On the rare occasion That I get time to steal a moment of my life for my own, I like to grab my camera, pick a location and go. This time it was Washington D.C., and as far as those of you who follow me, you know I live nearby. On such excursions I try not to plan anything as I just like grab some shots of things I that appeal to me as I go. As far as D.C. is concerned however, stopping at the White House is always a given. This is simply because there is always someone or some group in front with signs, and/or bullhorns. Some are vocal, some are silent. On this day there were a group of Palestinian protesters and a lone muslim man with a hand written manifesto on the back of his t-shirt. The Palestinians were waiving flags behind a huge banner playing very loud music, while the lone man remained silent performing some sort of what looked to be a religious ritual oblivious to all of the tourists and other onlookers who either watched in disbelief, or waited for their turn to get their picture taken in front of the White House.
While weaving in and out of the crowd of tourists and police, I managed to get a few shots in of the protesters. I was about to approach both parties to understand while they were there (something I always do), when I happened to turn around and see the woman in the photo above. She was at first only holding the sign in the middle of this shot, and for some reason, call it a temporary moment of dyslexia , I thought the sign read “Demand Kill Shelters”. Within a second or two, I quickly realized my error and start to approach her to discuss the reason why she was there. Before I could reach the woman, along comes a family who interjects to have their daughter’s photo taken with her. I noticed that the mother praised her for what she was doing and I also noticed how thankful and nice the woman was in response. After the family moved on, I asked the woman if she came here often and she told me that she comes out every saturday. I went on to introduce myself and ask for her name, to which she replied Reem Lajin.
Reem and I began to discuss her cause for the elimination of kill shelters in the U.S. Through our conversation I learned that approximately five million cats and dogs are killed each year in these kill shelters. The reasons are many: puppy mills, backyard breeding by uncertified breeders, and of course people who don’t spay or neuter their pets only to let them run off and well, you know the rest. Without getting into specifics, we also talked about the different types of cruelty to animals all over the world. I told her how Sheila and I have done our part in the past and present to rescue not just cats and dogs, but other animals too. I also told her how our friends and family do their part as well. We were speaking at great at lengths about these issues and other topics when Reem told me of her online petition at Change.org. I told her about this blog and that not only would I sign the petition, but I would encourage others to do the same. Mind you, not all shelters are run in the way that it states in the petition, but the cause is too eliminate kill shelters period.
At the end of the day, I realize that many if not most of the people I follow here and who follow me are great animal lovers. So is Reem. The thing that I liked about her was the fact that she wasn’t trying to rant aloud over the other protesters for a share of the spotlight. Nor did she try and have a one sided conversation to try and make the other party feel guilty for not seeing things the way she saw it. Instead, Reem just stood her ground in front of the White House, saying hello to people as they passed her and not much more. If one were to engage her, she would start an intelligent conversation with words that not only put you at ease, but let you know her passion and belief in her cause without trying to stuff so many facts in your head before you decide to just walk away. In fact with the family I spoke of earlier in this article, They simply read her signs, got their photo and left. And she thanked them without even trying to convince them to sign her petition. I am putting the link to this petition below this article for those who wish to sign it.
Canon 5D mark II, EF 85 1.2 L, ISO 160, 1/200 @ f/5.6