Through the Camera’s Lens: Documenting life, hardship, and transformation in remote places
Daryl Finley has traveled the globe to some of the world’s toughest places to capture photos of the people, places, trials, and transformation happening at the end of the road.
Check out photos, videos, and behind-the-scenes stories from our guests on the podcast. You won’t want to miss these exclusive extras!
Hear about the lives, stories, and communities behind the faces and places in Daryl Finley’s amazing photographs, captured in some of the world’s toughest places. As a former firefighter, Daryl’s unique background and experiences enabled him to step into disaster zones, like the 2015 Nepal earthquake, and Haiti, after Hurricane Matthew ripped through the island. Hear how he connected with people and documented their stories through the lens of his camera.
Through the Camera’s Lens: Documenting life, hardship, and transformation in remote places
Cathy: Welcome to the End of the Road podcast. My name is Cathy and I'm your host and tour guide as we journey together to some of the most remote, challenging places on the planet. I'm so excited to have you along for the ride. So buckle up, we're going to the end of the road. Our guest today is Daryl Finley. Daryl is a longtime friend and supporter of World Concern. He's had incredible opportunities to travel to many of the countries that World Concern serves in as well as some other places, just doing ministry over the years. And so I'm super excited to have Daryl join us today. Thanks Daryl for being here.
Daryl Finley: Thank you, Cathy. I'm excited to be here and flattered that you would want to hear my stories.
Cathy: You bet. You bet. So Daryl's got a really unique perspective on some of these places that he's been because with World Concern, he has traveled as a volunteer photographer and taken some incredible photos and video footage for World Concern, of the people that we're serving and the places that we work. And so today we're going to take a glimpse through Daryl's camera lens at some of the people that he's met, some of the experiences that he's had, and how he sees God at work in some of these places. And so, Daryl, how did you initially get interested in photography? Why, photos as an art form? How did that start?
Daryl Finley: Well, I can't say that I've always been all that interested in photography, but in 2007, I got a chance to go to Liberia, which is where my grandparents had been missionaries over the course of 30 plus years. And I borrowed a two megapixel camera from a buddy at work and really knew very little if anything, about photography other than how to point and shoot. But I think that during the three weeks that I was in Ghana and Liberia, I took some pictures of people and I realized the connection that it made and how it bridged our cultural divide essentially. And so I was able to establish relationships with people, just by taking their picture and then oftentimes just turning the camera around and showing them themselves, which many of them have never had their own picture taken. And to see themselves in that frame, it was so fun to watch them react and then they would point and laugh at each other and call their friends over.
Daryl Finley: So I got a lot of reps by doing that. And then as a result of that trip to Liberia, my wife and I ended up establishing a small nonprofit, and we started accepting donations from people. And we would go over to Liberia, which is where our area of focus was. And we would help the people there install wells and latrines, and it led to bigger things like housing and schools and education.
Daryl Finley: And as a way of proving the work, I would bring back pictures and photos and stories from the people in the field and show the donors. And, and the reaction that I got from the donors and the support that started to come in from that is really what established this desire to grow in photography and use that as a way, and as a creative way of showing the work that was being done by our little nonprofit and then bring those stories back home. So that's really what kicked off my love of photography. And so I saw how effective it was and how powerful it was. And so that's really where it started.
Cathy: Yeah, that's awesome. That's incredible. It really does create a connection with people and part of the purpose of this podcast is to bring the stories and the locations a little closer to the people that might not be able to travel to these places. And so in the same way, photographs do that really amazingly. And just for the listeners, we are definitely going to share some of Daryl's photos on our Instagram page at the End of the Road podcast. So take a look for those after you listen to the rest of our our conversation. So was that trip to Liberia, that original trip to Liberia? Is that where you got the travel bug, where you started to have an interest in serving and traveling overseas? Or how did that start?
Daryl Finley: No, I think that I've always enjoyed travel and from a very early age, my life was changed by, and really set on a certain trajectory because my parents picked us, my sister and I up and moved to Brazil where we spent six years as missionaries down there. So I was exposed to a whole different culture. I didn't know a single word of Portuguese, which is what they speak in Brazil. My parents would go off to language school and they'd come home to us. And we'd just been playing out in the street with the local kids. And we were speaking Portuguese and they were amazed that, how quickly we could learn it just more organically. And so that love and passion for a different culture was instilled in me at a very early age. And then in high school, I got to go on a mission trip to, we were back in the states now and got to go to a mission trip to Mexico.
Daryl Finley: And so borrowing from my experiences in Brazil and the similarities between Portuguese and Spanish, that was a really cool way to connect with the people down there. It was just a short term trip, but it was still very impactful. And then in 2007, that's when I got to go to Liberia and I think, I had been to other places and more vacation touristy-type places in those years in between. But Liberia was my first exposure to a true third world setting. And I saw the need firsthand. It was only a few years after the Liberian Civil War had ended. So the UN still had a presence there. The country was still in ruins and that's where I saw that firsthand. And while I was there, I couldn't wait to get back home.
