Photojournalist Mariella Furrer

Welcome to the Mariella Furrer Page at Pathogen Perspectives! You are probably wondering why I even have such a page. well, let me explain. While searching for photos of the 1995 Kikwit Ebola outbreak I came across Mariella's website. She was in Kikwit during the outbreak and took some powerful photos. Wanting badly to use one for a post, but expecting not to hear back from her, I emailed her and asked if I could use one. She responded!! In fact she not only emailed me back, she said she would be happy to let me use a photo and that she appreciated my efforts here at this blog. Wow!

Well, as I explored Mariella's website further I realized that she was more than a simple photojournalist, she was an activist spending her remarkable career championing causes that most find too difficult to stomach. She is a hero and I want to share her work with you. In addition to documenting some of the worst human rights injustices such as the Rwandan Genocide, and female genital mutilation in Kenya, Mariella has been fighting tirelessly for over a decade to expose horrific child sex abuse in South Africa. She published My Piece of Sky, a book that documents this journey and is available for purchase here. She describes what this journey was like in a riveting piece by David Rosenberg published earlier this year at Slate

So to Mariella, I am honored to be able to use your photos on my blog. Thank you, and thank you for continuing to work on behalf of those who otherwise may not be heard.



Mariella's photos can be found on the following posts:
Ebola PPE
Ebola Convalescent Serum

From Mariella's website this is her bio:

Mariella Furrer, Swiss/Lebanese, was born in Beirut and has lived in Africa her whole life. She attended the Documentary Photography & Photojournalism Program at the International Centre of Photography in NYC, and has since been working as a freelance photojournalist based between Kenya and South Africa. She has covered Africa extensively and has worked on stories in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Her photography has appeared in various books around the world and her work on the Rwandan Genocide is on permanent display at the Memoria y Tolerancia Museum in Mexico City.
Mariella can communicate in several languages- English, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic & Swahili.

2011 - Amnesty International Media Award , UK - Magazine-
2011 - 7punt7 Award, Spain
2010 - Anthropographia Award for Photography & Human Rights, Canada – Shortlisted.
2007 - Sante Fe Prize for Photography, USA – Nominated
2006 - UNICEF Photo of the Year, Germany – Honorable Mention
2005 - 3P (Photographers for Photography) Foundation, France – Grant
2003 - Hasselblad Foundation, Sweden – Grant
1993 - Eddie Adams Workshop- Eastman Kodak USA -Most Promising Young Photojournalist Award.

2011 -  Siemens - COP 17, Durban, South Africa
2010 - Anthropographia Award for Photography & Human Rights, Canada – travelling exhibition
2006 - Visa Pour L’Image - Perpignan France - Projection of Child Sexual Abuse project
2001 - Day in the Life of Africa (Group Show-travelling exhibition)
2001 - “The Condition of Women in Africa”, Museo Popoli e Culture del Pime, Milan, Italy
1994 - Visa pour L’Image, Perpignan, France - Group Projection of work on Rwandan Genocide
Mariella has been published in various books around the world and her work on the Rwandan Genocide is on permanent display at the Memoria y Tolerancia Museum in Mexico City.

Sunday Times Magazine of London
Time Magazine
Life Magazine
New York Times
Chicago Tribune
Outside Magazine
Talk Magazine
Paris Match
Sports Illustrated
Der Spiegel
Marie Claire

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
MSF (Doctors Without Borders)
Cluster Bomb Munitions (CMC)
Norwegian People's Aid (NPA)

Hewlett Packard - USA
Siemens - International
Nestle - Switzlerland
Sandoz - Germany
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Ogilvy & Mather, NYC
72 & Sunny, LA
Brand(X) Communications, London

Esterson Associates, London


  1. Thank you so much!!! I love your blog :)

    1. My pleasure! It's an honor to be able to share your photos here. Thank you!!!! :)

  2. Thanks for the blog, BTW. I think you are going to be performing a very useful service in the coming months, as you have the knowledge to identify where the mass media are getting the story wrong.

    Have you heard how the original failure in containment occurred? Was MSF in Guinea not tracking contacts completely - if it truly is limited to those that touch body fluids after the fever has set in, one would think it was limited to intimate friends or family and the numbers would not be that great (and that the exposed individuals would understand the danger they were in and would be motivated to cooperate) - so how did the breakdown occur when the numbers were still small enough to be manageable? Especially as MSF had a long-term presence in both Guinea and Liberia with hundreds of staff that understood the languages and practices (as the bulk of the staff is recruited locally), one would think they could stay on top of the outbreak if anyone could?

    1. Thanks for the kind words! It's been said by Joseph Fair, a man who has been there, is there now and knows what he's talking about, that they missed a few contacts in Guinea...that's all. They took it farther. I think your assessment is accurate. It could have been manageable, but I think those few contacts were missed before anyone knew they needed to be found. It's an easy thing to miss in the beginning before you realize what's happening.

  3. Following your lead I found a very good Washington Post article on Fair and his involvement with this epidemic. He states that at one point - in mid-May, after a total of 260 survivors - they WHO was about to declare the epidemic defeated, as nearly two incubation periods had elapsed without any new cases. And then suddenly it reappears, apparently in multiple locations.

    This sounds like a mystery in need of a solution if it is not to recur again and again. He implies that during this first phase they were funded and staffed adequately, and there were no deficiencies in the contact-tracing/surveillance protocol that he was aware of (of course this is journalism, so sometimes things are left out to create drama and interest). Since there weren't that many active infections at the time it reappeared - how could there be, if they had thought it was wiped out? - they should be able to trace back that first batch of new Ebola cases and determine who had dropped the ball.

    Fair also says that on his return visit, within weeks they were already out of funds and did not have enough money for phone cards and gasoline to do the necessary field work in contact tracing. Had their funding source changed? Why would it apparently be obvious that you needed to fully fund a multi-nation effort in May, but after a few weeks when you realize the original protocol wasn't working you not only don't ramp up the funding, but apparently cut it back? Was this MFS's decision? The government of Sierra Leone? If the government lacked resources or the necessary sense of reality, it is the NGO's duty to step in as they have done so many times before.

    This was a situation where the pending catastrophe was visible to all the NGOs and governments - why was the decision made to not fund Fair adequately in Sierra Leone (and possibly also not fund the efforts in Guinea and Liberia sufficiently)? How could you justify saving a few million today when you know the problem will be ten times worse in a few months time and require even more resources?

  4. And, unlike the rest of us, you know people who know answers.

    I hope you write something on what they were thinking when they made the fatal resource allocation mistakes. You seem to be focussed on more technical issues, but it is failure on a policy level that has done us in (and might continue to do so, though the rhetoric is changing).

    1. While I share your frustration, I doubt I will do a post on that topic. I have a feeling those involved will carry this burden for a very long time both personally and professionally, even without my help.