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Smile is a long journey by Stefano Giulio Pavesi

For most of us, in terms of a physical act, smiling is easy even when the circumstances are hard. But for many children in this world, it takes luck, other's compassion and generosity. It is a long journey. The Italian photojournalist Stefano Giulio Pavesi has met some of those children, witnessed their journey to Smile, and showed us the most heart-warming moments.


by Stefano Giulio Pavesi

In 1998 Stefano had the great opportunity to spend two months and a half photographing medical missions of an American NGO named „Operation Smile“. The aim of the founders, William Magee Jr and his wife Kathleen, was to provide surgeries for those born with cleft lip and cleft palate. Cleft lip and cleft palate are direct consequences of very poor life’s conditions, scarce access to regular food and medical aids. Depending on the type and severity, a cleft can create serious health issues. Children can have difficulty with feeding; ear infections can occur, dental development can be affected. Speech and language development can also be impaired. Children may also suffer from bullying and social isolation.

Embedded to a high specialistic and experienced team Stefano Giulio Pavesi visited medical missions in Honduras, Nicaragua, Brazil, Bolivia, Panama, Morocco, Kenia, Palestine, Jordan, Romania, China, Philippines, Vietnam. Every time it was for Stefano a strong emotional impact to see all the crowds of parents and sons and daughters patiently and joyfully waiting for free surgery that would have changed in better their lives. How many tears of happiness and hope he witnessed so far.

Stefano also witnessed goodness, empathy and compassion from the volunteered doctors. They take holidays in their countries in order to be able to reach medical missions and to do what in their communities they are paid for. And it takes empathy and compassion from Stefano too to convey the authenticity of love and smiles in the photos, so that their warmness reaches our hearts.
"Humanity, compassion, devotion, the spirit of sacrifice, love for the others accompanied me for the whole journey and enrich me of an extraordinary experience. I always remember that time with emotion and a deep sense of gratitude. I am lucky for having done this reportage" - said Stefano. For him, it was also a long journey, finding the truest smile.

Stefano G. Pavesi started to focus on social reportage in 1994. He has traveled all around the world, from big cities to micro domestic realities, photographing famous faces and unknown eyes full of stories. He works on personal projects searching for new ways to observe the world. He loves life, his family and his work.

The project ‘Suburbs’ won the Canon Prize for the best projects in 1999. His images have been shown at collective exhibitions like ‘Primavisione 2011 (Firstvision)’ organized by National Iconographic Redactor Group (GRIN) and ‘volti nuovi’ (2011) organized by weekly magazine ‘Internazionale’. In 2015, his personal itinerant exhibition ‘le periferie al centro (Suburbs in the middle)’, travel with the Italian and European tour of Carovana Internazionale Antimafie, an association supporting legality and social justice.

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Stefano Giulio Pavesi

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