Pulse October 2015 - Page 37

“There are two things I want to do before I die: Provide access to clean water and give people a charity they can believe in.” When he started to apply for volunteer work in humanitarian organizations, every single one turned him down. “They have no interest in taking on a nightclub promoter to their mission,” he says. Finally, he heard from one organization called Mercy Ships, an international hospital ship that provides lifesaving surgeries to people without access to medical care. “They called me and said, ‘If you’re willing to pay us US$500 a month, you can volunteer with us.” He boarded Mercy Ships with 300 volunteers and headed for Africa. 4. He loves telling stories through his lens. With his passion to tell stories through photography, he volunteered to document Mercy Ships’ work through his lens. Although he was ready to share each patient’s story, he realized he wasn’t emotionally prepared for what he was about to see. At the time, Mercy Ships can only provide 1,500 medical surgeries, but close to 7,000 people with medical conditions showed up in the stadium. “Knowing that more than 5,000 people will be turned away was really hard,” he says. Then he saw the first person in line—a boy named Alfred with a giant tumor on his face. “I just remembered looking at his eyes, and I was terrified,” he says. “I ran into the corner of the stadium—I lost it.” Despite the initial shock, he soon realized how transformative it is to see patients embraced back into their community after the surgery. “It was a really unique position to be the photographer and see unimaginable suffering, and then see hope brought by these doctors and volunteers who have served,” he says. 5. On his second Mercy Ships trip as a volunteer, he learned of the immensity of the global water crisis and was moved to do something about it. Harrison’s second tour with Mercy Ships brought him to Liberia, a country torn by poverty and civil war for many years. It was during this trip that he met an engineer volunteer from Colorado who dug up wells for rural communities and showed him the immensely dirty water sources from where people drink. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing and hearing about the lack of clean