Through the Lens of Loss and Hope: “Patterns of Home” by Nora Lorek

When the world crashes, there must be something you can lean on anyway. Sometimes, it’s dad’s words you caught as a child, sometimes it’s a thin thread on your wrist, sometimes it’s an embroidered bedsheet you bring when fleeing your home – a tangible artefact of a life left behind. Documenting these stories means encapsulating hope, the essence of home and belonging, resilience of the human heart meeting loss.

A Swedish documentary photographer Nora Lorek shares the stories of people who faced the loss in its various faces, focusing on migration, culture, and human rights. With her Fujifilm GF55mm F1.7 R WR, Nora puts an image on those moments that for some people seem ordinary and for others are hard to imagine.

In collaboration with a women’s collective in the Bidibidi refugee settlement in north-western Uganda, she created a project “Milaya – Patterns of Home” showing the life of people who fled their homes during the civil war in South Sudan in 2016. Most of these women and children left during shootings at night, and their embroidered bedsheets called Milaya were among the only things they carried. These handmade patters serve as a tangible connection to their roots and help create a sense of home while waiting for the war to end.

“I was humbled to be welcomed by people who had to endure so much already. Fleeing their home, many of them for the third time in their life, but now letting me be around them and photograph their new homes and everyday is nothing I’d take for granted. It’s in these situations I want to be present and show sensitivity and where it’s so important that I don’t need to worry about my gear but fully focus on the people around me.”

Click for the full story as Nora gives her personal advice for capturing difficult stories with one lens to use and one heart to feel.

Nora Lorek

Nora is the co-founder of the Milaya Project, a non-profit that started as an assignment for National Geographic and now connects South Sudanese women in Bidibidi refugee camp with customers who want to support their traditional embroidery artform.

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