Daryl Finley: But then between getting home and the three years between when I'd get to go back there, I just could not wait to get back to Liberia. And so that bug had taken hold and that was the beginning of this desire to always be looking for that opportunity to go back into the field and work with the people there. And honestly, if people ask me, where would you like to go if you could go anywhere? I don't gravitate towards the touristy spots. I think about places like Liberia or some of these other countries that I think we'll talk about that have really gotten my heart. And I just love, I love it.
Cathy: Yeah, that is so awesome. That's really cool. Do you consider yourself an adventurous person?
Daryl Finley: I don't really think of myself that way. I'm adventurous in some ways, I love to try new things, new locations that I've never been to, different foods. I've studied different languages. I speak Portuguese and can get by in Spanish. And then I developed an interest in Arabic. So I studied Arabic for a couple years. And so if that's adventurous, then yes. But some of these things that people are doing that you watch on TV and you just think that's insane. I would never do that. Plus I'm getting a little older and maybe a little bit more worried about my long-term health. So I'm not really a risk taker in that way.
Cathy: Yeah. That makes sense. That makes total sense. Although, I would say that you've got to have a certain amount of adventurous spirit as well as faith probably in God to travel to some of these places that you've been to. So if my memory serves correctly, with World Concern, you've been to Bangladesh, Haiti, Nepal, most recently in 2020 to South Sudan and the northern part of Somalia, which is Somaliland, any place else you've been with World Concern? That's a lot.
Daryl Finley: I've been to Haiti a couple times with World Concern and then a partner organization with World Concern. So yeah, I've been on some other trips with a couple other organizations and then of course, to Liberia almost 10 times or nine or 10 times and Mexico and Brazil, so...
Cathy: Yeah. So of all the places that you've been, what would you say was, for you on a personal level, the most challenging environment that you've ever experienced?
Daryl Finley: Yeah. So I'm a very relational person. I like to get to know someone. And I think what makes some of these places challenging is that I'm there for a very short time and spent a lot of time in some kind of a vehicle traveling over very rugged terrain to get to, not just the end of the road, like this podcast is called, but I think you should have a little tag on it that says, and beyond, because I feel like we went to the end of the road in many places, and then we went even further to reach those people. And so since the nature of the work I do with World Concern, when I get to go is so oftentimes very quick, I don't get a lot of time to establish meaningful relationships with the beneficiaries. And that makes it a little challenging, especially when you're there, you show up, you look different than everybody else.
Daryl Finley: You've got a camera, which some maybe know what it is, but have maybe never been photographed. And so that can be intimidating. So it's hard to establish a connection with people instead of just going in there and taking their photo. And then that's what you're really doing sometimes, is just taking their photo when in reality you want to establish a relationship and make a photo of them in collaboration with them. So Nepal was hard for me, because we spent a lot of time on the road traveling to very, very distant places up in the mountains, up in the hills, at the end of the road, on the mountain and then beyond. And, so I was there so briefly that I didn't get a chance to make as meaningful relationship with the beneficiaries as I had hoped to. But that said, I got a chance to spend a lot of time with the World Concern team.
Daryl Finley: So every country that I've been to with World Concern, some of the most amazing people I met were the World Concern staff members and the team members there. I know you can relate to that because you spend a lot of time with them, spend a lot of time in the car with them and lots of conversations, and you learn a lot about the culture and the place through them. So I would say Nepal was probably one of the more challenging and then Somaliland for the environment itself. It, was just, it's very hot, it's very desolate. And I don't know how long the drought's been going on now there, but it was going on when we were there. I only saw one small body of water the entire time I was in Somalia and we covered a lot of ground. And so that's got to be one of the most difficult environments that I've been in and that the people that I've gone to photograph and get stories of live in, I think that may be one of the more challenging ones.
Cathy: Yeah. For sure that drought is now in, surpassed the four year mark. And my hunch is that body of water that you saw in Somaliland is probably not there anymore. And so it's definitely a very, just from a physical environment standpoint a very harsh environment and really challenging for the people that live there. Have you ever been someplace where you crawled in your sleeping bag at night, or just laid your head down and said, wow, this is rough. I really can't wait to get home to my own bed.
Daryl Finley: I think that my experience in Liberia has prepared me for that, because I remember the first time, again, going back to that first trip to Liberia, I was absolutely miserable. I'd never been in such humidity and such heat, and I was really uncomfortable for three weeks. But then when I relive that and I think back well, but it laid the groundwork for so many amazing things since that point, that when I get the chance to travel with World Concern, I know my time there is precious and short. And so while, and the environment may be difficult and uncomfortable, I know that in a week or two, I'll be back home. And what's hard to accept is that, I get to come home and get back into the comfortable life here, have running water and warm water when I want it, food, plenty of food in the pantry, in the fridge, easy transportation, all of the amenities here at home, but the staff and the folks that live there, they will continue in that environment.
