Praised by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Han ten Broeke for his exceptional qualities and reporting in war and conflict zones, Bud Wichers has reported on conflicts worldwide. He was born in a kampung in Indonesia and was adopted at a young age by Dutch parents. It feels like a privilege for him; that’s what motivated him to do something with this opportunity. Through the lens of his camera he tells the story of people who do not have the opportunity to do it themselves.
He lived in the West Bank during the second intifada years ago and taught at the University of Birzeit. Wichers also tutored children in refugee camps. “Many journalists couldn’t enter the area at the time, so I was quickly approached by Dutch media to report for them,” the journalist says. This is where his passion for journalism started. Ever since he has been looking for the places, where few journalists report. This is where the abnormal stories can be found. Three days after 9/11, Wichers got on the plane to New York. “I want to experience history,” he explains. “On the spot. I stood there, where the ash of the twin towers was still smoking. There were children with pieces of cardboard on the street, looking for their parents. With cardboard sheets with the words written: have you seen my daddy? “According to Him, it’s the emotion of survivors that effects people.
Yet he isn’t able to show the harsh reality on news programs. The pictures can’t be too harsh because the media wants to protect their viewers. “The damage has been done, why not show it? People would take action so much sooner if they saw what really happened,” he says. “You will often see the footage of steaming wrecked houses, but you miss the connection with the people who have lived there.” What he can’t show in the mainstream media, he shows in what he calls ‘speeches’. He does lectures, talks at schools and does interview to be able to tell the real stories.
“One of my greatest talents is to understand people. I translate that into a story that the general public understands.” That’s what he does through his pictures and videos. Wichers doesn’t believe in good or bad. This is, according to him, his other great talent. The talent not to judge people. He only condemns the evil deeds that people carry out, not the people themselves. “Behind every act lays a story, whether it’s ISIS in Syria or the Israeli soldier in Haifa.” He believes that hatred comes from fear and anxiety arises from misunderstanding. Therefore, he wants people to see his work, to understand the other.
When asked what talent everyone should have, Wichers answers: “I wish that more people would listen to each other and would be open to other people. I’m not talking about just hearing the other, but really listening to them. Peace often starts with the understanding of one another. There is much misunderstanding in the world. You do not have to agree with each other, but if you don’t start a dialogue, you won’t ever get a better world.”
About the picture:
“This picture is very special to me. Questions were asked in the parliament in response to some of my pictures. My pictures changed some decisions of the Dutch government. Despair and hopelessness is visible in the girls’ eyes.”