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Top 10 Photos of 2023

As World Relief’s Graphic Design Manager, a favorite part of my job is getting to work with photos from all across the organization. I get glimpses of life with World Relief all around the world — from the staffer documenting a relief program on her smartphone in Malawi, to the multimedia agency in Rwanda crafting videos of agriculture work, to the drone photographer in Illinois capturing the start of a 5K run.

Sometimes, photos are readily available and easy to use. In other cases, our teammates don’t have the time or access to gather images, or the sensitivity of the situation limits photography. World Relief works in some difficult-to-reach places, with barriers like floodwaters and conflict zones standing in the way. For all the photos we do receive, I am grateful.

As this new year starts off, here are a few moments I want to highlight from the last — the top 10 pictures from 2023.

1. Malawi — Responding to Cyclone Freddy

Photo by Yamikani Mawaya

Cyclone Freddy hit the southern region of Malawi in February, displacing more than 650,000 people. World Relief assisted those impacted by providing food and non-food relief, psychosocial support and more. In 2023, food and other essential supplies were distributed to more than 400 households affected by Cyclone Freddy and a cholera outbreak in Malawi. I love this woman’s infectious grin. With her gaze pointing off-camera, in the middle of hoisting a bag of supplies to her head, this photo breathes spontaneous energy.

2. Western Washington — Equipping Churches for Lasting Change

Photo by Logan Weber

In May, Bethany Community Church in Seattle welcomed four members of the World Relief Rwanda team: Pascasie Nsanzabozwa, Clemence Nkulikiyinka, Emily Kankindi and Jacqueline Mukashma. They taught about World Relief’s Church Empowerment Zones (CEZs), sharing the example of CEZs in Rwanda as a roadmap to lasting community impact for churches in the U.S.

3. Western Washington — The World Relief Cup

Photo by Jessica Uhler

On a drizzly morning in June, around 120 athletes, with their friends and supporting community, came together for the World Relief Cup, an inaugural soccer tournament to celebrate World Refugee Month. Eleven teams participated from community leagues and local resettlement agencies, including Team World Relief. 

4. Cambodia — Gathering Church Network Committees

Photo by Samedy Uy

Over 70 people, including Church Network Committee members from five provinces — church leaders engaged in World Relief program work — and World Relief staff, met at an annual gathering in Phnom Penh this fall. The event was designed to share and celebrate all God is doing through his church, the Khmer church. It can be hard to get engaging photos of events with large groups of seated people, but here, the photographer created a moment of human connection. Three people are glancing sideways into the camera, drawing the viewer in with their warmth.

5. Memphis — Welcoming Little Amal

Photo by Kara Spencer

In October, World Relief Memphis participated in an event to welcome Little Amal, a 12-foot puppet of a Syrian refugee child. Designed to reflect the experiences of refugee children, Little Amal has traveled through 15 countries since 2021. At this event, World Relief Memphis shared about the refugee community in their city.

6. Quad Cities — Running Free

Photo by Zachary Gray

World Relief Quad Cities hosted their inaugural Running Free 5K race in October. Runners participated to support their work providing vital services for refugee families and other immigrants. That month alone, Quad Cities welcomed 38 individuals, a portion of whom are being resettled through their new office in neighboring Scott County, Iowa.

7. Rwanda — Agriculture for Life

Photo by Jean Paul Niyitanga

World Relief Rwanda is committed to rural women. Through programs like Agriculture for Life, women in rural communities build skills, strengthen their finances and secure firmer footing for their families on the road to thriving. When women are uplifted, the positive effects ripple out to uplift entire communities.

8. Tri-Cities — Home Visit

Photo by Sean Sheridan

A mother and child received a visit from a caseworker in their new home in central Washington. This family was resettled by World Relief Tri-Cities. From October 2022 to September 2023, World Relief welcomed 7,351 refugee arrivals across the U.S. This photo shows my sentimental side — I couldn’t say no to little baby hands!

9. SoCal — Partnering Across Borders

Photo by Emily Frazier

Maria Galletas, or Doña Maria, is a source of welcome and support for migrants on the Tijuana side of the U.S.–Mexico border. Her organization, Madres y Familias Deportadas en Acción, provides food, clothing, English and Spanish classes and jobs to individuals on their journey to the U.S. World Relief Southern California first met Maria in 2018 and has been supporting her work for the last two years.

10. Spokane — Textile Arts & Entrepreneurship

Photo by Sean Sheridan

A woman works on a sewing machine in the Textile Arts & Entrepreneurship class at World Relief Spokane’s Education Services Center. The class is designed to be a safe place for female clients to interact with other women while gaining sewing skills. In addition, class participants learn how to start a cottage business and contribute to household income. I love this photo’s simple color palette and shallow depth of field — the woman’s face in focus with the background and foreground softening into blur.

At World Relief, we know you long to see lives transformed. In this season of hope, Jesus drew near to us so that we could draw near to others in their greatest season of need. 

Will you be part of bringing lasting change to communities around the world today, tomorrow and for generations to come?

Joann Oh joined World Relief’s Marketing team in 2021. She’s a graphic designer and occasional comic artist.

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