In 1980, Mike Wells took a powerful photograph of a Catholic missionary holding the hand of a hungry Ugandan boy. In many ways, it’s almost like the hand isn’t human. It is almost the hand of a space alien, another species, or anything but a human hand. Unfortunately, this is the human hand. Hungry man!

Freelance photojournalist Mike Wells explained to the Holland Herald in an interview after winning the World Press Photo of the Year award that he was in Africa in 1980 working for Save the Children in the United Kingdom covering their polio campaign and in Swaziland and Malavia. . Wells photographed this image during a trip to Uganda, to the seminary where the Fathers of Verona distributed food in the early days of the famine. One of the monks described the situation to Wells and told him that the Karamojong boy was about four years old.

Food shortages in Karamokha began in July 1978, following a drought, crop failure and plant disease. Not being a region of great economic or political importance to the government of Uganda, the administration of President Idi Amin took no action after being alerted to the situation this year. After the overthrow of Amin and the flight of his soldiers in 1979, the Karamojong warriors acquired a large amount of weapons and ammunition. The influx of firearms dramatically changed the regional balances of power and cultural traditions around the raids. It was dangerous to move in and out of Karamojong with cattle or grain.

In addition, national insecurities led to a complete breakdown of trade. In the early 1980s, food shortages began in the family. The situation became critical in May, and the famine reached its peak in July and August of that year. In July, the Verona Fathers in Karamojong turned to the World Food Program in Rome for urgent help. Catholic missionary activity began in the region in 1933, when the Catholic Church provided famine relief from the 1960s.

Photographer Mike Wells, who later won the World Photo Award for this photo, admitted that he was embarrassed to shoot. He was embarrassed as he had never entered the competition himself and was against winning and prize-winning photographs of people starving to death.