy Blog on May 24 2021 Fifty kilometres east of Dili is the site of one of Timor-Leste’s most renowned scuba diving locations. It is reached via the nearby Santo Antonio Grotto rest stop where timber-slat huts sell plastic bottled water and noodles in Styrofoam cups. Directly behind the shops are mountains of burning plastic packaging in a seasonally-dry … Continue reading Burning ambition: Timor-Leste’s waste management problem
by Alex Ray, for Care International (2020) Eight o’clock in the morning Monday to Saturday is ‘rush hour’ in Timor-Leste’s Liquica municipality, when the area’s remote muddy roads are dotted with children grouped in camaraderie, walking long distances to school. For 265 of them, aged 5-12, their trip to Faulara primary school takes up to two hours each way, with regular river crossings in wet-season. … Continue reading HATUTAN: Communities empowered through school meals program
A trip into the mountains touches on some of the fundamental challenges still facing rural communities in Timor-Leste.
Words and photos by Alex Ray
When doctor Andre Belo told me how he spends most weekends I was impressed and wanted to know more.
Nearly every Friday he leaves his workplace, the United Nations clinic in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste, to lead volunteer medical missions to some of the country’s most remote villages.
Continue reading “Health for All: The volunteers serving Timor-Leste’s remote communities”
by Alex Ray
An Arabic poem written in 2017 while living in Beirut and traveling Lebanon’s coastline in beaten-up minivans. Published by Rusted Radishes in Volume 8 “Sea Change”. Translation to come soon.
Continue reading “Poetry: Life is like an ocean wave”
by Alex Ray
April 22, 2020
“In a way, I still find so much beauty amid this destruction,” says Salah Maraashi as he wanders the now-ghostly old souks (covered markets) of Aleppo with his camera just before sunset. Perhaps only a photographer could find such destruction alluring.
Continue reading ““The world through my eyes”: The locals documenting Aleppo’s ravaged beauty”
Tuesday May 7 2019, Palmyra, Syria
The shelling had been non-stop from sundown to sunrise. Despite global headlines announcing the looming defeat of ISIS, dozens of soldiers have been killed in swift ISIS raids in the steppes surrounding Palmyra recently.
Luckily we only learnt this after our visit.
Continue reading “Syria Journal – The bleak desert highway”