At the time I said NO photos!

Looking back now I am glad people didn’t listen and did record the event as trying to explain this to anyone would not have the impact of the photos and the video below.

Yes thats me on the bed being carried like the Queen of Sheba minus the fanning and a little less enjoyable due to the pain I was in.

What was I doing you ask?

The story isn’t that exciting. I was on a school trip and this happened on the second day visit to a school where our students were working on the foundations of a classroom and doing activities with the kids at the local school. You can see more images of those images here

I slipped in the mud on a bank while I was reaching for some of the kids phones I was going to get out of the rain. The rest is history as they say… snapped ligaments and a couple of fractures later, a short surgery, a couple of pins and a cast and boot for 3 months!

At the time this was the most embarrassing moment of my life being the center of attention and having to be carried out of the village on someones bed from their home which they connected some wood to the ends in order to carry me.  However, after the diagnosis I didn’t feel as embarrassed about the experience. It seems to have provided my friends with a lot of entertainment so thought I would share it publicly…

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This is the reality for many people living in rural areas where there is no access  to the road. I have seen many people being carried in Rwanda and other countries where medical resources are limited. Was certainly appreciative of the kindness of strangers helping the ferengi out of the village! Wait till I return!

 

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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

 

Smiles that make you smile

Well these two just make me look good… I shot these yesterday here in Rwanda of a couple of wee boys who have a great time together.

One of the boys Mum’s studies and works at No.41 (more about them soon) so he gets to spend the day hanging out with his buddy Mo and his Mum who made the shoot a lot easier with her behind me antics (she worked up a sweat!)… aren’t they gorgeous happy boys?!

Because I'm happy!

Because I’m happy!

 

Oh hey!

Oh hey!

 

It comes naturally

It just comes naturally

 

Bubbles = happiness

Bubbles = happiness

 

As I look forward I glance back…

So its about to happen… I am moving!

Well to be honest I haven’t really been settled anywhere for the past 2 years and have essentially lived out a of a backpack with no fixed abode – its been an adventure! Moving somewhere new isn’t a huge drama – except those loved ones you leave behind each time. I am incredibly excited to be moving to Ethiopia and building a new place to call home. For now just a weeks stopover to meet some amazing colleagues, a new school, position & start setting big goals for the year. Then back to Rwanda for the remainder of summer before settling into life in Ethiopia in late July!

I thought I would dig up a couple of old images from the time I spent traveling to see a small part of Ethiopia in 2010 which blew me away! As you can imagine I am looking forward to get back to the rich culture, amazing food and people and throw myself into everything the country has to offer and learn so much more. I hope over the coming months and years I can break down some of the misconceptions you may have about Ethiopia and the images that come to mind when you think of this part of Africa.

I will start here…

Cool shades

Creativity & entrepreneurial – handmade & for sale – cool shades!

Tucked away after a climb up a huge cliff to a church in a cave...

Tucked away in a hidden cave… in the hands of an 80 year old who climbed like spiderman up the cliff

Stepping into the light

Stepping into the light from a church in Lalibela

Beautiful children

Beautiful children in the golden end of day light

Taking a break

Taking a break

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On a journey

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Can’t wait to step away from the ‘tourist’ type shots and show you some everyday Ethiopia!

Seeing is Believing – Eye Care in Kenya

In September last year I joined a Hope Global team from Australia who had come to Kenya to work with Early Childhood teachers and also screen students for any eye problems which were potentially causing learning and/or behavioural issues in the classroom. Some educational sessions were done with students and teachers on eye care/ health and initial eye testing was completed. I was fortunate to be able to return to Kenya a month later to help coordinate and document some of the children’s journeys through surgery.

Pick me

Pick me

In classrooms we saw students eager to learn and contribute to discussions. However, we also found a lot of the children with eye problems had not talked to their teachers about the challenges they had and were sitting at the back of the classroom unable to see.

Group work

Group work

While identifying the eye issues was one factor we soon realised that there was a huge education piece missing in terms of eye care and health that needed to be integrated in all schools.  There were also some myths and cultural beliefs surrounding the treatment available that had caused some small eye problems to become big issues that were too late for treatment.

Testing

Vision screening

Eye testing made fun

Eye testing made fun

Cataracts

There were also some older community members who came to have their eyes tested.

Many of the elderly patients had cataracts which can be fixed with a quick and simple procedure. Although the surgery is performed regularly and has an incredibly high rate of success the patients were still scared of having it done. They believed that they would have their eyes replaced by pigs and a also faced huge fear of going blind from the surgery without considering if they didn’t have surgery they would eventually go blind.

Testing

Eye checks

A young teacher watches on as one of her students is seen by a doctor from Sabatia Eye Hospital at a screening session in the community.

Simple treatment

Simple treatment

Some of the students had simple allergies and were able to head home with just eye drops.

Sabatia Eye testing

Back at Sabatia Eye Hospital  testing

Further testing was performed back at Sabatia Eye Hospital a non profit eye hospital in Vihiga County North of Kisumu which specialises in eye care.  

Eye testing

Eye testing at Sabatia Eye Hospital

This was incredible to watch unfold… she exclaimed in a completely bewildered voice “I can see!” once she had the right glasses fitted. Her mother burst into tears.

Waiting pre surgery

Mothers and their children waiting for surgery

Surgery prep

Surgery prep.

A young boy watches as the needle goes into his hand pre surgery. He had no idea what was happening and was not happy when he felt the needle inserted but kept watching with interest despite the pain.

Surgery

Surgery at Sabatia Eye Hospital

Incredible precision in eye surgery. A visiting doctor observes as the surgeon performs ‘sight’ saving surgery on a young patient.

Surgery

One of the children about to undergo cataract surgery at Sabatia Eye Hospital

Recovery

Post surgery recovery

In recovery

Nurses monitor the patients in recovery

Leaving surgery

Many patients waiting for their surgery as a nurse transports one of the children back to the ward.

Meds

The medical supply cabinet

Treatment is only as good as the post operation care which has to be explained in detail to caregivers in order for the surgery to be a complete success and for patients to avoid infection.

Too late

Too late

This teenage boy has a piece of debris removed from his eye which has been lodged in there for 5 years. He mentioned he had eye pain since something had flung into his eye years earlier when he was playing with friends. The optometrist removed it within a few seconds through a simple procedure (pictured here). While he is now pain free, if he had treatment when it first occurred he would likely still have his vision in this eye. Access & health education are still a battle facing many in rural areas of Kenya.

A monoclor

Making learning a little easier

A young boy is given a monocular as a short term tool before he gets access to glasses. His reaction from looking through it at the blackboard was priceless and his friends all wanted a turn as well.

Gaining independence

Gaining independence

After years of being restricted and feeling so alone at times this young lady gained back some independence by being shown how to use a walking cane. She took to it so quickly and when I returned a month later expressed such gratitude for the new lease of life she had gained.

Smiles from Tanzania

Last week I traveled to Tanzania helping to lead a group of International School students from Hong Kong on a Service & Cultural Learning experience. We spent time in a school in Njoro Village outside of Arusha, these are some of the beautiful smiling faces we encountered there…

Happiness

Triple Happiness

Hidden smile

Hidden smile

Beauty

Beautiful hidden smile

Pure sweetness

Pure sweetness

Shy but curious

Shy but curious

Friends make you smile

Friends make you smile

Hey!

Hey!

Can we come in?

Can we come in?

More images coming on my Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/TashMcCarrollPhotoPhilanthropy