A collective of journalists based in Asia

A Year in Review 2017 – Ruom

26 Dec 2017

Another year has gone past, and it’s time to do an overview of what has happened for Ruom members over the past year.


Denise Hruby and Thomas Cristofoletti started the year with a story that looked at how China’s Taoist monks have become champions of conservation and environmental protection. The story was published on Sixth Tone, an English-language online magazine covering China, where Denise works as Head of Features, and on China Dialogue.

Nicolas Axelrod started his year in Singapore, where he is documenting the lives of two Indonesian domestic workers – Anandha and Tutik. The work is part of a long-term project on Indonesian domestic workers in Singapore – Dreaming Singapore

Abby Seiff started working as an editor for Devex, focusing on their Asia-Pacific coverage.

In February

After returning to Cambodia, Thomas, working with Erin Hale, filmed a drone video for The Atlantic’s Citylab looking at the infamous ‘shit canal’, an open sewer that runs through Cambodia’s capital.

Thomas also worked for Vinci – the society that manages the three Cambodian airports, where he photographed the airports of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

Back in Thailand, Nicolas went on to document elephant sanctuaries in the North of Thailand for World Animal Protection, an English animal welfare organisation.

In March

Nicolas worked with Four Paws alongside Amanda Mustard where he filmed animals receiving operations by a team of international veterinarians at a Thai government run animal rescue centre.

Denise and Thomas worked in China, producing several multimedia stories for Sixth Tone.

China’s Drug Addicts Call for Divine Intervention

Drug use is increasing in China, especially on the southern border, where the vast majority of heroin, opium and meth are trafficked from Myanmar. The state’s compulsory rehab centers, however, are run like labor camps, and so addicts in southern Yunnan are now turning to voluntary, faith-based rehab centers.

Bloodlines and Borderlines: War-Torn Kachin Find Refuge in China

They then travelled to the China-Myanmar border to report on the Kachin refugees who’ve walked across the border into Yunnan, hoping that they’d find some peace and stability.

On Shaky Ground

They finally hiked through the mountains of a remote area of Yunnan for six hours to see how mining has impacted a tiny community. Over the course of many interviews, they got a picture of how terrified the villagers are that their houses will one day collapse or be swallowed by a landslide – all because a mine has been digging for ever more coal in the mountain they live on.


Thanks to a Thomson Reuters Foundation grant, Abby spent a week on the Tonle Sap looking at how the lake is changing, part of an ongoing project with Nicolas and Areeya Tiva – Vanishing Lake – Canary in the Coal Mine

In April

Nicolas worked in Cambodia for Marie Stopes International who is working with women and families on birth control and family planning.

In May

Thomas worked in Ratanakiri in the North of Cambodia and in Laos – where he covered several stories for Anthony Bourdain’s Explore Parts Unknown,  The Southern China Morning Post Magazine, Marie Claire US, The Southeast Asia Globe and Destinasian.

Nicolas started a personal project documenting coastal ecosystems and coral bleaching, the first leg of the project took him to Bali

In June

Denise travelled to the US, where she took part in an environmental science reporting fellowship at the renowned Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachussetts. Wading through salt marshes and other wetlands, she traced the nitrogen cycle that destroys coastal systems that protect people against natural disasters. She was one of two international journalists who were awarded the Logan fellowship.

Thomas flew to the Dominican Republic for USAID to document the efforts of USAID and its local partners to eradicate the Zika virus and help the families who were victim of this terrible disease.

Nicolas followed a safety training course organised by ACOS Alliance, IWMF and FFR.

Marta’s production company Turren Films, which she co-founded with filmmaker Jeremiah Overman, began working on a 13-part series of behavioral change videos on maternal and child health for the Cambodian arm of the international non-profit People in Need. This was her first time working as a producer on such a big project, filmed in a studio, with an awesome crew and actors, including three very well-behaved babies. This project was completed in October 2017 and the videos will be published in early 2018.

In July

Thomas and Nicolas organized a multimedia exhibition called “Mekong – the giant in chains” at the MUSE (Museum of Science) in Trento (Italy). The exhibition included photos and videos shot together with maps, infographics and texts prepared by the team of the Water Grabbing project Emanuele Bompan, Marirosa Iannelli, Federica Frangipane and Riccardo Pravettoni.

Denise’s work as a journalist was rewarded with two prestigious, international awards by the Society of Publishers in Southeast Asia (SOPA).

