The discovery of oil reserves nearly two decades ago in the Sub-Saharan nation of Equatorial Guinea has incited an explosion of commercial business development into its cities, including the capital of Malabo. But despite this recent growth, the country has been plagued with deeply disturbing allegations, not least of which are purported human rights violations and government corruption. The unemployment rate – a conservative estimate of 22% – devastates the young adult population and, according to the World Bank, more than 75% of the country lives in poverty.

Yet, in the center of Malabo on a tiny street sits Orfanato Nuestra Señora de la Almudena (Our Lady of Almudena Orphanage). Founded in 1909 and supported by an adjacent church, this orphanage and school serves as a home for more than 70 children. Behind the tall, iron fence and concrete walls lives a dignified community of children, nuns, and caretakers who laugh and speak with both an endearing detachment from the surrounding disparities, as well as a simple yearning for a worthwhile future. Here, in black and white, is an illustration of hope in this tiny African nation.

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