“I

CLEO (Malaysia) - - TRAVEL SPECIAL -

was in­spired by my mother who was a refugee dur­ing the Viet­nam War. That’s why I have an in­nate de­sire to tell the sto­ries of sur­vivors from var­i­ous walks of life. My project for the phys­i­cally dis­abled com­mu­nity of Ca­haya Mu­tiara Ubud Foun­da­tion (YCMU) in Bali, In­done­sia high­lights the challenges and tri­umphs of th­ese in­spir­ing souls.

I be­lieve that ev­ery soul who inspires through ex­cep­tion­ally tough ex­pe­ri­ences can con­trib­ute and com­mu­ni­cate with fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, and this will even­tu­ally mo­ti­vate us to shape gen­er­a­tions into a bet­ter world. Not only does pho­tog­ra­phy al­low me to learn more about the world I ex­ist in, I also get the op­por­tu­nity to ex­press my per­spec­tives through this art form. I’ve been doc­u­ment­ing my con­nec­tion with Bali since my first visit in 2013. But it was in 2015 that this spe­cific chap­ter of pho­tog­ra­phy and vol­un­teer­ing be­gan. I had won a schol­ar­ship for the Foundry In­ter­na­tional Pho­to­jour­nal­ism work­shop which meant that, for a week, I be­came the stu­dent of Mag­gie Ste­ber, a

pho­tog­ra­pher. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d ever get to meet and learn from such leg­endary pho­tog­ra­phers at the Foundry work­shop. Be­cause of this ex­pe­ri­ence, I started doc­u­ment­ing a long-term story about the in­spir­ing lives of the YCMU mem­bers in Tam­pak Sir­ing, Bali. At the same time, I be­gan vol­un­teer­ing too. That’s when my con­nec­tion with Bali be­came stronger. The place al­lows me to find a spir­i­tual peace that I can­not find back in Malaysia. The peo­ple at YCMU also re­mind me how priv­i­leged I am. I’m grate­ful to have the op­por­tu­nity to en­counter such beau­ti­ful souls. Look­ing at them fight­ing ev­ery day to just live a nor­mal life, I am so in­spired by their tenac­ity and want to share their sto­ries to peo­ple across the globe. I hope that my photos of­fer glimpses of their lives while ed­u­cat­ing oth­ers about rare ge­netic dis­abil­i­ties and To be a good travel pho­to­jour­nal­ist, you have to have an ar­dent pas­sion and love what you do. Em­pa­thy is just as im­por­tant. I want to tell sto­ries that have as much depth as they are beau­ti­ful. So­ci­ety tends to judge some­thing based on what they see out­wardly, but I want my photos to cap­ture the true spirit, emo­tions and per­son­al­ity of my sub­jects – things that we don’t nec­es­sar­ily see at first glance. To quote Paulo Coelho, “ev­ery­thing we see, ev­ery­thing that is in front of us is just the vis­i­ble part of re­al­ity. We have the in­vis­i­ble part of re­al­ity, like emo­tions for ex­am­ple, like feel­ings”.

As a pho­to­jour­nal­ist, it is im­por­tant to be more sen­si­tive and less self-cen­tred – and share the knowl­edge, so it will be passed down to the next gen­er­a­tion.”

The kids at Ca­haya Mu­tiara Ubud Foun­da­tion in Bali get ready for a cul­tural per­for­mance. Nana and her renowned men­tor, pho­to­graph er Mag­gie Ste­ber (

Life’s un­ex­pected mo­ments of joy. are Nana’s cap­tures emo­tion. im­bued with

life En­joy­ing com­mu­nity over a camp­fire.

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