I’ll admit I’ve been humming Christmas carols since early September. But with Christmas now officially around the corner, I want to take a moment to look back at a year of photography, of meeting people from all walks of life, and share a few of the real highlights, of people sharing small but sometimes vital pieces of who they are and what they do.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

when you climb a mountain, and the people you meet on the way take the time to greet you…

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Thaba Bosiu is a sandstone plateau some 24 kilometers east of Lesotho’s capital, Maseru. The name means Night Mountain, and surrounding the plateau is a small village and open plains. Thaba Bosiu was once the capital of Lesotho. © Albin Hillert

Full gallery: Thaba Bosiu, Lesotho

when after a few awkward moments you’re accepted into the group…

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The Roma College of Nursing is a Roman Catholic non-profit institution under the Christian Health Association of Lesotho. The college educates nurses and midwives, and is situated adjacent to Saint Joseph’s Hospital in the Ha Mafefooane Valley, some 35 kilometers from Lesotho’s capital, Maseru. © Albin Hillert

Full gallery:  Roma College of Nursing, Lesotho

when you’re invited to see that even in the face of scarce resources, people strive to give care to those who need it…

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Saint Joseph’s Hospital is a district hospital in the Ma Mafefooane Valley in Lesotho. The hospital was established in 1937 and is run as a Roman Catholic non-profit institution by the Christian Health Association of Lesotho. As a district hospital, it offers comprehensive healthcare including male, female, paediatric, Tuberculosis and maternity care. © Albin Hillert

Full gallery:  Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Lesotho

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Scott Hospital is run by the Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa and is a founding member of the Christian Health Association of Lesotho. It is located in the village of Morija, and operates and supervises clinics in the Maseru District of Lesotho. © Albin Hillert

Full gallery:  Scott Hospital, Lesotho

when people react to terror by standing firm in efforts for peace, expressing grief but also love, compassion and a steadfast helping hand…

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April 2017: Two days after a lorry was driven into a store in central Stockholm, killing at least four people and injuring many more, a peaceful demonstration for love was held at Sergels torg in central Stockholm, to commemorate the victims of violence, and to join hands for a non-violent future. © Albin Hillert

Full gallery:  Sweden, Peace demonstrations, 2017

when you take a walk in the forest, and the birds and deer decide you’re not a threat to them…

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The Nacka Nature Reserve (‘Nackareservatet’) is a nature reserve along the border between Stockholm and Nacka Municipality in Sweden. The area includes small lakes, with a natural setting typical of the southern Stockholm area. © Albin Hillert

Full gallery:  Nacka Nature Reserve, Sweden

when people from all over the world gather to work together, and you’re invited to play a part…

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The Twelfth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation gathers in Windhoek, Namibia, on 10-16 May 2017, under the theme “Liberated by God’s Grace”, bringing together some 800 delegates and participants from 145 member churches in 98 countries. © Albin Hillert

Full gallery:  Namibia, LWF Assembly Life

when you work through the warmest days of the year, and people find energy to continue to move together…

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Meeting on 19 May – 1 June 2017, the Global Ecumenical Theological Institute 2017 gathers young Christian theologians from Europe and around the world to study and experience horizons of an ecumenical theology and ecclesiology. GETI’17 is organized under the patronage of the Conference of European Churches, and works under three key themes: Reforming Theology, Migrating Church, and Transforming Society. © Albin Hillert, all rights reserved

Full gallery:  Germany, Youth, May 2017

when children, adolescents and religious leaders decide to rally together, for the rights of those most vulnerable…

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On 16 June, more than 500 people gather to commemorate the Day of the African Child in Nairobi, Kenya, and to speak up publicly for the rights of children and adolescents living with HIV. Religious leaders from a range of different faith communities and traditions lead a march through the streets of Nairobi, accompanied by hundreds of youth and young children from local schools. At the event, the religious leaders committed publicly to work for children’s rights to HIV testing, access to treatment, and freedom from stigma and discrimination, to make sure that those who are in need of treatment are also able to stay on treatment. © Albin Hillert

Full gallery:  Kenya, Paediatric AIDS, Nairobi, 2017

when you go to a country you’ve never been, and find that people there live like people do most…

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June 2017: Saint Petersburg, Russia. © Albin Hillert

Full gallery:  Russia, Saint Petersburg, June 2017

when you’re invited to where your working life began, and find you still have a contribution to make…

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The Tjuonajokk fishing lodge in Lapland, Sweden, is operated by Fish Your Dream and attracts people from across the world every year for its famous Grayling, Trout and Pike fisheries. © Albin Hillert

Full gallery:  Lapland, Tjuonajokk 2017

when you find out there’s a tower to be ascended, offering views of surrounding Transylvanian mountains…

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August 2017: Sibiu, Romania. The tower of Sibiu Lutheran Cathedral offers a beautiful overview of the town and the surrounding area. © Albin Hillert

Full gallery:  Romania, Youth & Church, August 2017

when diverse sectors come together, to join efforts for a world without AIDS as a public health threat…

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Gathering in New York in September 2017, faith leaders from a multitude of religions come together with representatives of other sectors to support coordinated efforts in responding to HIV. © Albin Hillert

Full gallery:  New York, September 2017

when you see testimonies for peace in the most difficult of contexts…

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September 2017: The World Council of Churches formally opens the “12 Faces of Hope” exhibition at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland. The exhibition portrays 12 people from Israel and Palestine sharing testimonies of hope, towards a future of justice and peace in the Holy Land. © Albin Hillert

Full gallery:  Switzerland, September 2017

when people speak up against what is wrong, telling authorities that seeking refuge must remain an exercisable human right…

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“Stop deporting people to a country that isn’t safe”, was the message as people from all walks of life gathered at Medborgarplatsen in central Stockholm, to highlight Sweden’s Refugee Day, and the way Swedish authorities keep persisting in deporting young people to Afghanistan. The event marked two years since November 2015, when Swedish government officials took a turn towards stricter policies for granting refugee status to asylum seekers, and so a range of civil society organizations, including faith-based organizations, now take a stand for more humane refugee policies. © Albin Hillert

Full gallery:  Sweden, Refugee Day 2017

when young folk decide to get engaged, to champion for children’s rights to testing, treatment and care…

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Through an interactive workshop on World AIDS Day 2017, children and adolescents were invited to contribute by producing a work of art of their own. The art was sold, to gather money for school and lunch fees for children living with HIV in Kenya. The children were also invited to become Paediatric HIV Champions, committing to speak about HIV and AIDS among their peers, to raise awareness and help move towards an AIDS-free world. © Albin Hillert

Full gallery:  World AIDS Day 2017

when those who have suffered what others must listen carefully and work hard even to imagine, are given recognition for their efforts for a world of  peace…

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“In a world where with today’s technology, two bombs can kill the entire population of the Earth, killing women and men, adults and children: we cannot have this. Peace. No war.” In 2017, the Nobel Peace Prize goes to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), for “its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons”, and so in Oslo in December 2017, peace activists and campaigners from all over the world including more than 20 Hibakusha, survivors of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, gather to celebrate and manifest for peace and a world free of nuclear weapons. © Albin Hillert

Full galleries:  Atomic bomb survivors, Norway 2017; Torchlight march, Norway 2017; Prayers for peace, Trinity ChurchNobel Peace Prize award ceremony 2017

… and when you turn the corner at the end of the day, and hear the streets fill up to the music of bagpipes, and you know Christmas is on its way.

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22-year-old Nikolai Huse from Norway plays the bagpipes on the streets of Oslo in December 2017. © Albin Hillert

Full photo archive

Take care, and Merry Christmas,