In the category “Excellence in Features Writing, her account of villagers who dug a tunnel to connect their lives to the outside world won an honorable mention. From the judges: “A very unusual and well-told story that says so much, from the ground, about China’s development. Engaging writing elevates what could have been an ordinary story.” – Tunnel Vision: Villagers Dig Their Way Out of Isolation

In the category “Excellence in Environmental Reporting” Denise’s two-part series on the threats posed by desertificiation in China’s Xinjiang and Ningxia regions won an honorable mention. The stories were “well-written, well-reported frontline accounts of the desertification of China stood out as one of the two best.” – Adversaries to Allies: A Contentious History of Conservation

Marta Kasztelan together with American photographer Tara Todras-Whitehill and Cambodian journalist Khan Sokummono received a grant from the European Journalism Centre (ECJ) via its Innovation in Development Reporting Grant Programme to work on stories about sexual and reproductive health of teenagers and garment workers in Cambodia. The theme of the grant work drew on Marta’s earlier reporting on women’s issues in Cambodia, including the lack of access to safe abortion services among garment workers. Marta traveled to the northern province of Preah Vihear and Stung Treng to investigate child marriage and the recent uptick in teen pregnancies in some parts of Cambodia. She also further researched access to safe abortion services and family planning among Phnom Penh’s garment workers. 

Abby published a photo essay with Al Jazeera on how families cope with migration in Nepal – Economic migrants spark unlikely shifts in power

Nicolas worked with CNN’s Great Big Story documenting various projects in Singapore and Thailand. Check out Ruom’s vimeo page to see more – https://vimeo.com/ruom

Nicolas also worked in Bangladesh for Global Health Initiatives, where his video work was used for an overview of the organisation.

In August

Abby wrote and shot a feature for Devex on indigenous minorities’ brave battle against a $816 million dam inundating their sacred lands in Cambodia. – In Cambodia, holdouts fight a rising tide

Abby also made Pacific Standard Magazine‘s Field Notes section with a piece on toxic air pollution in Kathmandu – The Omnipresence of Dust in Kathmandu

Marta began working as the Cambodia Correspondent for the English arm of the Deutsche-Presse Agentur (German Press Agency). She has been mainly reporting on the countrywide crackdown by the government on opposition, non-governmental organizations and media in the lead up to 2018 elections.

Nicolas worked with Indochina Productions on an advertising campaign in Bangkok, documenting the daily life of Thai families and their relationship with ‘Home’. More details will be available once the campaign is publish.

Antoine worked for the Foundation Luma, taking pictures of Maartje Dros and Eric Klarenbeek in their bio-laboratory as they recreate ancient Roman era objects through 3D printing.

Nicolas also worked with The New York Times on a 360 video of the Tiffany’s Universe beauty pageant.

In September

Abby covered the mass closure of independent radio in Cambodia for Al Jazeera. – Switching off independent radio stations

Nicolas filmed an episode of National Geographic Explorer in Cambodia – the details of which will come out when the episode goes live next year.

Nicolas started a multi-country video for UNDP on Tsunami awareness which saw him travel to the Maldives, Samoa and Tonga over a two month period.

The Guardian published Marta’s article about the fearless Cambodian youtuber Catherine V. Harry, who continues to stir controversy by talking about periods, masturbation and asking whether women’s worth should be valued by their hymen. This was the first article about Catherine to appear in international media. 

In October

Thomas travelled to Uttarakhand – north east of India – where he spent 10 days trekking and shooting a feature for Travel & Leisure Asia. During the trip he documented the efforts of Village Ways, an organization that works directly with locals to conduct village-to-village walking holidays in the Kumaon region

Nicolas was in Thailand for the Funeral of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Marta travelled to Tokyo, Japan, together with Ruom’s videographer Thomas to interview a key subject in her long-term documentary film project, which explores the responsibility of non-state actors for rights violations committed away from their home state. That same month, she decided to put her human rights lawyering skills to work and began teaching International Human Rights Law at the Royal University of Law and Economics.

In November

Al Jazeera shorts published Marta’s documentary about a Polish filmmaker with Asperger’s syndrome, who is on a mission to change stereotypes about people with Autisms. Marta also worked as the assistant director on Adda Angel’s music video, which was produced by Turren Films and by A/3 Productions. The same month, Elle UK published a photo essay by Tara Todras-Whitehill with Marta’s text, exploring the different experiences of Cambodian teenagers living in very rural areas as compared to their counterparts in the capital city of Phnom Penh – From Shacks To Skateboarding: Cambodia’s Teens, A Contrast Of Extremes

When Donald Trump met Chinese President Xi Jinping this year, Denise took a look at the high expectations of the new US president’s first state visit to China for Al Jazeera – Donald Trump to talk trade and N Korea on China visit

Nicolas travelled to the UAE where he filmed a short advertising video for Marriott Rewards for the launch of a newly opened hotel in Dubai

Antoine and Nicolas worked for Transform Aid – an Australian based organisation that works in poverty reduction through training and education. 

