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Siem Rep

Michael Kors 'Watch Hunger Stop' Campaign

Siem Rep, Cambodia

Kate Hudson visits remote villages in Northern Cambodia

Working with children and celebrities..

To quote WC Fields, who protested that he would never work with children and animals, we found on this assignment with the Hollywood actress Kate Hudson for a New York based fashion house's project 'Watch Hunger Stop', that both our celebrity and the children were a dream to be with despite a punishing schedule with long hours working in the humidity and heat of the Cambodian rainforest interior. We would be highlighting a campaign to bring sustainable food projects to children through village cooperation and local schools, combining getting a decent meal with supporting education.

But like so many 'Fleet Street' press photographers in my past on The Times, I'd been assigned to photographing the 'great and the good' as part of day to day work. Now and again back then we were working without the celebrities' co-operation, often they and or their minders were actively trying to prevent us from getting the pictures we had hope to capture. This was so different. Kate was deeply moved by what she saw, and spent hours longer than the carefully worked out schedule to get to know the schools and the children better

We were clearly working together with a consumate professional who was very personally committed to the cause. Even the local World Food Programme (WFP) hosts were impressed.  It was to be a very different experience from those stars of stage and screen who posed with a pretty child for a picture and only to rapidly flit back into the air conditioned Land Cruisers to head back for their luxury hotel suite. We spent the next five days in and around jungle villages that struggled to feed their communities, it was a cruel twist of irony that we often we found ourselves barely a short trike ride away from globally celebrated Angkor Wat where wealthy tourists from all over the world flocked to see and photograph the vast 12th century hindu temple complex.

The New York based fashion house Michael Kors together with the WFP were launching their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) campaign with planned and sustainable food resources rather than simple handouts of sacks of grain, helping to ensure that all school age children got breakfast as they arrived at school, and a midday meal before they went home. The project didn't just benefit schools and the children's attendance and education, it benefited the whole community: Fields were flooded and lined to make pools to grow stocks of fish, other land ploughed and seeds resourced for farmers to grow their own crops, with the local villagers having a ready market in supplying the food to the schools, and a number coming in to prepare the meals for the children.