In 2003, while driving across the United States, I stopped at a gas station in Mesa, Arizona and met Rana Sodhi, a Sikh whose brother was shot down in a hate crime in front of their family-owned gas station 4 days after 9/11. In 2002, Rana’s second brother was driving his taxi in San Francisco and was shot to death.
Rana’s response to these violent acts against his brothers was a refusal to hole up and live in fear. Rana said, “It is important for me to get out of my house and meet my neighbors.” By reaching out to those who might not otherwise know him, he hoped to reduce the danger to himself, his family and his community.
Driving later that night, inspired by Rana’s simple prescription to make the world safe by getting to know neighbors better, I was struck by the idea to photograph a child from every country on earth and find them all living in New York City.
In September of 2011, Rana was a guest of mine in New York City to attend the opening of an NYChildren exhibition at the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. With media cameras rolling and flashing, Rana cut the ceremonial red ribbon to open the show that his good will inspired.