In December

Nicolas is continuing his street photography series on Bangkok, you can see an updated slideshow on Ruom’s Photoshelter.

Thomas started a new project in Cambodia – here’s a little sneak preview

Amid worsening repression in Cambodia, Abby investigated the limits of donor country response for Devex – As Cambodian repression worsens, donors fret over their responses.

Marta produced an animated video for the fundraising campaign of Business & Human Rights Resource Centre – a London-based organization working on corporate accountability for human rights abuses.

Antoine worked in Ratanakiri province for UNICEF Cambodia documenting their work in the remote communities of Northern Cambodia.

The Ruom team wishes you a Happy New Year and a wonderful 2018

Ruom Dispatch October – November 2016

09 Nov 2016

Recently, Ruom members reported from the Philippines, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand working on stories about UXO clearance in Laos, climate change in the Philippines, Les Clef’s D’Or in Shanghai and Hanoi. Have a look at what we’ve been working on, and what we have coming up next.


Deadly Legacy

Nicolas Axelrod worked with fellow journalist Ryan McMorrow in Laos for VICE Magazine. Laos claims the ill fated title of the world’s most heavily bombed country on a per capita basis. Today, the jungle has returned, swallowing the scars of war and America’s unexploded ordnance (UXO). It remains dormant but deadly. Click the link below to read more.


Rodrigo Duterte, Scorned Abroad, Remains Popular in the Philippines

Since he took office in June promising to kill drug addicts and dealers, about 1,400 people have been killed by the police in antidrug operations, and hundreds more by vigilantes. His embrace of violence has shocked other countries and brought condemnation from human rights groups. The rest of the world may have trouble understanding this, but Duterte still commands ardent support in the Philippines. Reporter Aurora Almendral talks to his supporters to find out why, for The New York Times.


Tunnel Vision

For generations, a tiny village tucked behind a mountain range in southwestern China was isolated from the outside world. Then, they decided to do something about it: They picked up hammers and chisels and started to dig their way out. Ruom writer Denise Hruby wrote this story for Sixth Tone, where she recently started to work as a senior editor.


Climate Migrants

Over time, an estimated 13.5 million Filipinos will be displaced by climate change. Aurora Almendral talks to some of the Philippines’ first climate migrants and explores how Manila is planning to handle the pressures of a changing environment in a long-form feature for Next City. Hannah Reyes Morales contributed photographs.


A Mother’s motivation

Thomas Cristofoletti recently finished editing a new multimedia project for USAID about the struggles of a young mother in the Dominican Republic.


War on Drugs

Hannah Reyes Morales photographed in the streets of Manila, covering Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs for Playboy Germany.

Wishes of the Riches

Les Clefs d’Or were founded in 1929 in Paris, and went international in 1952 to help build a network of concierges, linked through their motto “Service Through Friendship”. Today, the international organisation has about 4,000 members across the world. Denise Hruby reports from Shanghai and Hanoi for the BBC on this exclusive group that fancy themselves the fixers of five-star hospitality.


Arbitration of Seafarers

KCRW investigates how a private justice system exploits workers on the high seas. Hannah Reyes Morales photographed for the series, and Aurora Almendral contributed reporting from Manila.


Lost Temples

Marta Kasztelan produced and co-directed a video together with Jeremiah Overman about Tong Hann – a charismatic Siem Reap tour guide, who prefers to explore the “lost temples” of Angkor Wat as opposed to the more popular sites sought after by tourists. The video was commissioned by Momentum.travel.



Hannah Reyes Morales delivered talks in Chiang Mai and Bangkok for National Geographic Learning about exploration through photography. She recently traveled to Japan to collaborate with National Geographic Channel on a short vignette. She has just moved back to her hometown, Manila, to continue documenting the changing landscape under the new administration of Rodrigo Duterte. She is available for assignments.

Marta Kasztelan has just returned from Poland, where she filmed a short documentary commissioned by Al Jazeera. In between video assignments, she will push ahead with her long-term documentary film project, which is mainly based in Cambodia.

