Ordinary Heroes

Tracing history across nations, it becomes clear that virtually any people can become a victim or perpetrator of genocide.

Thankfully, a careful reading of history reveals that the impulse to help those in need is also shared by individuals across boundaries of culture and topography. Like The Rescuers exhibit, Ordinary Heroes shares the testimony of seemingly unremarkable individuals who stood up in the face of violence, and shows its participants that everyone can be an agent of social change and an “upstander” in their everyday life.

PROOF and its partner, the Post Conflict Research Center, used The Rescuers exhibit as the foundation to create Ordinary Heroes, a new multimedia education project that promotes intercultural understanding and encourages its audiences to become upstanders. Ordinary Heroes is a multifaceted project, which expands upon the original Rescuers exhibit with “Heroes in Training” youth workshops, a documentary series, and Srdan Aleksic Youth Competition.

Ordinary Heroes was awarded first prize by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the BMW Group in August 2014 in Bali, in recognition of the project’s efforts to promote intercultural dialogue, understanding, and cooperation.

Four photographers captured the images for the Rescuers project: in Rwanda, Riccardo Gangale (Rome); in Central Europe, Sonia Folkmann (Poland); in Cambodia, Nicolas Axelrod (Australia); and in Bosnia, Paul Lowe (England) and Mirko Pincelli (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

The exhibit has traveled throughout the Balkan region to 13 different towns and cities.



15-30 Aug 2013
Trebinje, Bosnia & Herzegovina

30 July-15 Aug 2013
Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina

15-30 July 2013
Siroki Brijeg, Bosnia & Herzegovina

30 June-15 July 2013
Srebrenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina

15-30 June 2013
Bijeljina, Bosnia & Herzegovina

1-15 June 2013
Brcko, Bosnia & Herzegovina

I was helping everyone no matter which religious or ethnic group they belonged to. I was helping Croats, Bosniaks (Muslims) and Serbs who came to my church in Banja Luka. Help had a different form. Sanctuary not only included a safe place, but also clothing, food, and spiritual guidance, all of which I tried to provide. During this period of madness, words of hope and kindness were as necessary as material assistance.
— Franjo Konarica

Hire the exhibition

Ordinary Heroes, which also travels under the title, The Rescuers, is available for hire.

The exhibit comes as plexiglass panels or as large-scale, stand-alone boxes.

To obtain additional information about hiring the exhibit, to receive the full specifications, or to speak to us about arranging accompanying education programs, contact us today.   

Read some of the rescuers' testimonies by clicking on the book below (in English and Khmer). 


About the Photographers

Riccardo Gangale | Rwanda
Riccardo Gangale was born in Rome in 1975. After completing scientific studies and two years of political science, he joined a three-year master course in professional photography in Rome. In 2002 while still studying, Riccardo traveled to Ethiopia to work for Food for the Citiesprogram of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. In the fall of 2002, he worked in South Africa for a project on landless people as well as with the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Since September 2003, Riccardo has been working for the Associated Press as a correspondent in the Great Lakes region of Africa and has been living in Kigali, Rwanda, ever since. The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Times, The Guardian, The Guardian Weekly, Liberation, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, The Washington Post, and others have published some of his works.


Paul Lowe | Bosnia and Herzegovina

Paul Lowe is a senior lecturer in photography at the University of the Arts London and an award-winning photographer living and working between Sarajevo and London. His work is represented by Panos Pictures and has appeared in Time, Newsweek, Life, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Observer, and The Independent among others. He has covered news from all over the world, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, Nelson Mandela’s release, the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, and the destruction of Grozny.

Since 2004, Paul has been the course leader of the Masters Programme in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication. His book, "Bosnians," documenting 10 years of the war and post-war situation in Bosnia, was published in April 2005.


Sonia Folkmann | Holocaust
Sonia Folkmann was born in Poland in 1975, and at the age of 13, she and her family moved to Düsseldorf, Germany. After she completed a one-year internship at a photographic studio, she fell so deeply in love with the art of photography that she decided to get a professional education in photography. After graduating from art school as the top student, she worked several years with different photographers all over the world.

Since 2006, Sonia has been working as a freelance photographer and pursues her own projects, including fine art series, reportage, and design books. In 2009 and 2010, she won, in collaboration with New Cat Orange Agency, the Red Dot Design Award in the category Best of the Best. Her love of photography gives her the chance to live her dream.


Nicolas Axelrod | Cambodia
Nicolas Axelrod has been based in South East Asia since 2008. An Australian, he moved to Cambodia after living and working in Perth, Western Australia, as a freelance photographer as well as for a Perth-based commercial photography agency. Now living in Phnom Penh, he works as a freelance photographer. He has also worked for various NGOs, local and international magazines, and private clients in Cambodia.