[Pictured, L-R (top): Alirameen Akram (Medical Records), Salman Dasti (Anesthesiologist), Lianna Hopper (OR Nurse), Bryan Stamm (Pediatrician), Neal Fleming (Lead Anesthesiologist). (Middle): Devi Tantri (Surgeon), John Kaufmann (Patient Transporter), Dennis Dundas (Medical Director), Pamela Dundas (Head Nurse), Jeanne Kille (OR Nurse), Jean Petro (Lead PACU Nurse), Tom Fox (Mission Director), Marguerite Fleming (PACU Assistant). (Bottom): Michelle Benedict (Photojournalist), Ellen Boesner (Ward Coordinator), Steve Brozosky (Quartermaster), Caroline Ablort-Morgan (Occupational Therapist), Lawrence Tomsic (Recreation Therapist), Ted Alex (Sterilizer), Rebecca Orlino (CRNA), Jann Johnson (Surgeon). (Not Pictured): Rene Clement Vreuls (Lead Pediatrician) and Ellen Adams (PACU Nurse)].
Sisal trees, looking like something out of a Dr. Seuss book, stood proudly under a light pink and blue marshmallow sunrise. Herdsman tended to their flock. Women collected water with buckets from the stream to bring back to their straw thatched huts. Children in vibrant plaid patterned sheets running and twirling in the fields of corn and sunflowers. Darting black and white crows played chicken with us as we drove down the road, while tiny Weaver birds flew next to our window in large groups that undulated like a school of fish. A 400 year old Baobab tree reached for the sky beside a tiny, old shack with a sign “Live for the now”. This is Africa, and it is with mixed emotions that we will leave the landscape and especially the people we have come to love.
In performing a variety of operations on 60 patients during 7 days in the OR, we have come to see and empower the beauty in each patient. As their eyes fill with fear and nervousness before they are shepherded into the operating room and as they smile, unbelieving at first, when they wake up in the PACU- we see our own humanity in these vulnerable moments we have gotten to share with them.
When you shoot photos, you look for the authentic majesty in each subject- not societally prescribed beauty- but the unique aura that each living thing radiates. You also look for the relatable humanity, the essence or emotion that everyone can connect to. Like the child throwing water up into the air to let the drops rain down on his, eyes closed, heaven-turned smiling face. And it is in looking with these kinds of eyes that you fall in love with everything around you.