Antoine Raab is currently based in Paris, France and is available for assignments in the region.

This month, Aurora Almendral is continuing coverage of Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines for the New York Times and PRI’s The World, producing radio features for the BBC World Service and covering breaking news for NPR. She is continuing work on an immersive, long-form radio narrative about disasters and human trafficking, a project funded with a Groundtruth Climate Change Fellowship.

Nicolas Axelrod and Thomas Cristofoletti headed to India to finish their video and photo reportage commissioned by WWF, looking at the use of organic pesticides in cotton farming.

Clothilde Le Coz focused on developing the curricula of the Myanmar Journalism Institute in Yangon and traveled to Sittwe, in Arakan state, to study the local impact of Buddhism nationalism, ahead of the new Panglong Peace conference in Nay Pyi Taw.


Garment Industry

This month HRW issued a report about the working conditions of garment workers in Cambodia’s unregistered factories. Around the same time The Cambodia Daily newspaper reported that growing competition overseas is threatening the $5.7 billion export industry.


Ruom Dispatch September 2016

07 Sep 2016

This month, Ruom members reported from the Philippines, Cambodia, China, and Myanmar, working on stories about the South China Sea dispute, Cambodian child boxers, religious practices in Taiwan, and other stories in the region. Have a look at the stories we’ve been working on, and what we are up to.


Raised by the King

Hannah Reyes Morales followed a group of child boxers in Cambodia, from training to the ring. The story is featured on The Atlantic.


(Pole) Dancing for the Gods

Thomas Cristofoletti followed the story of Yi-ting Li, a pole dancer for the gods, in Taiwan. The story is part of his long-term project about underreported religious practices, and it was featured on the South China Morning Post’s Weekend magazine.


Overfishing in the South China Sea

Aurora Almendral contributed reporting for this story on National Geographic about the critical effects of the South China Sea dispute.


China’s Polluted Soil Boosts Food Imports

For Nikkei Asian Review, Denise Hruby wrote about China’s heavily polluted arable land, and how consumers’ growing distrust of local produce has opened new opportunities for food exporters


Care Cambodia

Nicolas Axelrod and Marta Kasztelan worked in Northern Cambodian for CARE Cambodia, where they talked to teachers, students and officials about education in remote indigenous communities. While Nicolas took pictures, Marta is preparing a communications package for the organisation.

On the Move

Ruom collective member Antoine Raab has recently relocated to Paris, France, for few months. If you are based in Paris and would like to know more about Ruom’s work please feel free to contact Antoine to schedule a meeting, you can reach him at:
He is also available for assignments.


Hannah Reyes Morales is currently in Manila, doing stories in the changing landscape of the Philippines under the new president, Rodrigo Duterte. She is available for assignments in the Philippines.

Denise Hruby has started to work atSixth Tone, a new media outlet based in Shanghai, where she will edit, commission freelance work, write features and work on long-form projects. She has just returned from a reporting trip in the remote mountain regions of southern China.

Thomas Cristofoletti is continuing his personal project on underreported religious practices in North East Cambodia.

Marta Kasztelan is going to spend all of September in Poland, where she has been working on a long-term project about access to abortion in her home country. She is available for assignments in Poland throughout the month.

In September Nicolas Axelrod will continue his personal work looking at freshwater lakes and fisheries, documenting the people that live off them and how they cope with the ongoing effects of climate change.

Clothilde Le Coz is off to Europe to attend a conference in Paris on international development. In September, she will continue to work on the state of journalism in Myanmar and train young Myanmar multimedia journalism students in Yangon.


Travelling in Laos

In September, US President Barack Obama will become the first sitting US President to visit Laos. During the Vietnam War, the US waged a ‘Secret War’ in neighboring Laos, dropping two million tons of bombs on the country. An estimated thirty percent have failed to explode, littering parts of the country with unexploded ordnance. Here we share stock footage exploring this landlocked country and the US’s deadly legacy.


Ruom Dispatch August 2016

03 Aug 2016

This month Ruom members covered the death of a prominent political analyst in Cambodia, went on assignment in Cambodia for UNICEF and in India for WWF, produced work from Jamaica for USAID, reported on unsafe abortions for the Guardian, and covered the Philippine president’s bloody war on drugs. Have a look at our latest work.


The Death of Kem Ley

On the morning of July 10th, the prominent political analyst Kem Ley was gunned down at his local café in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Nicolas Axelrod documented the procession that quickly formed as mourners and family members took his body to a local pagoda. Abby Seiff published an article of the event in Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).


