My friend, Kathleen Hennessy, reminded me of the deadline (today, Oct. 1, 2010, naturally) for submission of photo essays for the social activist award from PhotoPhilanthropy. This is brilliant idea and a great organization “promotes and connects photographers with non-profit organizations around the world to tell the stories that drive action for social change.”

I spent yesterday and today putting together a photo essay, Leah’s Dream. It features photographs from my visit to witness Leah’s graduation from La Salle University in Osamis City in 2007.

Leah Mamhot spends time with her classmates before her last final exam at La Salle University in Ozamis City on Mindanao in the Philippines. Leah graduated in elementary education in 2007 and now works as a teacher near her village, Sinacaban, on Mindanao.

PhotoPhilanthropy offers a number of awards in different categories. I entered in the category for professional photographers and first prize is $15,000. Imagine how many scholarships and how much good work we could do with that money.

And it’s a win-win scenario. My photography and the work of Isis Initiative, Inc. will be featured on PhotoPhilanthropy’s website.

Thank you to Kathleen and PhotoPhilanthropy and to all the featured photographers for the work they do to contribute to social change. And thank you for the opportunity to share our work and commitment to provide access to higher education for women who have the desire but not the resources to get a college degree.


I was listening to an interview on NPR recently with Nicholas Kristof, an international correspondent who wrote the book, Half the Sky, with his wife, Cheryl Wu Dunn.

He mentioned that journalists usually focus on what’s wrong.

That one phrase caught my attention: focus on what’s wrong. Why not focus on what’s right, I thought?

As a photographer, I understand the concept. I am a full-frame shooter. Everything that’s in the frame is what I want in the frame. Each element contributes to the composition, the content, the emotion. Focus on what’s right.

My work with Isis Initiative, Inc. comes from a similar point of view. I grew weary and soul sick of focusing on dying children, rotting corpses and the devastation and brutality of war. I decided to make a difference helping women overseas gain access to education. Focus on what’s right.

The title of the book, Half the Sky, comes from a Chinese proverb that says that women hold up half the sky. Jody Williams, the Nobel laureate, recently said she thinks women hold up way more than half.

I agree. I think empowering women is one way to make an enormous difference for the health and welfare of our planet and the people who live on her.

And Isis Initiative, Inc. is my way to focus on what’s right.

Women Helping Women

April 11, 2010

Beth Rietveld is the director of the Women’s Center at Oregon State University. In the past, she’s admired my photographs and asked to exhibit them next fall. In February 2009, she attended our Mardi Gras fundraiser. 

Kurdish women who have lost their husbands and homes hope for assistance as they wait outside the parliament building of self-declared Free Kurdistan in Irbil. November 1993

Recently, she purchased 100 of our notecards to use for thank-you notes for the center. 

With that purchase, she made a donation to support our work; and, each time she sends a note, she helps share our message and our work.

We are proud and appreciative of the support. Thank you, Beth.

A Good Question

November 14, 2009


It’s stated with the upsweep intonation of a question.

“What are you doing back at the GT?

I’m sitting in Francesco’s gelato cafe in downtown Corvallis. I sometimes sit in a comfy chair by the window in the evenings and write my blog entry, taking advantage of their free wi-fi and the lively atmosphere.

I look up and toward the direction of the voice.

Karl  Maasdam. With his wife and two lovely daughters.

Good question. He’s the first to ask it directly since I returned to the Gazette-Times on October 28, 2009.

I have answers. None are easy. Or short. None that can quickly respond to a man with his family waiting by the door to exit.

“My non-profit,” I say.

Karl worked at the Gazette-Times as a staff photographer after I left a position vacant when I went to graduate school. He eventually left the newspaper to start his own successful photography business in town.

I had asked myself the same question before I accepted the job. Why return? There were many reasons not to return.

Yet, I wanted to write again and I wanted a steady income stream–to help nourish and support the growth of Isis Initiative, Inc. For two years, Isis Initiative has been my passion and my focus–on my time. I made those volunteer hours work by working independently–and sporadically.

I wrote freelance articles. I received a Writer-in-Residence appointment from Fishtrap. Inc. last spring. I taught high school journalism and photography in Condon and Fossil, Oregon. I did public relations and media consulting.

