John Vink Stories Index
I visited Cambodia for the first time, by chance, in 1989. I was hooked immediately and managed to come back in 1991, before the arrival of UNTAC, witnessing the return of King Sihanouk from exile, but also from Khmer Rouge leader Son Sen. In 1999 and early 2000 I was back again, taking pictures for the book 'Avoir 20 Ans à Phnom Penh'. And I stayed. I was tired of travelling. Now I was somewhere else without having to travel.
Before settling down in Cambodia in 2000 I was on the road for many years, hitting for 'home' once in a while only. These are stories made during that period.
Be they Afghan, Kurd or Khmer, there were more than 20 million refugees in the world in 1994. I have been tracking this population of uprooted individuals, chased by a regime that rejects them, or thrown out of their country by ethnic intolerance, fleeing drought, famine or wars. During more than one year, spread over a decade, I went to those places where families of displaced people wait for more than a bowl of rice. They wait for a possibility to take their life in their own hands again.
Mountain People Stories
After the Refugees book I embarked on another long term story. Again, just like 'Water in Sahel' or 'Refugees', it would be a story on the sense of belonging, of roots, of land, of origins, of refuge. The idea was to find out if people living in the relative isolation of mountaineous areas developed a strong cultural identity, or have people with a strong cultural identity found a refuge in the higher valleys? The project would take me to The Hmongs in Laos, The Mams in Guatemala and the Svans in Georgia.