Ash Kosiewicz

Ash Kosiewicz (Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team): Ash graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2002 with a dual degree in government and journalism. After graduation, he worked for two years as a child support officer with the Texas Office of the Attorney General. In 2004, he moved to Ecuador, where he lived for 10 months working with a local foundation in Guayaquil to raise funds for a health center project in the rural canton of Santa Lucia. Upon returning from Ecuador, he worked for two years as communicators director with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, which provides legal aid to the poor in the United States. At the time of his fellowship, Ash was studying for a master's degree in Latin American studies from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. After his fellowship, Ash wrote: "The AP experience has given me another incredibly impactful experience in Latin America. It has given me an incredible story to tell, one that truly leaves people interested though unsure how to respond. I feel like I’ve gone through some pretty intense stuff, and I’ve come out of it stronger and more aware. I know I can handle tough environments, and work in a fast paced environment."

A New Beginning – Day 3

04 Jun

“Ha llorado.” (“You cried.”)

Finally, I thought. I woke up my last day in Putis covered with every conceivable piece of clothing/blanket/sleeping bag I could find. As I lifted it all to look out on the new day, I was suddenly, unexpectedly greeted by the face of Ester, an EPAF employee that had slept next to me in our makeshift tent. Still not entirely awake, I was surprised to see her face staring back at me so closely. She looked at me and said, “Ha llorado.”

I reached up to feel my eyes. I hadn´t taken out my contacts in three days, and I figured my eyes were doing everything they could to tell me that the Putis way of life was far from ideal. I was shaken by the comment. For some time I had been waiting to know, when is all of this going to hit me? For the past two days I had seen bones, skulls of children with gunshot wounds, pieces of torn clothing, family members grieving over the grave – and I felt nothing. Yes, I felt sad, but I didn´t feel it in any visceral, cathartic way. I talked about my struggle with Ellen, a Canadian student working with EPAF completing a PhD in forensic anthropology from the University of Indiana. We both knew that what we were seeing was so removed from our own experiences, it seemed surreal. But I still wanted to feel something.

And so Ellen told me something then that I only now fully understand. She mentioned how some time ago she had talked to Melissa, an EPAF employee in charge of analyzing the recovered bones of the disappeared, asking her what it was like for her to confront death on a daily basis. Melissa responded that it was difficult, and that she tried to not think about the families she had met over the years while working. It was only when she returned home when she allowed herself to think back upon what it was like to hold the bones of children.

While putting together the photo montage at the end of this final clip in my house back in Lima two nights ago, I finally faced the swirl of images and experiences I had managed to internalize over my three days in Putis. Looking at the pictures, I cried over such loss of life, and the lives that were shattered on the 13th day of December, 1984. But my experience in Putis was not just about grief and sadness. It was also about a new beginning for the handful of families that were visibly heartened by EPAF´s work to recover their loved ones. Some said they had thought everyone had forgotten about their plight. The photos show otherwise.


Posted By Ash Kosiewicz

Posted Jun 4th, 2008


  • Amy Burrows

    June 4, 2008


    That’s the most moving blog I’ve ever read/watched. You are a professional, Ash. You write for cognitive and affective education.. people who read these blogs and watch your videos will not only learn, they will feel. That is so important.

  • Caitlin

    June 4, 2008


    beautiful, moving, powerful, graceful, stunning – you have captured this in a way that tells a story, pays homage and gives hope. thank you for bringing this story to all of us that are fortunate enough to be following your time in Peru. amazing work, handsome.

  • Zbyszek

    June 5, 2008


    I agree, this is better than ABC,CBS and NBC put together (they do not appear to be interested anyway but if they were…).Two things that interests me , how were those sites discovered ? and whether Shining Path connection is going to be followed on ?
    Otherwise again , this is a high quality journalism .

  • Holly

    June 5, 2008


    Very moving. I had a lump in my throat when I watched the clip and my eyes were watering. News articles are so detached from the pain and the suffering these people face but you, in way, brought the observer and the victim together. We, observers, were able to empathize with them. More work like this has to be done so this, as you say, never happens again. Amazing work, hermano.

  • Larissa

    June 8, 2008


    Oh Ash…You are an incredible journalist, and I am so moved by the work you are doing with EPAF. I’m also so proud of what you have given to and taken from the organization. Amazing.

  • Priscila

    June 8, 2008


    I haven´t seen the video but I can imagine. This is a clear example of the consequence of the suffering of inocent people due to civil war. Unfortunately, violence happens today in different scale. We can´t close our heart in front of this kind of things, it helps us for reflexion.

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