Showing Strength in SEPTEMBER

QUICK BACKSTORY:: We created a 2014 Calendar with 100% of funds going to help rebuild one of the many villages in the Philippines destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013. With the profits from the Calendars and many other amazing peoples generosity we (a big we) have been able to rebuild over a 100 homes and support so many more families… we are now into helping to rebuild a second village where many still need support. These blogs are images (month by month that were used in the Calendar from around the world) to give you some background story and some more food for thought.

STRENGTH… Your ability to rise against all odds and remain strong

Your ability to rise against all odds & remain strong

Your ability to rise against all odds & remain strong

I captured this beautiful strong woman in Rwanda when I decided to team up with a local art gallery and shoot the women who were working making crafts in a workshop attached to the gallery. Over a few afternoons I meet with the ladies set up a sheet and different kitenges as backdrops and shot images of the ladies which we used in a small exhibition on International Women’s Day  to show the strength and resilience women have.

This woman came out and didn’t seem all that keen to have her photo taken.  She had a pouty face and look genuinely pissed off. Through my friend I managed to translate and ask if she didn’t want to participate and that she didn’t have to… I really don’t like people feeling they are forced into something… but she agreed and said she wanted to be part of it!

When I looked through the lens at her I knew she was photogenic… some people just naturally click with the camera and she sure did – super powerful and strong. When she saw the first few photos she relaxed – and as I got to know her over the course of the week printing coming back to hang the photos she eased and I really got to see her strength and power not to mention beauty.

These images are some of the results…

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Opening Hearts in Rwanda

I was incredibly fortunate to be able to join an amazing team visiting Rwanda in October last year. The Healing Hearts Northwest team from the USA is one of four teams that come to Rwanda annually to perform live changing & saving surgery every year. Hearts were opened, repaired and sewn back up… my heart was filled with admiration for a team so committed and talented truly changing lives.

Looking into surgery

Looking into surgery

The visiting team had brought a photographer/ videographer along to document the stories of some of the patients and she was more than happy for me to join her in following the team which I was truly grateful for the opportunity.

Here are just a few images of the amazing work that took places and the hands at work. For patient privacy I have not included any images post op of the women who were incredibly tough and up in moving with in 48 hours of surgery.

Surgery prep

Surgery prep

I learnt a lot about the process of surgery, the different ways surgeons operate and the loving after care that goes into the work. Over 8 days 16 surgeries were performed, sometimes the surgeons were in surgery for 8 hours attempting to first repair a value before having to replace it. They stood in one place for that entire time; no drink, no toilet breaks, in the same spot. I on the other hand sat, stood, walked in and out of the operating room, moved from the foot to the head of the bed, went out for a snack and drink – they stood, worked and problem solved. I was in awe of their work, the way their hands moved, hearts were moved to bypass and then powered back to life.

electrical cutting

The initial incision is made though an electrical cut

Of the patients operated on 14 were women, a lot of them young women who had not yet had families. Why does this matter? In Rwanda (as in many countries) a huge amount of womens value is placed on being able to bare children and have a family. Once someone has their valve replaced then they have to stay on medicine for the remainder of their life, pregnancy can cause blood clotting issues and potential death, therefore it is incredibly risky for women to get pregnant following valve replacement.

First incision is made

The sternum has to be cut through

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Incredible focus for hours

Teamwork

Teamwork at its best

Monitoring

Monitoring

Precision

Precision as the new valve goes into the heart

Many hands doing precise work on the valve

Many hands doing precise work on the valve

Bypass machine

Bypass machine