Garment Workers Vulnerable to Unsafe Abortions

Women in the garment industry – away from their homes and support networks – are inhibited from accessing healthcare, including abortion services. Have a look at Marta Kasztelan‘s reporting for the Guardian.


Philippines War on Drugs

Aurora Almendral spent an evening on the crimes scenes of Manila, covering Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs for VICE News, which has seen 420 deaths in 30 days.


Most Liveable City in the World

While traveling in Europe this summer, Denise Hruby took a closer look at Vienna, a city she once briefly called home during her years at university. For the BBC, she wrote a travel story on the center of the Habsburg empire, which repeatedly ranks as the “World’s Most Liveable City.”


Mobile Photography Workshop

Hannah Reyes is currently working on a project on mobile photography, and is preparing for workshops on mobile photography with National Geographic Learning.

Ruom on Assignment in India for WWF

Thomas Cristofoletti, Nicolas Axelrod and Denise Hruby recently returned from a 12-day trip to India. For the first leg of the trip, they worked along the Ramganga River, a main tributary to the Ganges, where pollution from tanneries and metal work factories is a major issue. Once the commissioned project is published, we will share more of our work from India. In the meantime have a look at some of the images and read more about it in our blog post.


Ruben, the Violence Interrupter

Last May, Thomas Cristofoletti travelled to Jamaica to produce a new video for USAID, telling the incredible story of Ruben, a former gang leader, who now works as a violence interrupter – preventing shootings and homicides in his community.


Antoine Raab for UNICEF Cambodia

A safe environment for child trafficking survivors. How do you restore childhood for child survivors of trafficking? Start with the basics: let them be children again. Antoine Raab photographed this issue for UNICEF cambodia.



After some months of travelling and assignments around Asia, Thomas Critofoletti is finally back to Cambodia where he will work on finishing several commissioned projects.

Aurora Nemenzo and Hannah Reyesare currently working on stories on climate change in the Philippines.

Nicolas Axelrod will be editing some of the recent videos he shot, and working on a commissioned project looking at education in the north of Cambodia.

Denise Hruby has returned to the heat of Shanghai, where she will start writing and editing for Sixth Tone. She will be leading the site’s environmental, health, education and science reporting teams.

After a four years working for various clients in Cambodia, Antoine Raab just returned in France for few months. He is available for assignment in France or Europe.


Traditional Livelihood at Risk

Laos recently started to build the controversial Don Sahong Dam, its second hydropower dam after the Xayaburi, yet the one that will have a much larger impact on the livelihoods of millions of people, fisheries and endangered species. Have a look at Thomas Cristofoletti‘s work on the subject in the area.


Twelve days in India

31 Jul 2016

Thomas Cristofoletti, Nicolas Axelrod and Denise Hruby recently returned from a 12-day trip to India. For the first leg of the trip, they worked along the Ramganga River, a main tributary to the Ganges, where pollution from tanneries and metal work factories is a major issue. General misinformation about the health of the river means that large amounts of discarded waste ends up in the water. Denise joined us for the first five days of the trip, talking to various people about their relationship to the river and the steps they take to preserve it.

Thomas and Nicolas then journeyed on to Warangal, in the south of India, where they worked with cotton farmers who are finding alternative, sustainable farming methods. These methods are often found in ancient traditions, but have been forgotten when pesticides and chemical fertilisers were praised as reaping better yields.

Below is a short gallery of images from the trip, photographed by Nicolas while he was sitting in a car, waiting for a train to pass or simply not shooting the commissioned video or still images. Once the commissioned project is published, we will share more of our work in India.

July 19, 2016 - Moradabad, India. A family poses for a portrait in their home. © Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom

July 19, 2016 – Moradabad, India. A family poses for a portrait in their home. © Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom

July 18, 2016 - Moradabad, India. People out in the rain getting fuel for their scooters, photographed from a passing car. © Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom

July 18, 2016 – Moradabad, India. People out in the rain getting fuel for their scooters, photographed from a passing car. © Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom

July 18, 2016 - Bareilly, India. A man looks out from a passing train. © Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom

July 18, 2016 – Bareilly, India. A man looks out from a passing train. © Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom

July 18, 2016 - Moradabad, India. People out in the rain, photographed from a passing car. © Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom

July 18, 2016 – Moradabad, India. People out in the rain, photographed from a passing car. © Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom

July 22, 2016 - Moradabad, India. People in traffic, photographed from a passing car. © Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom

