War Correspondent and Relief Activist: Adventures & Disillusionment


Biafra, photo by Daniel Grotta
Biafra, photo by Daniel Grotta

After the motor scooter accident that cut his time at Temple University short, Daniel worked in a photo store just long enough to buy some Leica M4 cameras. Then he set sail for England, which became his base for several years. As a photojournalist war correspondent, he covered several hot spots including Northern Ireland, the Middle East and the Biafran War.

The horrors of the mass starvation in Biafra hit Daniel hard. As a direct result, his next adventure was as a member of Operation Omega, in which a handful of relief workers/political activists drove an ambulance halfway around the world from England to Bangladesh. Their purpose was to challenge the right of sovereignty that prevents relief from crossing borders to reach populations in crisis. (Daniel told me a story about being trapped in no man’s land between the borders of India and Bangladesh. They slept under the ambulance, with cobras slithering nearby and the two armies’ guns pointed at them.)

The powers that be (I’m not sure who it was) offered a compromise that they would turn their backs, so to speak, and allow the ambulance to cross to Bangladesh unofficially. Daniel wanted to get the food and medical supplies to the starving population in any manner possible. But the rest of Operation Omega said that sneaking into Bangladesh was contrary to their mission statement. Upset at once again failing to help a population in crisis, Daniel walked away from Operation Omega. He ended up staying some time in the Ghandi Peace Foundation before returning home to Philadelphia.

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