A couple of years ago I was asked by Bicycling Magazine to photograph Charles Opiro, a former child soldier from Uganda. He was only 21 and really not that far removed from those experiences. He was captured and forced to be a soldier at age 10 and escaped 6 years later. I won’t go into all the details of his story here, but I don’t know how someone comes back from an experience like that. Charles was so sweet and genuine and thankful. Through Unicef, he eventually made his way to New Hampshire to live with a host family. He got into cycling and started riding with a local cycling team. This is what the story was supposed to be about, however the story never got written and the photos never used, sadly. I’ve been sitting on them until now. When I met Charles, he told me his bike had just been stolen. He was working on his GED and working at Fedex at night at the time and had no money for a new bike. I’m an avid biker and have a good friend who works for a major European bicycle company so I approached him with the idea getting a bike donated to Charles so he could race again. He said he could get a frame and with donations we were able build a beautiful bike for Charles which my wife and I delivered to him about a year later. He was so excited and couldn’t have been more thankful. We still keep in touch today.

3 months ago - 7 notes

  1. jleedsphoto posted this