July 22, 2016 – Moradabad, India. People in traffic, photographed from a passing car. © Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom

July 21, 2016 - Bareilly, India. People pass their motorcycles under a train crossing barrier. © Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom

July 21, 2016 – Bareilly, India. People pass their motorcycles under a train crossing barrier. © Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom

July 18, 2016 - Moradabad, India. Repairing motorcycles out the front of a shopping complex. © Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom

July 18, 2016 – Moradabad, India. Repairing motorcycles out the front of a shopping complex. © Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom

July 21, 2016 - Bareilly, India. Sadu's and temple guardians posse for a portrait. © Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom

July 21, 2016 – Bareilly, India. Sadu’s and temple guardians posse for a portrait. © Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom

July 18, 2016 - Moradabad, India. Looking for mangoes in a tree. © Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom

July 18, 2016 – Moradabad, India. Looking for mangoes in a tree. © Nicolas Axelrod / Ruom

Ruom Dispatch July 2016

06 Jul 2016

This month, Ruom members worked around Asia, covering business in Cambodia, politics in the Philippines, culture in Indonesia, and education in China. Here is what we have been working on.


Carving Creative Spaces

Despite the imposition of Sharia law, artists, musicians, dancers and skaters still thrive in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. The story is part of Thomas Cristofoletti‘s long term work about religious practices around the world. You can view it on Al Jazeera.

A ticket to ride

Nicolas Axelrod photographed Shivam Tripathi, a businessman, whose company provides the first reliable online service that allows travellers to buy bus tickets. Read more in the Financial Times.

Swedish backed Cambodian Employment

Last March, Antoine Raab photographed Lars-Åke Svensson, Swedish delegate to the Cambodian National Employment Center for the Swedish magazine ARBETSFÖRMEDLINGEN. Sweden participates in the financing of the center, located in the Ministry of Labour in Phnom Penh. The image was published in the June issue of the magazine.

Building Blocks

Denise Hruby explores how innovation and creativity are making inroads into China’s education system. You can read the feature in print and online on Nikkei Asian Review.



We are happy to introduce our new member, Aurora Almendral. Aurora is a writer and radio producer from New York, who has lived in Morocco, Spain and Syria, and is currently based in Manila, Philippines. She has covered disasters, poverty, economic growth and global health, as well as crime, culture and technology. Her work has been aired or published by NPR News, BBC News and BBC World Service, PRI’s The World, NPR’s Snap Judgment, Monocle, Esquire Philippines, VICE News and others. She is currently a writer for Facebook’s Free Basics.


Nicolas Axelrod, Thomas Cristofoletti and Denise Hruby have spent years documenting the mighty rivers of Southeast Asia like the Mekong, which is tightly linked to the economic rise of several countries but also to the livelihoods of millions of small-scale farmers and fishermen. In July, the three will travel to northern India to document pollution of the Ganges river and how grassroots organizations are trying to save the country’s lifeline.

Clothilde Le Coz is preparing for a reporting trip to Rakhine State in Myanmar to cover the rise of nationalist sentiments and its consequences for the Rohingya population.

In between assignments, Marta Kasztelan continues working on her documentary film, which is set in Cambodia.

This month, Antoine Raab, went to Ratanakiri and suburbs around Phnom Penh with UNICEF Canada and ELLE Canada to document the visit of donors. In July we will be on assignment for Happy Chandara.

Aurora will be covering the ongoing news stories on the South China Sea dispute from the Philippines and the Philippine presidential transition, as well as a radio feature on the Philippines’ first transgender politician for the BBC World Service.


Mekong Delta, Water woes.

As the snow melts in the upper reaches of the Himalaya, and the rains arrive for the Monsoon, the Mekong river rises. This year, like in recent years the water levels are alarmingly low, changing the landscape of the delta forever. Have a look atThomas Cristofoletti‘s work on the subject in the region.


Ruom Dispatch June 2016

01 Jun 2016

This month we worked on stories around the globe – from Cambodia, Myanmar, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Philippines, and Taiwan. We are excited to share what we have been working on, along with what we have lined up for the coming months.


The Vanishing Lake

At the height of the dry season, the situation of the Tonle Sap lake looks dire. Water levels in the lake—the largest body of freshwater in Southeast Asia—are at historic lows. With fishermen netting a fraction of their normal haul, debt and hunger are rampant and countless people have had to seek work abroad. Nicolas Axelrod, Antoine Raab and Abby Seiff spent a week on the lake gathering stories of those struggling to cope as climate change, damming and overpopulation destroy their way of life and their nation’s key food source.

