Photographer Swinde Wiederhold finds a silver lining in the aftermath of a hijacking in Bangladesh
On her very last day in Dhaka, while European photographer Swinde Wiederhold was on her way back home, a man, from a car that was passing her rickshaw, snatched her backpack, which contained her laptop, camera and hard drives. After this incident, Swinde did what any millennial would do – she took to the internet to share her story.
“Monsoon clouds are building up in the sky and soon there will be a powerful downpour. Today it rained heavily on myself. Not from the sky. But from an incident which happened this morning when I took a rickshaw home. While sitting on the back seat a white combi car passed by and from the backseat window a man grabbed my backpack which I was holding around my arm. Inside my laptop, my camera and both of my hard drives. I don’t know if those people have a clue as to what they just did. How shall I go back home now and tell my friends and family how nice Bangladesh is and how friendly the people are and how easy it is to travel? This robbery will place a dark cloud over my entire experience here in Bangladesh.” — read a part of her post on Instagram.
What the photographer did not expect was the huge outpouring of compassion and support from people all over Bangladesh, expressing their shame and regret about the incident.
Posts like—“We couldn't provide you the security you deserved, we have no words to justify what happened to you, please forgive us” and “We are sorry!” flooded the comments section of the picture on Instagram within the span of just a few hours.
“My photographs give me the opportunity to share my experiences and feelings with my audience – I feel it’s my calling and way to have an impact on the world,” said Swinde, who started studying photo journalism and documentary photography in Hannover, Germany. Since January until June 2018, she studied abroad for one term in Dhaka, Bangladesh, at Pathshala South Asian Media Institute.
Apart from the fact that she had to experience what she did, and it has undoubtedly been a bitter experience, Swinde could not help but appreciate how supportive the people of Bangladesh have been towards her after getting to know about the robbery.
“Since I have been back in Germany, I've been receiving phone calls and messages from Bengali people living in Bangladesh and also Bengali people living in my own country. I would have never thought that my incident would be something local people would care so much about, as they are used to it in their everyday lives,” she said. “I really appreciate all the support and kind words towards myself. I'm slowly recovering from the most awful and haunting memory in my life so far.”
Although Swinde lost her belongings, she didn't lose the precious memories that she made during her entire trip. She's also aware that this is an incident which can happen anywhere in the world, and not only in Bangladesh. “As I have been a traveller for many years, I know that the world has beautiful people. For now, I'm only disappointed in human beings,” she expressed.
Swinde also went on to say that she had a great experience during the five months that she spent here, studying photography at Pathshala, travelling to: Bogra, Khulna, Barisal, Kuakata, Chittagong and Cox's Bazar— and exploring the rich cultural diversity of Bangladesh.
“I want to thank the people of Bangladesh, who helped me during my stay by being friendly, open minded and welcoming to me at all times,” said the photographer. “I'm still hopeful and believe that the people who stole my things will come to a clear mind and return my belongings. Thank you, Bangladesh for being great to me and I hope to come back as soon as my time allows it. Take care.”