I had freedom–time to focus on my health and my nonprofit. I loved those years of liberty–and I struggled in them.

I chose a time of solitude and healing.

Now I’ve chosen to use my time and talent in service to my local community while I build a nonprofit that serves women worldwide.

I get paid to write. I have the privilege and sacred trust of listening to people’s stories and sharing them with others.

And, I have a stable income that grounds me as I grow the nonprofit. (It would be great if President and First Lady Obama would respond to my letters and donate some of the Nobel Peace Prize award money to Isis Initiative.)

I’m working locally and making a difference globally.

I put my cameras down. I didn’t want to carry them anymore–nor carry the burden of the events and images I’ve photographed over the past two decades covering breaking news and war.

I photograph now when I write. I see details and capture them–write them down. I arrange vignettes of a story as if I were moving slides on a light table to prepare a slide show.

I am still a visual storyteller. And I dig it.

Calendar for a Cause

November 9, 2009

At Isis Initiative, Inc., we support education for women and offer scholarships to help those who have the desire but not the resources to attend college.

My friend and fellow photographer, Betty Press, has made a commitment to helping school children in Sierra Leone, a country healing after years of brutal civil war and destruction–of infrastructure and of children’s lives and futures.

She has created a calendar as a fundraiser for Schools for Salone.

As you contemplate gifts this holiday season, I’d ask you to consider purchasing one of these beautiful, unique calendars and supporting the recovery and revitalization of Sierra Leone and her schoolchildren.

Thank you.

For more information:

An Invitation

July 31, 2009

Cheryl Hatch poses for a photograph while working on a project on Eritrea women in Hagaz, Eritrea.

Cheryl Hatch poses for a photo while working on a project on Eritrea women in Hagaz, Eritrea.

Bring Peace Not Pain


Women and War: The Unseen Cost of Conflict

Thursday  August 6, 2009 • 7 p.m.

Farmaesthetics Apothecary144 Bellevue Ave., Newport RI

Please join us for a visual and emotional look at the legacy of war through the eyes and words of Cheryl Hatch

Cheryl is a photojournalist who has spent much of her career in the Middle East and Africa during times of conflict. Through a slideshow of her work we will see an intimate look at many of the  faces of war’s collateral damage.

This event is open to the public.

There is no charge but seating is limited so please call to reserve your place. Phone:  401.835.1736

Bring Peace Not Pain • 123 Bellevue Avenue • Newport RI 02840

Bring Peace Not Pain is devoted to helping promote peace, beginning with inner peace, extending to relationships both personal and global.



This portrait of a Kurdish girl is one of six photographs by Cheryl Hatch featured on our new note cards.

This portrait of a Kurdish girl is one of six photographs by Cheryl Hatch featured on our new note cards.

Our note cards are now for sale in two local venues.

Sandy at Grass Roots Bookstore in Corvallis, Oregon agreed to carry the cards on consignment. She’ll start with the set of six, although she thinks they might sell better as individual cards.  

Sandy owns the fabulous independent bookstore with her husband, Jack; and they’ve been serving the community with greats books and music since 1971. They go out of their way to support local artists and authors…and now a local nonprofit. (They also carry my brother J’s latest CD: The Birmingham Sessions by the J Hatch Trio.) Thank you, Jack and Sandy.

Mark, owner of the Country Store in Blodgett, Oregon, has the cards for sale as well. The next time you’re heading to or from the coast on Highway 20, take a break at this local classic. Thank you, Mark.

The set of six retails for $10. A real value. Please stop by and purchase a set. You’ll support great local businesses and a grassroots nonprofit. And when you send the cards, you’ll be helping us raise awareness.

Thank you.


The Kurdish widows are victims of the late Saddam Hussein's anfal campaign. Isis Initiative president Cheryl Hatch created a set of six note cards as a fundraiser for the nonprofit.

The Kurdish widows are victims of the late Saddam Hussein's anfal campaign. Isis Initiative president Cheryl Hatch created a set of six note cards as a fundraiser for the nonprofit. The cards feature women from Africa and the Middle East.


We also offer the note cards as a thank-you give to anyone who donates $50 or more to Isis Initiative, Inc. If you’d like to learn more about Isis Initiative and how to support our work, please visit our Web site at We have already happily sent the cards to a number of our early donors.