Note to editors: A features package including video and photos is available.

Philippines Elections

Hannah Reyes Morales went on the road with Philippines’ Vice President Elect Leni Robredo, as she took a 12 hour bus ride from Manila to her precinct at Naga.

Financial Times

Antoine Raab travelled to Siem Reap to photograph French Vietnamese designer Louise Loubatieres in her colourful boutique. The images appear in this month’s Financial Times magazine.


Thomas Cristofoletti recently came back from an assignment in Jamaica and Dominican Republic where he produced two new multimedia projects for USAID.

Holy Cat

For the South China Morning Post, Denise Hruby looked at the holy Burmese cats that have been reintroduced to their native home after more than seven decades of absence.

Drought is no joke

Marta Kasztelan has joined forces with Jeremiah Overman to produce a video about the crippling effects of drought and climate change in Cambodia for People in Need.



In between assignments, Marta Kasztelan has been working on her documentary film, which takes place in Cambodia and follows a rather extraordinary bunch of characters and chain of events. More details coming soon.

Clothilde Le Coz has kept busy organizing a summer camp for young journalists from Myanmar in June. As part of the camp, which will take place in Nay Pyi Taw, she will give a workshop on reporting.

Antoine Raab will be on assignment in Ratanakiri for Unicef Cambodia and will spend the remainder of June in Siem Reap working on a personal project.

Thomas Cristofoletti is currently in Taiwan to continue his long term project on religions. He will spend the other half of June in Italy and Spain.

Nicolas Axelrod is working between Cambodia and Thailand on assignments, he is also exploring some of the region’s important waterways.


First rains, first crickets

With the first rains of the monsoon season coming in, the cricket hunting season is back on. Have a look at our work documenting cricket hunters in the Cambodian countryside.


Ruom Dispatch May 2016

05 May 2016

April has taken us to Nepal, The Philippines and the Dominican Republic. Between grant work, commissioned work and personal projects we have kept busy –– take a look!


Back on the Mekong

Some of the pictures Thomas Cristofoletti shot over the course of three years about life along the Mekong in southern Laos and northern Cambodia were featured this month on China’s Blog Weekly Magazine.

The women who built Cambodia

Cambodia’s construction boom has attracted a female workforce who earn less than men and carry an additional burden. Read Marta Kasztelan‘s latest piece on Al Jazeera English, with photographs by Hannah Reyes. The article was also featured in Newsweek Japan.


Climate Change in Nepal

Nicolas Axelrod and Abby Seiff just returned from working in Nepal where they documented the effects of climate change and the siltation of rivers flowing down from the Himalayas. As major rivers dry up and change course, the impact on humans and animals can be felt from source to delta.

UNICEF – Cambodia

Antoine Raab has documented inclusive education and vulnerable children for UNICEF projects that will help bring awareness to those issues.

Vanishing Roots

The project Clothilde Le Coz, Antoine Raab and Thomas Cristofoletti worked on in Prey Lang forest has been featured on the multimedia platform Makeshift. It shows how the Prey Lang Network uses technology to raise awareness on deforestation.


Brewing Success

Denise Hruby has started to contribute stories from China for Nikkei Asian Review and recently took a closer look at China’s coffee craze and the impact growing consumption has on the world market.



Nicolas Axelrod is busy editing videos he recently shot in Nepal and Cambodia. He will be travelling to Phnom Penh this month to document the work of the neuroscience department of Calmette hospital.

Hannah Reyes is currently in the Philippines, working on her climate change fellowship with The GroundTruth Project, for which she investigates how climate change affects Filipino women and girls.

Clothilde Le Coz is training young journalists in Yangon and preparing for a trip to the center of Myanmar to report on the ongoing drought and how it is affecting the local population. She will be mentoring students during her stay.

Marta Kasztelan has been working on videos for SNV Development Organization and for People in Need. She has also just started shooting her new documentary film in Cambodia.

Thomas Cristofoletti is travelling to the Dominican Republic and Jamaica to shoot two new multimedia projects for USAID.

After half a year in China, Denise Hruby is close to taking her first Chinese proficiency test. She continues to work on a long-term project about China’s slowly changing education system and is working on assignments for BBC, Nikkei Asian Review and WWD this month.

This month Antoine Raab is finishing up his work for Jotun Cambodia in Phnom Penh.



One year ago this month a devastating earthquake tore through this landlocked nation. It triggered avalanches and landslides, and destroyed buildings throughout the center of the country. The earthquake killed nearly 9,000 people and injured over 21,000. Here are some images of Nepal from before the earthquake.


