Can you find hope in the middle of a crisis? These 9 photos show you can.

When UNICEF's photographers set out to capture the light of hope, first they had to look in the darkness.

Hope is a hard thing to show in a photograph. It's not tangible, but we can feel hope in our hearts; it's invisible, yet we can see it in someone's eyes or hear it in their laugh.

Hope is a light that guides us through the darkness and the voice that sings to us in the silence. Humans need hope to carry on because, without hope, life would be too damn hard.


"Finding Hope," the new photo series by UNICEF's photographers is a stunning exposé about what hope looks like in the most dire situations.

In search of hope, these photographers traveled to people living in some of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time to find that most intangible and often fleeting human emotion.

When they found it, the results were breathtaking:

1. In Ghana, hope is...

Photo by Nyani Quarmyne/UNICEF, used with permission.

Hope is Munira Yakubu holding up Lorentia Bernard, her 2-year-old daughter, at their home in Widana in the Upper East region of Ghana.

Munira and Lorentia were abandoned by Lorentia's father. Murina is still in school and sells maize and groundnuts outside her house during school holidays to earn money to pay her school fees and support her daughter.

2. In Nepal, hope is...

Photo by Brian Sokol/UNICEF, used with permission.

Hope is Kuisang Rumba, a famous Tamang language actor, dancing with 9-year-old Jamuna Nepali at a UNICEF Child-Friendly Space in Charikot, Dolakha District, Nepal.

On April 25, 2015, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake killed more than 8,000 people and destroyed massive amounts of property, including numerous temples that were on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

3. In Jordan, hope is...

Photo by Ashley Gilbertson/VII Photo/UNICEF, used with permission.

Hope is 5-year-old Mohammed spraying water on his 11-year-old sister, Danya, and his cousins, 8-year-old Amnah and 4-year-old Mo’men, in the Za’atari refugee camp, in Mafraq Governorate. The family fled to this camp when their Syrian village was taken over by military forces in 2012.

The camp provides electricity at night, but during the day, refugees at the camp have to use what little water there is to combat Jordan's brutally high temperatures.

Half of Syria's population has been displaced by civil war.

4. In Uganda, hope is...

Photo by Jiro Ose/UNICEF, used with permission.

Hope is refugee children from South Sudan playing at a child-friendly space at a refugee settlement in Kiryandongo District.

Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugees have been displaced by military conflicts.

5. In Greece, hope is...

Photo by Ashley Gilbertson/VII Photo/UNICEF, used with permission.

Hope is refugees like Kinan Kadouni, 26, welcoming other refugees, like the boy he is carrying who has just arrived on the shore near the village of Skala Eressos, on the island of Lesbos, amid volunteers and other refugees. Both are refugees from the Syrian Arab Republic.

“This lovely boy made my day with his nice smile," Mr. Kadouni told UNICEF. “When their boat arrived, everyone looked pale and afraid and this boy was the only one with a big smile, and that is how he drew my attention immediately. I went directly to him and got him out of the boat and we started playing and laughing... I always try to welcome them with a smiling face because I think that will make them comfortable."

In 2016 alone, almost 100,000 refugees from Syria have fled to the shores of Greece.

6. In Cameroon, hope is...

Photo by ESIEBO/UNICEF, used with permission.

Hope is newlyweds Ibrahim and Hauna John embracing in the Minawao camp for Nigerian refugees in Far North Region. The couple got married in the camp the previous day.

While they planned to marry in their home village, they were forced to flee when it was attacked by Boko Haram insurgents. Ibrahim stayed in the village longer than Hauna in order to finish a school exam, though eventually they were reunited in the camp where they were photographed by UNICEF Africa.

“The very first day we met in the camp, I could not resist her. I had to hold her to my cheek. Really it was a great moment that day. Heaven was very close to me that day,” Ibrahim said.

7. In Uganda, hope is...

Photo by Jiro Ose/UNICEF, used with permission.

Hope is children watching a skit performed by other children at the Child Restoration Outreach, an organization helping street children in Africa.

In Africa, there are millions of children on the street. Organizations like the Child Restoration Outreach work to reintegrate them into the community, so they may become empowered, self-reliant, and proactive adults.

8. In Croatia, hope is...

Photo by Tomislav Georgiev/UNICEF, used with permission.

Hope is teenagers playing in the sun in the UNICEF-supported family area at the reception center in Opatovac. Croatia recently opened its doors to refugees from Serbia.

"There were between 2,000 and 3,000 refugees stuck on the border in the mud and rain when the gates opened," Al Jazeera wrote in October.

9. In Iraq, hope is...

Photo by Lindsay Mackenzie/UNICEF, used with permission.

Hope is Dunya, 13, opening a box of new winter shoes in her caravan in Baharka IDP Camp in Erbil Governorate.

In 2015, UNICEF distributed 200,000 sets of winter clothing to children and pregnant mothers in Iraq.

“In conditions where children have suffered, in some cases for years, from violence and exclusion from basic services such as education, it is unacceptable for them to not have shoes, coats or hats appropriate for the winter season," says Dr. Marzio Babille, UNICEF's representative in Iraq.

These photos are powerful. They show that hope is resilient and can be found anywhere.

Even in the midst of a tragedy or in a crisis with no end in sight, the one thing people always have is a glimmer of hope.

It's not an accident that many of these pictures that encompass that feeling of hope are of children. Children have a unique ability to find hope in the world no matter where they're from or what they've been through.

That's something people lose sight of as we grow older. As life goes on and the world begins to place more weight on our shoulders, we should always remember that children all over the world continue to smile and dance. Hope can be fleeting, and hope can be false, but hope is also the reason to continue forward. Never forget that.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less