Here is a typical moment during a SalaamGarage trip.
This is Sarah Henderson:
http://sirenapictures.com, http://theultimateride.tv. She lives in Portland, OR and came with us on the SalaamGarage Ethiopia trip 2010. She is awesome. We were working with the Hamlin Fistula Hospital, an absolutely amazing organization.
What is happening here? Fuji donated polaroid-esque cameras to SalaamGarage so that we could give photos back to the women rather than just taking them. Sarah Henderson is photographing patients at the hospital.
Most of Hamlin’s patients are from a remote village in Ethiopia. We found a woman in physical therapy learning how to walk again.
She had a double fistula, double meaning both her vaginal canal and the rectum lining were torn during labor. These linings are commonly torn during labor because the women are married and pregnant before they are fully developed. Much of this is due to child marriages.
Her baby died in utero. While delivering the dead baby these linings tore. As a result she leaked urine and feces uncontrollably. Her family was ashamed of the way that made her smell and built her a hut in the back of her families hut and she lived in it for 7 years before making to the hospital. During those years her leg and foot muscles atrophied until she could no longer walk, eventually resorting to a fetal position. Her family threw food out to her as she lay on the dirt floor of her mud hut for those 7 years. She said she ate like a dog, dragging herself up to the pile of food, eating while lying there in the dirt, leaking.
She made it to Hamlin, they performed surgery on her and we are all praying it will heal properly. Currently she has catheters connected to her for drainage.
Sarah was photographing patients at physical therapy and I walked up to see what she was doing. We had extreme restrictions around photography at the hospital, so I opted to walk around and check in with people rather than work on a story.
Sarah had completed photographing women with her regular camera and pulled out the Fuji camera so that she could give her a photo of herself.
She walks with a walker, and slowly made it up against the banister where Sarah was photographing women for their turn with the Fuji. Her feet were completely crooked. Maybe a toe or a heel touched the ground as she walked. Mangled, I had never seen anything like it. She leaned very hard on the walker avoiding any weight bearing on her atrophied feet and legs to make it up to the banister. Once up against it she motioned for us to take the walker out of the photograph. From there she did her best to slowly stand up on those feet somehow and motioned for Sarah to take the photo, now. Sarah went to take a photo and wouldn’t you know it, the camera was out of film so she had to walk away and reload. It was sort of a photo time-out and everyone took their eyes off her, except me. I watched her lean back onto the banister with an expression of sheer agony that sent shivers down my spine. She was in so much pain standing there for us, so that we could take a damn picture.
Sarah came back with a loaded camera. The woman stood up and I knew she was hiding the pain this time. She motioned for us to get the walker out of the way again and then lifted her chin so amazingly high… more shivers down my spine… and Sarah took a few photos.
When Sarah was done the woman took the walker back, leaned up on it again and waited in agony for the photo to develop. Once it did Sarah handed it to her and she slowly, quietly smiled. She looked up at Sarah and whispered ‘amasiganalo’, ‘thank you’ in Amharic. Her language.
She got back on her walker and slowly limped back, dragging her completely disabled legs and feet back into physical therapy so that she could finish up her session which we interrupted.
SalaamGarage is an absolute privilage. We find ourselves in these situations and get to tell you about it. I ask you, reading this, would you help her? Would you donate a few bucks to Hamlin? It will take 5 minutes. Here is how you do it:
You WILL change a women’s life forever. I know, because I met her. And now so did you.
And to us, the SalaamGarage team. We are NOT too busy. We are not at all too damn busy to get these stories out and help this woman, help the hospital. I don’t care how crazy our schedule is. We weren’t too busy to spend 2 weeks in Ethiopia. We weren’t too busy to take her photo. This woman stood there for us, in sheer agony so that we could take a photo. And then what? They weren’t too busy to tell us their story, share their lives with us. We have no excuse not to help. Get those stories out there and not for our own glory. Do it for hers.
You can start with a 5 minute presentation about your experience at a
5 Minutes. Can you give her 5 minutes?