While touring Zambia a few years ago, I stopped by rural settlement where an entire town has been relocated because their water supply had been contaminated and their land poisoned by acid drainage from nearby Dutch owned copper mining operations. The mining industry in that country has completely contorted the landscape by piling up huge mounds of debris on the landscape, carving gaping holes into the earth and of course uprooting communities that get in their way because it is cheaper to move and entire town than it is to be kind to the earth.
In the makeshift town located in badlands that nobody else wanted– people do their best to make a life disconnected from the former lands of their ancestors. This bleak existence had as a bright spot, the alert and deeply intelligent faces of the children on the village.
Unsinkable in the heart of adversity, nearly everywhere kids seem to be kids. Faces without guile and eyes like windows into souls not yet touched by the hopelessness around them. One odd exception popped up in the group photo with my travel buddy Alex Matheissen in the middle. To his right a young boy with a cap pistol aimed right at me the photographer. His face a mask of stoic determination as if to say, the gun will someday be my ticket out of here? If we take the personal power of an entire generation will they regain it by any means necessary?