Ethiopia Photography Group Show on Maternal Health 9.12.12

 

As many of you know, I spent about a month in Ethiopia documenting a maternal health condition called obstetric fistula through an organization called Salaam Garage.  It was a life changing experience and one that I have relived in my mind many times over.  This project was the most meaningful personal project I have ever created and I know I reached and educated many people through the personal stories and imagery combined.  To me, that has been one of the best feelings in the world.

I would love to continue this field work in the near future, but for now, I’m excited to announce that I have been organizing a photography show at the FotoCare gallery here in NYC with a photo friend of mine, David Goldman.  We will be showcasing the work of six photographers and citizen journalists (myself, David Goldman, Jonathan Hanson, Maggie Soladay, Kristie McLean, Antoinette Douglass-Hall and Veronica Gray) who have traveled to Ethiopia to document the maternal health issue of obstetric fistula and to raise awareness of the issue here in our own communities in the United States.  On display will be images of the people and landscape of the country of Ethiopia, as well as portraits of women and girls who took the time to share their personal stories so as to raise awareness.

If you live in the New York City area, please come out to the show on September 12, 2012 from 6:30 – 8:30pm at FotoCare.  43 West 22nd Street New York NY 10010

Special thanks to FotoCare for hosting this show and to Wolfes Camera, K&M Camera and FujiFilm for their generous donations to the project.

If you care to learn more about this condition and have a few minutes to spare please read the following paragraph:

For the 29 million women who live in the rural Ethiopia, marrying and starting a family in the early teenage years is considered a normal occurrence.  Due to poverty, poor road infrastructure and very limited access to healthcare (the nearest hospital may be a hundreds of miles away), over 90% of childbirths occur on dirt floors with no medical attendant present.  Frequently, serious birth complications occur due to obstructed labor.  Often times the women is so malnourished and/or underdeveloped that her birth canal is too small to delivery properly.  The baby will become stuck in the birth canal and the girl may be in labor for a week, only to deliver a stillborn.  She may be left with tear between her bladder and vagina, her rectum and vagina, or both, called obstetric fistula.  As a result, she is rendered incontinent of urine and/or feces.  The smell and unsanitary situation often leaves her alone, isolated and ashamed.  Sometimes, her husband and family shun her, believing the condition is the result of possession by malicious spirits.  Her dignity and self worth are shattered.  Thinking there is no hope or cure, she often contemplates suicide.

This condition will not cure itself.  Surgery is the only option.  To read more about my experiences with the women as well as with the Hamlin Hospitals in Addis Ababa and Mekelle, please visit my personal project section here.

 

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