Ruom Dispatch April 2016

07 Apr 2016

Between personal projects and assignments, this month we have worked along the Mekong river and traveled to Indonesia and the Philippines.


Back on the Mekong

Nicolas Axelrod and Marta Kasztelan shot a series of short videos for the Luc Hoffmann Institute in Kratie, northern Cambodia. Documenting the water usage of a family that runs a small shop along the Mekong river, the videos will be used to show the effects of climate change at a time when drought is changing the family’s daily life.

In Between – Youth under the Sharia Law

In early March, Thomas Cristofoletti spent 10 days in Banda Aceh, the only province in Indonesia where Sharia law is implemented. He documented subcultures and followed young artists, musicians, dancers, skaters and surfers to find out how they are trying to find their place in an oppressed society.



Hannah Reyes, together with Matt Blomberg, talked to desperate Cambodian families selling their daughters as brides to Chinese bachelors for The Cambodia Daily Weekend.



Hannah Reyes recently started a collaboration with CNN Philippines, where she will be writing about photography in her home country, the Philippines.


Life in Shanghai

For BBC Capital, Denise Hruby has taken a closer look at her new home Shanghai, and found out why hundreds of thousands of expats are drawn to this city of 25 million.



Thomas Cristofoletti travelled to Indonesia twice this month to continue his long-term project on underreported religious practices.

Nicolas Axelrod worked in Udon Thani in the northern Thailand to document the work of WWF Greater Mekong around the Beung Kong Long Ramsar site. He photographed fishermen and farmers who manage protected fish breeding grounds.

Hannah Reyes has been selected as one of the climate change fellows for the GroundTruth Project, an organization co-founded by Gary Knight that supports early career journalists.
The New York Times’ The Outlaw Ocean, for which she contributed photo and video for the chapter in the Philippines, has won several NPPA photojournalism multimedia award.

Denise Hruby is working on several stories for BBC Capital and Nikkei Asia Review from Shanghai. She’s started a long-term project looking at developments in the education sector in China, and how, in a nation of 1.4 billion people tightly controlled by the government, some are seeking alternatives outside of the rigorous state education and cultural norms.

Antoine Raab is currently working on a commercial assignment taking pictures of some of Phnom Penh’s most iconic structures, building a stock library of the fast growing Southeast Asian capital.

Marta Kasztelan has just returned from a shoot in Stung Treng, where she’s been producing a video for SNV about a horticultural project aimed at increasing the income of female farmers.



As the current drought in Cambodia causing havoc throughout the country, we share images from the country’s rivers, lakes and dams.


Ruom Dispatch March 2016

07 Mar 2016

This February, we produced a multimedia feature on indigenous communities fighting illegal logging, photographed a not so ordinary wedding, and worked on other stories – have a look at our latest dispatch.

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We have just updated out FEATURE STORIES section to highlight some of our favourite stories from our writers.


“Vanishing Roots” – Clothilde, Antoine and Thomas’ multimedia project about the struggle of an indigenous community in Cambodia fighting illegal logging and deforestation in Prey Lang was featured in Roads and Kingdoms.


Some of Thomas Cristofoletti’s images from sugar plantations in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province, were licensed by Oxfam Australia for their latest report looking at the connection between four of Australia’s biggest banks and land grabbing


After being forced to marry under a genocidal regime, seven Cambodian couples have decided to renew their vows. Hannah documented this wedding, along with writer Dene Chen. The story is featured on Al Jazeera America.


Acid is increasingly becoming a personal weapon of choice, especially against women. Clothilde Le Coz found out that enacting laws could actually help. Read her investigation for PassBlue.



Thomas Cristofoletti travelled to Banda Aceh (Indonesia) to continue his long term project on religions.

Nicolas Axelrod is editing his work from Costa Rica and preparing for several assignments in Cambodia and Thailand.

Clothilde Le Coz moved to Myanmar, where she will help develop the activities of the first private journalism school of the country.

Denise Hruby has started to write for WWD and BBC Capital from Shanghai, and is currently looking into why parents in China are increasingly trying to spur their child’s creativity and talents.

Antoine Raab is currently working on assignments for UNICEF and continuing his personal portraits series.

Marta Kasztelan continues to work on her personal film project.



Ahead of Women’s day this month we have set up a gallery looking at women in Cambodia: mothers, workers, teachers, middle class or farmers – we share the images of women from all over the country.


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