Daryl Finley: And even though maybe that's all they know, that doesn't make it easy for them. So yeah, there's times when you lay there in bed and you go, wow, I'm really looking forward to a cheeseburger or something that I'm used to and comfortable with, but I also don't want to waste this moment that I'm here. Because I don't know when I'll get to come back or if I'll get to come back. So that makes it all worthwhile.
Cathy: I love that perspective. That's really cool. Yeah. I often think some of the same things, that maybe the people that we meet at the End of the Road have never traveled anywhere else themselves. They don't know what life is like somewhere else, but it doesn't make it any easier. They still have hunger pains in the morning, just like we do when they're hungry and they get thirsty and they get sick and all those things just like we do. But the difference is, is that it's much more of a struggle for them to find those things. Yeah. So, thinking of all the places that you've been, is there a particular place, you've talked about the ones that were more challenging. Is there a particular place that really touched your heart or that you met someone really special that you think, if someone gave me the chance to go back there in that place again, see that person again, or those people, I would just go in a heartbeat. I really fell in love with that place. Any place like that?
Daryl Finley: Yes. Each one of these places has had something special about it. And I will say that the common denominator, I know you don't want me to talk about, make a plug for World Concern, but really, and truly the most amazing part about every trip has been the staff members. And I don't just say that, to say it, that I really mean that, I just listened to a previous podcast of yours with James, from Haiti, who you know well, and I've been on two trips where I've gotten to hang out with him and had a lot of great times with him, really good stories. And I've got a couple that I could share, but I don't know if he would want me to, but he's a lot of fun. There was a family that I met in Haiti that I went and photographed their house, because of the hurricane, Hurricane Matthew, I mean, had ripped the roof off of their home and just destroyed their livelihood.
Daryl Finley: He was, I believe a, this gentleman was a banana tree farmer and harvested bananas to sell. And I think most of those trees had just been wiped out. And so he gave me the tour of his place. I took some pictures of him in his house with no roof over his head. And at the end, I got to meet his wife and his older daughter. And I had my iPhone. And I said, is it okay if I take a picture of the four of us together? You, your wife and daughter and myself? And I had already been talking with them through James as a translator. And so I took out my phone and I held it out, in that typical selfie pose. And right as I was about to click on the picture or on the button to take the picture, his wife who was right behind me, just threw her arms around me and gave me the biggest bear hug from behind.
Daryl Finley: And I've got that picture. And that moment was so powerful and so meaningful to me because there was clearly a relationship that had been established there of trust and care. And I think that they sensed a genuine concern for their wellbeing as a representative of World Concern. So that moment really stands out. If I could see that family again, I wouldn't hesitate to go back. There's a lot of other people that I've met throughout the different trips. And so many of them I'd love to see, again, Jonas, in South Sudan. I spent a lot of time with him and Andrea, just amazing people. I love it.
Daryl Finley: They make it just amazing. When you have the time to establish that relationship with people and demonstrate God's love in a tangible way, being his hands and feet and just bridge that cultural divide. And for me, the camera has provided so many unique opportunities for me, things that I never thought, growing up that I would ever have the opportunity to do. And having been connected with World Concern has opened so many doors for that type of experience and to see what God's doing in the world is priceless.
Cathy: Yeah. So Daryl, you've had the opportunity to go into some places, we've talked about a few of them Nepal after the massive earthquake there in 2015, to Haiti in 2016 after Hurricane Matthew just ripped through that little island nation and really step into some disaster zones. You were able to go on fairly short notice for World Concern and capture those stories and pictures of how people had been affected by those disasters. And so you are a former firefighter. And so I imagine that role prepared you in some ways to be present with people who had experienced trauma. And I know it's one of the reasons that we felt confident sending you into disaster zones to take those pictures is because you had been, exposed to that stuff through your work. And so how did that, that experience serving as a firefighter prepare you for some of these really intense trips that you took, in a disaster?
Daryl Finley: Yeah. Well, I was a firefighter for almost 26 years. And so over the course of more than two decades, you just cumulatively, you see a lot of things. And I think most first responders would admit, you have to find a way to compartmentalize some of what you see, or what you see and continue to do the job that you have at hand, you have time later to decompress and to share with others that maybe, saw the same thing, and you need to just have an opportunity to share those things. But certainly the training that you receive in the fire department helps prepare you for what you're going to do in an emergency environment. And then there are resources that they had available to us that if we needed to get any PTSD type help, with those types of things.
