Fred Stockwell’s photographs tell stories of hope and pain.
The former Ashland resident will make his annual return to the Rogue Valley Oct. 4-14 to display more images of families who live in a dump on the Thai/Myanmar border, and to update supporters of his nonprofit Eyes to Burma organization.
Since 2008, Stockwell has dedicated his life and meager Social Security income to bringing medical care, water and education to 400 refugees fleeing the civil wars in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
The all-volunteer Eyes to Burma group directly aids men, women and children who struggle to support themselves by shifting through garbage in search of recyclable plastic.
Ashland resident Kara Lewis, who visited Stockwell in Mae Sot, Thailand, says he spends almost every day at the dump, where people have erected makeshift shelters.
In August, when there were record-breaking floods, he fed and housed the homeless in the Blue Sky School that he supports with donations he receives after his presentations, she says.
“Progress has been made every year that Fred has been helping this group, granting them access to health care, housing and a weekly food parcel program,” says Lewis.
Each October, volunteers with Stockwell’s one-man Peace Corps-like operation organize events in the Rogue Valley to announce the group's efforts and raise money for Eyes to Burma.
All monies go directly to help the refugees.
From 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4, there will be a free Meet & Greet photography exhibit
at the Ashland Art Center, 357 E. Main St., Ashland.
Concert organizer Barbara Goldfarb Seles and other volunteers say this celebration will honor Stockwell’s hard work and the generous support of the local community.
Tables and chairs will be set up on the grounds around the stage with a dance area in the center.
Dance instructor Clay Nelson will be teaching a swing lesson starting at 5:15 p.m., followed by performances by Band du Pays, which plays jazz classics, swing and blues.
Stockwell will speak at 6 p.m. and his photographs will be displayed and 8-inch-by10-inch prints will be given with a donation.
Coffee, tea and desserts donated by Shop 'n Kart, Ashland Food Co-op, Safeway and Albertsons will also be available.
On Sunday, Oct. 6, there will be a free slideshow presentation and Q&A with Stockwell from 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church’s Parish Hall, 44 N. 2nd St., Ashland.
Another free event takes place starting at 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 14, in which Stockwell will participate, as he did last year, in UN Week’s opening talk.
The event takes place at Southern Oregon University’s Rogue River Room in Stevenson Union, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.
At noon on Thursday, Oct. 17, Stockwell will be participating in a presentation and Q&A lunch ($12) at the First United Methodist Church’s Wesley Hall, 175 N. Main St., Ashland. To reserve a spot, contact Kerry Kencairn at 541-488-3194 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on Eyes to Burma is available at www.eyestoburma.org.
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