Alissa first traveled to eastern Chad in 2006, prepared with news reports of genocide and black and white photographs, expecting the worst.
Darfur had fallen out of the news while media focused on the war in Iraq. She believed the story of the conflict escalating, pouring across the border into Chad, would bring it back into focus. In eastern Chad, she found the reality quite different, a dire humanitarian situation with several hundred thousand refugees, but not a conflict pushing international borders.
At that point, she decided to abandon work as a news photographer and to create a portrait series, focusing on the Darfuri people, their dignity and hope despite their horrific stories. She spent six weeks in refugee camps with the assistance of many international NGOs with whose work she then became familiar.
Upon return to the US, Alissa created an exhibition of her work as a dedication to the Darfuri people and a fundraiser for the World Food Program’s food aid to the camps where she worked. The work drew the attention of a group of women in San Francisco who had wanted to get involved in Darfur but didn’t know how, and Exposing Hope was founded.
In 2007 and 2008, Exposing Hope concentrated its effort on Darfur. We held photography exhibitions in San Francisco, LA and New York to raise awareness and funds for both hunger relief for refugees and school feeding programs.
Alissa’s photography from Darfur was exhibited in San Francisco and Los Angeles, at LeftSpace Studios, the Farmani Gallery, Grace Cathedral, Temple el-Emanuel and Frisson Restaurant. It became the inspiration for a design project and fundraising auction for FIDM and was published in Marin Magazine in 2007.
Through print sales and donations, Exposing Hope raised over $20,000 to provide essential food aid for refugees in the camps where Alissa had photographed.