Daryl Finley: And I'm grateful that in my career, some of the things that other firefighters saw, there's some tragedies that I'm grateful that I never saw. I did see enough and I've seen a lot. And so I don't know, for some reason, I think that the training that I received and then the amount of time that I did that job, and I'd seen a lot of things before, and maybe it's just how God wired me to just be able to, I guess, maybe it's just how God wired me. And he gave me the ability to perhaps compartmentalize it so that I was able to continue to do my job and not be hung up with what was actually happening, what we were actually dealing with. So in going to some of these disaster areas, I think I just leaned on some of that training.
Daryl Finley: And I hadn't seen destruction on that scale before. I'd never been to, the 911 disaster or some of these major earthquakes. So I'd never seen anything like that. I think I was there shortly after they had happened, but not immediately after. So I think some of that initial trauma had already been either mitigated or people were just in that stage where, okay, now what do we do? Let's pick up from this disaster and we have to rebuild our lives, but certainly there are still people scrambling to try to figure out where are we going to get food? Where are we going to get shelter and water? So, yeah, I think it was just leaning on that training and that experience in the department.
Cathy: Yeah. I love how God gives us experiences through our lives. Some of them don't seem to really connect at first and then you just see how every experience he allows us to go through, prepares us for what he has for us in the future. And so I think it's really neat that he gave that ability to just be present in a really hard situation. So, yeah. So take us to Nepal after the 2015 earthquake there, you mentioned traveling way up into the mountains. And one of the really difficult things about that earthquake is that it hit, some very remote locations.
Cathy: Everybody knows there's a lot of mountains in Nepal. And so there were tiny little communities and villages and such, way up in the mountains where roads crumbled and homes and buildings and all the infrastructure just crumbled and was in piles of rubble. And, and yet you guys had to get up there and see what was going on and what could be done to help. And, so what was it like, just arriving there and then getting out to some of those locations and realizing the magnitude of the disaster?
Daryl Finley: Right? Yeah. The earthquake in Nepal was really interesting in that going through Kathmandu, you would go through several miles of residential and commercial area. And it was incredible. You'd see one house completely intact, and then maybe the one right next door, completely leveled. And then you'd go another block of what seems to be, houses that haven't been damaged at all, to another house that's been completely destroyed. And then you'd to some neighborhoods and entire blocks were leveled. And I remember seeing this one, probably a three or four story concrete building, residential, like apartment, and it was leaning fully intact, and I don't know degrees-wise, but maybe 20 or 30 degrees, it defied physics. You look at it and you think, how is that thing not stand... Or how is it not falling down?
Daryl Finley: How is it standing up? But obviously it's completely worthless because they can't write it and it's going to have to be demolished. But then yeah, we would go up into the hills and drive and drive and drive and you'd get out to this mountaintop village, which was at the end of the road and beyond, and then you'd get there and there would be some houses intact and a little school building completely destroyed. So I don't know how earthquakes work exactly in terms of how they can damage one house and one right next to it, would appeared to be untouched. But it was fascinating to see that that's how it worked. And some people, depending on which house they were in, they lost loved ones and some didn't because their house was untouched. Yeah, very, very incredible. Very interesting to see.
Cathy: Yeah. I wonder sometimes if it has to do with the methods for constructing the homes and the buildings. In a lot of places it's the access to good solid materials, or even the knowledge of how to build something that would withstand something like that.
Daryl Finley: Yeah. That's true.
Cathy: So could be part of it, but yeah. So you mentioned, meeting people who had lost loved ones. And I do remember some of the photos, some of the stories that you brought back from Nepal and just people that had lost their homes and lost loved ones. And just sitting with them and hearing their stories. Probably one of my favorite photos of yours and I have a lot, I have a lot, I'm a big Daryl Finley fan. But one of my favorites is of a young boy, I would say he was probably 10 or 12 years old. And he's just sitting on top of a huge pile of boulders that came crumbling down in that earthquake and just the expression on his face and the resilience and the strength of that little boy. Do you remember him by chance or anything about his story?
Daryl Finley: Boy, if it's the picture that I'm thinking of, I do remember that it was, I believe it was the school that he attended, and I don't remember the details of that, the incident for him, but yeah, he was one that attended that school, I believe. And that was one of the buildings that was damaged, whether that was due to poor construction technique or if it was just, that was the materials they had on hand and they constructed it. I don't know that the school was in session at the time of the earthquake. I don't believe it was thankfully. But yeah, I do. If it's the picture I'm thinking of. I do recall that photo.
Cathy: Yeah. And it's a great photo. Does anybody stand out that you met in Nepal on that trip? Any people that you recall that stand out in your memory and someone that you think about often or pray for him?
