We first came across Marco’s print while curating images about soccer (yes, I’m American) for our World At Play event during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. As he writes in his handwritten backstory, the image eventually made its way onto the cover of the May 2010 Sports Illustrated as part of their build-up to the World Cup.
While I was excited to show an image that had graced a magazine cover, I was moved by the motivation behind Marco’s work. In his backstory, he writes, “For over twenty years, I’ve been telling stories from the continent about subjects other than war, misery, or disease.”
Marco’s sentiment resonates deeply with me. I got my start in photojournalism on a Fulbright Fellowship photographing young people living in Nairobi’s Mathare Valley slums. My big takeaway from the year-long experience was that while Mathare residents lacked such basics as running water, electricity, and security, many of the people I photographed were nonetheless proud and conducted their lives with a sense of purpose. That sense of humanity is often missing from the media’s coverage of places like Mathare. Telling stories about “war, misery, and disease” is an important part of photojournalism’s role. And yet those can’t be the only stories we photojournalists tell. It’s important to remember that while life in Mathare is incredibly difficult, that does not make it worthless. As hip-hop artist Talib Kweli puts it in I Try (listen at 3:00), “Life is a beautiful struggle…”
Our mission at Nuru Project is to connect photojournalism with causes. So we’re suggesting that buyers of Marco Trovato’s print select Malaria No More as the benefit organization at checkout. Malaria No More works to eradicate malaria across Africa and has distributed mosquito nets in Luanda, where Marco took this image.