Tom Little, IGVP And The Need For Peace

Tom Little, IGVP And The Need For Peace

A photo essay by John Stanmeyer about Tom Little and NOOR.

(Click the photo to go to the story at VII)

This post is a little out of the ordinary for me. But I think my readers will still be interested in the photos and the plea associated with it is important. By now, you’ve heard of the killings in northern Afghanistan. The Taliban executed 10 Christian aid workers for no apparent reason other than the fact they were Christians that might be sharing their faith. The leader of the 10 was an eye surgeon named Tom Little, who had given 30 years of service to the people of Afghanistan. This is a real shame. It’s an insult to Islam and goes a long way at damaging any relationships that are being built between the two faiths. This hits home because I know several employees with this NGO. I did not have the privileged to meet Tom Little, but I wish I had. Yes, it was no secret, they were Christians. The fact is, it was their faith that motivated them to spend years helping the blind see in Afghanistan.

All these doctors and workers were associated with the National Organization of Ophthalmic Rehabilitation (NOOR) Eye Care, a program of IAM. NOOR does nothing but good for the people of Afghanistan in northern Pakistan. Their doctors and workers preform cataract surgeries, make glasses and help people see. According to Wikipedia:

In 2009, NOOR treated 179 000 patients and performed 11,000 surgeries. In addition, Ministry of Public Health eye hospitals supported by NOOR saw 157 000 patients and performed nearly 7,000 surgeries. It dispensed over 17,000 pairs of glasses, and 359,000 bottles of eyedrops. NOOR has a particular emphasis on training and it runs a three-year ophthalmology residency programme. Almost all ophthalmologists and all ophthalmic technicians in Afghanistan have been trained by NOOR.

There are reports that people who had been blind from birth and in their 50s given their site back by these doctors. Yet, the Taliban for some reason fear them enough to kill them.

This is exactly the reason why I am a part of the International Guild of Visual Peacemakers. Our goal is to draws photographers from all cultures, ethnicity and beliefs and to help breakdown religious hate and cultural stereotypes and biases that divide us. We want to see the type of hate that killed these 10 people and so many others every day, destroyed and replaced with compassion and appreciation. Maybe this is too big a job and can never be done. Probably so. But it shouldn’t stop us from trying and at least making a positive mark on the world. I am thrilled that John Stanmeyer of VII was able to document Tom Little’s work before he was murdered. It needed to be told.

If you agree with me and feel this madness has to stop, please join me and support IGVP. If you are a photographer, consider joining and being apart of this important community. IGVP is days away from going live. Simply click this link HERE and sign up to be notified when the site is online and then you can be apart of something very important.

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About The Author

Matt Brandon

Matt is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by business and organizations around the globe. Matt also on the design board for Think Tank Photo, a camera bag manufacturer. In 2013 Matt founded the On Field Media Project to train the staff of non-profits to use appropriate technology to produce timely as well as quality images.


  1. foggodyssey

    I read about this to and am so sad for this happening. I hope people read this and know what happened and not forget those wonderful people who gave up their lives to help others. Maybe this will finally help the locals to backlash against the Taliban and rid them. Good article and I'm glad you wrote it!

  2. Karine Ardault

    It is a very sad, unfair and upsetting situation. I live in a country that is not at war but that is poor, Tanzania. I have seen population very happy and suporting some organizations providing them assistance though it is reality that at any time people working for these oragnizations or myself can be targeted some day for no reason other than the way I look, that I might not be of the right religion or just because I represent some source of income. It is not always easy to help others, to make some good. Though some people like Dr. Little exist. There are many of them who help others with or without the fear of loosing their life. I will never understand what pushes some human beings to kill other people for no reason. Making some good in this world sometimes disturb people with dark motives. It is a pity. That will not stop me and some others to do some good though by respect for people like Tom Little.

  3. mariomattei

    Thanks for writing this, Matt. It's a sad thing that's happened. I'm reminded again of the value in perceiving our trials and tragedies through visual story. It's how we learn, heal, and find meaning, which also helps us forgive those who've wronged us.

    This is an extreme case. But the shooters had such a fear and hate for the “foreigner,” “outsider,” the “other” that despite the great work done for humanity, they felt justice was executed in executing them. The danger lies at the worldview level.

    This is an extreme case, but it does all begin with attitudes and beliefs about the “other”–those different from us. IGVP is certainly aimed at counter-acting these harmful attitudes by displaying the dignity and beauty of people and our common humanity.

    I'm not too confident that a strong visual peacemaking documentary would calm the Taliban… However, for the millions of more sublte attitudes of fear and misunderstanding for the “other”, visual peacemaking has potential to instill cultural-socio-religious appreciation at the worldview level. This can prevent or ease prejudice, fear, racism, and a slew of other things that deteriorate social harmony.

    This tragic event calls for us to be reminded that most Muslims in the world abhor the Taliban. It is a time for anyone on the borderline of crossing into extremism to be reminded of their common humanity with Christians. I think many Visual Peacemakers will aim to make a difference in these categories in the coming years. I know this one will.

  4. sbreslin

    Senseless murders in the name of religion aren't going to help anybody. Ever.

  5. Tonya

    Thanks so much for the post, and for using your voice to get the word out. I believe these people had peace even in their death, since their lives had been so selflessly lived for others. May we all work hard to make this world the kind of place they were striving for, no matter what the cost. IGVP looks like another worthy effort to make that happen.

  6. Custom Writing Essays

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  1. Visual Peacemaking | Taiwan Travel Photographers | Craig Ferguson Images - [...] a week ago, Matt Brandon wrote a post entitled “Tom Little, IGVP And The Need For Peace”. In it…

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