Daryl Finley: There is a young lady. Well, maybe not so young, but there's a girl there. And I think she went by the name in short, Gita, Gitangela, I think is her name. And she served as a translator for us, and she was such a pro. She was so good. Her English was really good. And she was able to connect with the people that we were interviewing. And actually we went to a church service there in Nepal, and of course it was in their language. So I didn't understand anything, but it was neat to see she was there. And that's where I met her, I think for the first time, and is really neat to see people on that corner of the world, gathering together, worshiping the Lord on a Sunday morning. And then this didn't matter, the language or the difference, the language barrier for me, you could still see in sense that the Lord was there.
Daryl Finley: He was there, he was working and that the people loved him. So that was neat. And then afterwards, we got a chance to do an interview of some of the people that were affected by the earthquake. And that's where Gita helped us do some translation. And so we've since become friends on Facebook. And I see her family is growing, which is neat to see, and she was fantastic. So she stands out. And then the team that I was there with, two of them was a husband and wife from Indonesia, Anthony and Grace, Tony and Grace, and then a couple from Kenya, Greg and Jane. And they were all just wonderful, wonderful people. And they were there, they stayed there for quite a bit longer than I was there. So just got a chance to get to know them a little bit and see what great people they are.
Cathy: Yeah. Greg is still with World Concern, working in Kenya and-
Daryl Finley: Awesome.
Cathy: Just a gift to us. So, yeah, really great. I want to just pause for a moment and thank our listeners for joining us today. If you're just hearing about World Concern for the first time, and you're curious to learn a little bit more about who we are and what sets us apart from other organizations you might be familiar with, please visit worldconcern.org/podcast, and learn a little bit more about what we do. And now let's get back to our conversation.
Cathy: The church service. Yeah, I love thinking about not just people worshiping in their own culture and in their own way, but in the midst of such a severe trial, surrounded by rubble and destruction and loss and grief, that they were able to come together and worship, and just reminds me that, God deserves our praise and our worship, in every situation, not just when things are going the way we hope they would or that sort of thing, but especially in the hard times. So, yeah. So you also went to Haiti after Hurricane Matthew in 2016, how was that disaster similar or different? How were people affected and coping, take us there landing into the Southern part of the country, where the hurricane really crossed over. What was that like?
Daryl Finley: Yeah. Haiti. So and it's not to take anything away from Nepal, but the devastation that I saw in Haiti seemed to be more widespread. It was not selective at all. It was just like this massive, obviously a massive gust of wind came through and just leveled it. And the way I described it, I think to you, when I got back was that there was no discernible pattern to the destruction. Like in Nepal, it was, this house was destroyed, a couple houses over were fine, and then another one, but in Haiti, everything was either leveled or every house had damage to it. And of course there's a lot of palm trees or coconut trees there. And its as though everything had just been thrown into this giant blender, turned on high and then just take the top off and it just was going to go wherever it goes.
Daryl Finley: And so it was clearly a very, very violent storm and yeah, that was something I'd never seen before. And I reviewed some video footage of it the other day of, while we were driving out into some of these remote areas and I just put my little GoPro on the dash of the car and you just see for miles, just destruction and people just, I think they're just stunned. And those who survived were just stunned and trying to figure out what are we going to do? How are we going to put our lives back together? At one point we were trying to reach the furthest point that we could in a day, which took us past bridges that had been washed out and other villages that had been destroyed. But we were trying to get an assessment of the damage that was further out.
Daryl Finley: But the people had seen us go and try to get further and further out each day. And the people that we had passed in the other villages along the way, at one point, I think they could see that we were an NGO, non-governmental organization to render aid. Although we weren't really providing aid, we were just trying to get, do a reconnaissance basically and figure out what the damage was. But in their mind, that we were taking aid to a further point than them. And they surrounded the car at this one point and were like, we need help. We don't have water, we don't have food. And that's where the World Concern team member and interpreter James, that's where he was able to talk to these folks and explain to them what we were trying to do and that we would do what we can to help get them some help too. But we were just trying to assess the damage even further out. So yeah, and to answer your question, it's different than Nepal in that the damage seemed to be much more widespread.
Cathy: Yeah. I remember seeing some of your photos and some of that video footage and it looked like the palm trees looked just like toothpicks sticking up, because all the leaves had been ripped off of them. And like you said, a lot of the homes there, they might have some concrete walls, some, some were wood, but they all had those kind of metal corrugated roofs that just were like a kite in that storm and just ripped right off and just exposed people to the torrential rain and the winds and everything. And so you met some of those people that had their roofs ripped off and they were probably just hanging on, for dear life to not get taken away by the wind and stuff, but what was their experience like?
Daryl Finley: Well, yeah, I think those who had any forewarning ran to somewhere, I think I remember talking to one gentleman and he had two daughters and they ran to the closest biggest, I think it was a big concrete school building and they all tried to hide in there. Honestly, I don't know how anybody that didn't make it into a structure like that survived because you couldn't hold on tight enough to avoid being blown away or and then even, I mean, things flying in the wind are obviously projectiles that are super dangerous. So I don't really know where some of these folks went to because they had to, I don't know how much warning they had. It couldn't have been much. Communication is tough there, and for everybody in these remote areas to be able to get the word that this is the real deal, you're going to have to get somewhere safe. But that is one place I know that gentleman and his daughters ran to and got there just in the nick of time and they survived.
