UK, Ireland, Russia, and Malawi
You can see more of my images at www.chrisboyd.ca
It has been a long time since I blogged any of my international work. So this will be a bit of a catch up edition I guess. Some of the shooting I’ve done this last year has been very different then in previous years. I was also asked to do a lot of interviews, to get stories to go with the photos. I’d like to share some of them with you as well. This year I had the incredible fortune of working with Tearfund, an international humanitarian organization based out of London England.
First set I would like to share are some images from some recent trips to the UK, the first was for field work. Collecting samples for my masters, the other was just for travel sake. I extended a photo trip and did some travel in North Ireland and England.
This next set is from my time in Malawi.
10- This incredibly strong young girl, just 15 years old, was a victim of repeated rape. She was continuously brought out to the fields by a known assailant. She is now a part of a growing support network, shown standing behind her all wearing the “silent no more” tee shirt. Silent no more is a campaign to speak out against violence against women. You can sign a pledge here, http://www.wewillspeakout.org/pledge/
^If you for whatever reason feel compelled to steal any of my images, which I implore you not to do (I will take action take whatever action I can against you), please respect this image in particular and contact me before you duplicate/copy/manipulate or do anything with this image in particular.^
13- A young girl sits by her violently ill mother. Her father, who refused to take her and her mother to the hospital when they became ill, stole everything everything from the family leaving not even a bed mat for them to sleep on. Her brother Gilbert, age 12, dropped out of school to become the “man” man of the house. He does his best selling peanuts to provide whatever income he can to help his family. Mama Theresa and her organisation, Somebody Cares, after our house visit returned with some supplies and the funds needed to get Gilbert back in school. The woman in the background is a volunteer with Somebody Cares.
17- This woman is a part of Village savings loan group. The first group, Takumana 1, has 25 members, 19 women and 6 men. They save money between them and then loan it out within the group. The first group was trained by tearfund and then they trained the second group, Takumana 2.
19- Chitera health centre- Government health clinic A young woman gets a small drop of blood taken for am HIV test. This is standard procedure for all pregnant women. The second image is when she hears her results.
^The young women hears good news and wipes away a tear a relief.
Prior to travelling to Malawi I was working for a week in Russia. I was shooting for a program for recovering addicts. They have an intense program that begins at a farm where the addicts detox and through counselling attempting to regain control of their lives. After graduating the program their are optional follow up programs. One of which involves a work placement of sorts. One in particular is a plastic recycling plant.
22- This man, throughout my whole time in Russia, would be very helpful, and cooperative with this project. It was also great that his work station was by a big window and came complete with billowing steam.
23- Vladimir – After his new home burned down he tried to live with other people but that didn’t work out and he turned to the streets.. While homeless he struggled with alcohol. He joined the centre September 4 2011.
24-Nastya- She spent 6 years struggling with fast drugs/ heroin/ etc. and had several bad health issues related to that. After completing her own process, she came back as a volunteer to help other. She has been 2 years clean and in good health.
28- An integral part of the program, and Russian culture as a whole, is the Banya or Sauna. My experience with the Banya, was certainly an interesting one. I should preface the story by saying, I was the only one who spoke English, so an explanation on the process, which would have been very helpful, was not given. You start in a room adjacent to the one shown below. It’s a small change room, with a kitchen table in the middle. On the table are some bottles of kvass, (a russian drink similar to root beer), tomatoes, lettuce, rolled ham and other finger foods. When I entered the building (the 3rd picture down) there were 6-8 men sitting and eating, and another just joining in. Everyone is of course naked. The few men I came in with disrobe as well exchanging pleasantries. Nothing teaches you to look a man in the eyes like a Russian Banya. After some snacks I go into the room shown below to see the small pool being filled with a hose and buckets of water laid out on the bench with ladles. When I walked into the small sauna (second image) I was assaulted by the heat. I looked at the thermometer that read 80+ degrees Celsius and then started a timer on my watch so I wouldn’t stay in any more then 5 mins. I would like to add sitting on 80 degree wood… straight up uncomfortable. After my first 5 mins I step back into the room with the pool and notice the men going up to buckets and ladling the water over their heads to cool off. So I do the same. The first was too hot, then next was a bit cooler and the next a bit cooler still. So, extrapolating, I go to the bucket and pour it over my head. I should add I was getting some odd looks whilst trying the other buckets. This is because each man took a bucket from the pile and some cold water from the tap and then warmed the water with the boiling water in the last bucket until it was a temperature they were comfortable with. Each man had a bucket to himself. I of course didn’t figure this out until after I poured the bucket of boiling water over my head. After recovering amidst the laughter I returned to the sauna for another 5 min session. Towards the end most of the men returned to the room with the snacks and took some outside where we sat to cool off while getting eaten by flies.
I’m brewing a blog of the effect a camera can have, how it changes things, and I don’t mean for the better. I’ve experienced it a lot in the past, people going after their photo without consideration for the effect on local peoples self worth. This can often have an ostracising effect, in particular when experienced repeatedly over a long time. I’m not sure exactly how I want to approach the issue, but hopefully it won’t be long before it’s in print form.