by HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA
The underlying theme of this book is human dignity. Every member of the human family has an equal and inalienable right to liberty, not just in terms of political freedom, but also at the fundamental level of freedom from fear and want. Sadly, today, despite all the reports of movement towards greater freedom and democracy in many parts of the world, the number of genuine refugees is, if anything, increasing. Individuals and groups on nearly every continent are daily fleeing their homes in fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, social identity or political opinion. Others are fleeing merely in search of food and shelter.
In this book of photographs Daniel Cheng Yang has documented people who, fleeing violence in their own lands, have sought the protection of the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwest Kenya. At the same time, his eye has also been caught by the indigenous people of the region still pursuing their ages old way of life against great odds.
As a Tibetan who has spent the best part of my life in exile, I recognize the trouble these people face. As a refugee there is an ever-present sense of insecurity, for even though you may be relatively free you do not live in your own land. It is immensely difficult to cope with the loss of rights and abilities that most of us simply take for granted.
Although Daniel Cheng Yang is still very young I am impressed by the maturity he has shown not only in recognizing these peoples' plights, but also in identifying a way he can help them by simply documenting their experience and publishing it in this book. I am always especially encouraged when I come across such kindness and warm-heartedness towards others in one so young. I feel it bodes well for humanity's future, making me confident that this new century will see a more friendly, more caring and more understanding human family evolving on this planet.
The Dalai Lama
10 March 2002
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