Cathy: Yeah. Are those the two little girls that you photographed peering through the hole in the wall of their home? I love that picture. And I remember you talking too about people that were injured running or fleeing, trying to get to a neighbor's home that was more sturdy or to a shelter and that sort of thing when they realized the power of the storm. And it really makes me think about just the importance of a lot of what World Concern does, in places like Haiti, that are very disaster-prone, is disaster risk reduction work trying to help people prepare and implement systems where they can know and advance. And a hurricane is one of those things that, an earthquake, you have no idea that it's coming, a hurricane you can see the weather patterns and although they don't have, news, that's telling them and stuff as a community, they can share that information.
Cathy: And so they're doing things like putting warning flags out for the community to see, like what level the storm is coming, what level is it? Do you need to get to shelter? And then of course, constructing and reinforcing those local, school buildings, churches, places that could be used as a sturdy shelter. And so every time I hear stories like you're sharing, I just think about, the importance of it. And a lot of people, are incredibly willing and wanting to help after a disaster, they see the destruction, they see the loss of life and they say, how can I help? And, so, I know we said we weren't going to plug World Concern, but I would just say that-
Daryl Finley: I will.
Cathy: It's important to get ahead of that stuff and to support organizations and programs that are helping people prepare and reduce the loss of life in advance. And so just kind of a little, just came to my mind as you were talking about that is just, it's a fairly simple solution, particularly for a hurricane to show people a path to the nearest shelter and let them know when they need to go. So, yeah.
Daryl Finley: One of the things, if I could just add that I do love about World Concern since you don't want to plug them. I will, but is that on a lot of the trips I've been on, it's not World Concern going it alone. You get there and you see that there are other organizations and it's not a competition. It's like, how can we work together? Because at the heart of our ministry is we love people. We want to demonstrate the love of Christ to people. And we don't have the capacity to do every aspect of disaster management or rebuilding or reconstruction, all that. So you lean on other partners that have a common, maybe they have a common ministry or maybe it's totally different, but either way, the ultimate and the end goal is to help and love on people. And I love that about World Concern.
Cathy: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for that. Yeah. Okay, so last location on our little journey today to some of the hard places that you've been to. So as I mentioned, right at the beginning of the pandemic, you took a trip in February of 2020 to the northern part of Somalia, Somaliland and to South Sudan. But I want you to take us to Somaliland for a few minutes here and you described it a little bit earlier as desolate and dry, it's a place that very few people get to go. And so I remember presenting this opportunity to you. This is a big one, this is a pretty incredible opportunity to go to this place, that is just probably one of the hardest places that World Concern works. So, describe stepping out of the car on that first day when you got out to the area where you were going to be working, what did you see around you? What were the people like? What stands out in your mind, in your memory about Somaliland?
Daryl Finley: Yeah, well, it was a unique opportunity and one that I'm very grateful for. I never thought I'd go to Somaliland or Somalia. And there I was. And, the interesting thing about travel is on an airplane. You don't obviously get to see if you're not, unless you're the pilot, you don't get to see ahead of you. You just look out the window and you don't know what's coming up, oftentimes. And so landing in Somalia was, I was with another partner of World Concern's, David Harms, and we landed in Somalia and you didn't see anything. And then all of a sudden, there's this tiny little airport and you're landing there, and you hope that you've got everything right with your paperwork, your passports, and you get through immigration. And because if not, you are in the middle of the desert, and there doesn't seem to be anything around.
Daryl Finley: And so I remember walking off the plane, David and I turned around, looked at the plane and looked around like, wow, it's hot. And we took a selfie of us in front of the plane. We got to the immigration and it was a breeze. And then we get outside or just past that, and I'm okay, I hope our staff is here and low and behold, there's Peter Mutua, who is a phenomenal guy. Love that man. And instantly you just feel like, okay, I don't, doesn't matter where I'm at. I'm with Peter and the team, we're good. And so then we get out and I think he took us to the hotel and got us situated. And then we got in the car and drove, and drove and drove and drove. And I'd never seen camels in the wild before, because I'd never been to a country that had camels.
Daryl Finley: And so of course you see that first one, you're like, oh, did you see that? There was a camel. And Peter's probably chuckling inside, and like, yeah, this is the first of thousands of them that you're going to see. And so we got to a point where we stopped for the night, and again, it's hot, but again, Peter was gracious and kind, and he got us all situated. And then the next day we got in the car and drove again and really, really far out into the desert. And there's nothing for hundreds of miles, I don't remember how far we went, but it was at least three hours of driving through the desert before you start to see, okay, now there's some trees, a little bit of an old dried out river bed, and then you come across or come up to a small little village, and it makes you just wonder, how did these folks end up here?
Daryl Finley: And they've probably been there for hundreds, if not longer of years. And you think, how did they settle here? There doesn't seem to be anything here. But then the World Concern team had told the community that they were going to be giving out those emergency food packets and take measurements of the kids' arms to see if there had been progress in their health. So I do remember that one of the challenges there was that they had, everybody set up underneath this batch roof community meeting area, which from a photographer standpoint was really tough because the light was very splotchy and it was the middle of the day. So top down light. And so as much as it pained me to ask him, I said, is there any way we can move this to a place where there's a little bit more shade, which was a big ask because there aren't really any places in the middle of the desert where there's shade and no trees.
Daryl Finley: But we were able to get some good stories and good photos, I think, and really capture what the life of some of these folks is like. And some of the challenges that they faced with the drought. So I was really happy with some of the photos that we were able to get from there. And I had two cameras and I gave one to Peter who himself is a great photographer. So he has some of the picture. He took some of the photos that were taken at that village. And so I've wanted to make sure that he gets credit when I see a photo that you used from my trip there. But I know that's a picture that he took and he's got a really good eye, and he can connect with the people because he doesn't look like I look.
Cathy: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, were people surprised or hesitant to talk with somebody that looked so different from them?
Daryl Finley: I think if I had just shown up there, yes. But because World Concern has a reputation in that village and Peter goes out there on a pretty regular basis. And I think maybe he had prepared them saying, there's going to be a team coming from the United States. So that helps lay the groundwork for okay, what they can expect, but there's still, I look very different than they do. And so when I come up with a camera, which is, I don't have a small camera, it's a pretty good size camera. It can be pretty intimidating, but that's where the beauty of the digital camera comes in. And I'm not an old school purist that only shoots film or anything like that, a much more recent, new edition to the photography world. But I use that to my advantage using the back of the camera.
Daryl Finley: And that is just, it melts the hardest heart. So you just take a picture of someone and if you get a chance to take their picture and you show it to them, you can get them to just laugh at themselves, which they're usually pretty good to do, then you've got them, and they'll open up, they'll take you to their home, they'll invite their friends and they say, hey, take a picture of my wife and my kids and my goats or whatever they have. And so that opens so many doors.
Cathy: Yeah. Well, you're not the first photographer to express how difficult it is to take photos in Somalia, just with the light color of the sand and the real direct sunlight, it's really bright. And then, again, like you said, any shade at all is typically filtered sunlight and makes the photos look splotchy, but you did a great job. And I think, the Somali people, I've always thought are particularly beautiful people, all the people all over the world and all the people that World Concern serves are beautiful to me, but just their features. And, I've always just thought, oh my goodness, the women there and their high cheekbones, they're just, really beautiful.
Cathy: And so you really captured that beauty, lots of color in their clothing. And just the kids, obviously I could see in your photos that you really connected with the children there because they just, again, some of the boys, some of the older boys that you photographed just looked like they were having so much fun with you getting their picture taken and stuff.
Daryl Finley: Oh, that's awesome.
Cathy: And yeah, some of the babies looked a little freaked out, but...
Daryl Finley: Well, I'm not the best. I'm not the easiest on the eyes, but one of the tricks, I'll call it a trick, but it's something that I genuinely want to do. But I also found is very advantageous is that, oftentimes I'll be on a plane going somewhere and the plane is filled with people from that area. And so they speak a little bit of English, because there's a chance they're coming from an English speaking place and going back home. So I'll just ask them and say, hey, can you just tell me a few expressions? How do I say, hi? How do I say, thank you? How do I say smile? How do I say laugh? And so I'll write them down. And so I did ask, I think in this trip to Somaliland, I asked one of my interpreters, how do you say, laugh?
Daryl Finley: And the word for laugh, if I'm remembering correctly is qosol. And so it's Q-O-S-O-L, or something, that's how it would look written. And I tell you, I was going to take a picture of this mother and her child. And it was in her, the fast roof house that she has. And I said, qosol, and she thought that was the funniest thing. And she just died laughing. And so, I mean, and it just totally eased everything. And she like, okay, was willing to pose for me. And I just kept saying, qosol, qosol, and she would just laugh. And then she called her husband in.
Daryl Finley: And one of my favorite pictures from that trip is of this gentleman, her husband, he's just got, he wasn't expecting it. And I had him, can you stand here through the interpreter? And I said, qosol, and it just shocked him. And his expression lit up, he smiled and laughed, and he is got this big toothy smile and just, oh, I just love that photo because of him, it just was one of those moments where it comes together, the lighting, the photography, or yeah. The lighting and the camera and all that, the gesture-
Cathy: That's so cool. Yeah. I imagine you've got lots of favorite photos. Is there one you've got blown up and framed in your home or is there one that you've got on your screen saver on your computer, or something that you just think this is my all time favorite photo that I've taken.
Daryl Finley: You might think I do, but I don't have one favorite. And I think because like a lot of things, you have to qualify, why something is your favorite or your preference for this or that. And for me, there's a few criteria that a photo has to touch on in order for it to elevate to one of my favorites. And one of them is just, it might have just captured a moment that is nostalgic to me, where it just brings me back. Like the photo of me and the family in Haiti, it was on an iPhone. It's a, not a good picture. And my, I look terrible in it. They look awesome, but I love that photo because it takes me back to that moment. And then the impact of the photo, I was at a watering hole, a community watering hole in South Sudan.
Daryl Finley: And I noticed that across the watering hole were all these little heads popping up out of the water. So I made my way over to the side, there's bees everywhere. And then I got down, I was taking video of these little heads popping up and they were frogs, well, this is the same water hole that people are drawing their water from, that they're drinking and cooking with, and bathing in. And right at that moment, I just happened to look up to the side I had just come from, where the people were drawing water and a huge cow had just walked down, stood in the water and started drinking the same water that these people were drawing from. So I just quickly snapped a photo of that. And I think that's a powerful photo because it captures so much about the situation there with the water, contaminated water and the living conditions.
Daryl Finley: So that may be one of my favorites. If you have time, I'll just share two more. One of them is I'm not a good photographer when it comes to family photos and group photos. I'm just really not good at it, but there's a family in South Sudan and they've got, I think, five children, and I positioned them on a bench in front of their hut. And the dad is holding this little baby toddler. She's standing on his lap and he's looking at her with this look of pride and the whole family is smiling. And it just, to me, that was probably the best group photo I've ever taken, probably will never repeat it and had never done it up to that point and so that's one of my favorites. And then lastly, in South Sudan, I met this beekeeper that had been given the tools to be a beekeeper and produce honey through, I believe the program there at World Concern.
Daryl Finley: And he was this towering, fascinating looking gentleman. I'm not exaggerating. He was at least seven feet tall wearing this huge white flowing robe. And I thought, he's just got this scarification on his forehead, which is where they cut their foreheads at a young age. And then it remains as a pattern on their forehead for the rest of their life.
Daryl Finley: I had to take a portrait of him, which is my favorite type of photography, is just the head shots. And so I positioned him in just where I wanted him and I just crouched down in front of him and was getting ready to take the photo. But I noticed the light was falling on his face in a certain way. And I wanted him to turn his head a little bit to the right or to the left. And so I usually, since I don't speak his language, I just mimic what I want him to do, or I gesture how I want him to do. So I took two fingers on my hand and I just pushed my chin over to the side just to get him to move his chin in the same direction.
Daryl Finley: And then I see him reach up with his own hand and put it on his chin and moved his head with his two fingers. He moved his chin in the position I wanted, he got it just right. But his hand stayed and I snapped the photo. And that's one of my favorites because he's an awesome looking person and is a funny story to tell, that he just mimicked exactly what I asked.
Cathy: Yeah, no, I know some of those photos really well. They're so great. I think one of them, the family that you were talking about in front of their home, I think if listeners go to worldconcern.org and they click on what we do, I believe it's the photo at the top of that page. And so they can see that photo, some of these others again, we'll be sharing on social media and stuff so that people can see some of Daryl's incredible photos.
Cathy: And we would just love to share those with you. I think that when you see them, people will realize that they've seen them in lots of places through World Concern, if you've been following us for a while. So Daryl, thank you for bringing us into these places, through the lens of your camera, through the incredible people you've met, the places you've been, the photos you've taken. It enables the rest of us to experience at the very least what it looks like. And then today hearing some of these stories, what it's like in its entirety. But thank you for joining us today. Thank you for sharing those photos, those beautiful faces with us and thanks for your ongoing support and partnership with World Concern.
Daryl Finley: Thank you so much. This has been a lot of fun. It's been a privilege to serve with World Concern. I'm always honored to be a part and contribute to such a great ministry and to be the hands and feet of Christ. I'm privileged. Thank you so much, Cathy.
Cathy: Absolutely. Thanks, Daryl. I want to thank our listeners for joining us today. I hope that your mind has been opened up a little bit. Your heart has been touched through some of the stories that you have heard today. As I mentioned earlier, if you're curious about learning a little bit more about World Concern about our work beyond the End of the Road, you can visit worldconcern.org/podcast to learn more. I want to thank CRISTA Ministries, World Concern's parent organization for making this podcast possible. And I also want to thank Casey Helmick and the whole team at Terra Firma for their production and editing and consulting expertise, for helping us bring these stories to life and bring them to you. Thanks again for joining us today, we look forward to more stories at the End of the Road, next time.