Moonie’s daughter

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

How a story I’ve been working on, all of a sudden became close and personal… Many of you already know that for the past 7 years I’ve been working on photographing maternal health stories in Pakistan. As a woman, I became interested in photographing the lives of women here and intuitively I ended up working on the theme of motherhood. I saw women give birth in hospitals or in the home of a traditional midwife. I witnessed emergency c-sections, fistula repair operations and surgery on prolapsed uteruses. I traveled all over the country from Karachi, Lahore, the interior of Sindh, the border of Baluchistan, Swat valley and flood camps to the desert areas of Mithi to document various aspects of maternal related issues. The sad fact is that a huge number of women and babies are still dying unneccesarily in Pakistan due to lack of proper healthcare infrastructure, lack of skilled staff, use of traditional customs by dai, remoteness of their village, etc etc… I thought I’d experienced everything, but today has really got me in tears. During this trip, I’m staying with my host family, who all are doctors, mostly gynecologists, and who have been my guide and support in the past years. The experience is and has been heartwarming so far and gave me a totally different view on life here. You become a part of the household and slowly start to get to know the whole family and the staff working here. And the fun thing is that everyone starts to get to know me too. Moonie, our cook, for instance knows of my addiction to the incredibly tasty Pakistani mango by now and with love sets the table and cuts a piece of this delicious fruit for me. 8 days ago though, after breakfast when we were trying to communicate in our simple way, as we both don’t speak each others languages, she was called outside. A family member had come bearing bad news that something happened to her daughter in Hyderabad and that she had to come immediately. Returning in the house, I saw the shock and fear in her eyes as she scrambled to get her things together. Later that day I heard the awful news that her daughter, who was full term pregnant from her 3rd baby, suffered complications and both mother and baby died… I don’t know yet the particulars of what exactly happened, but today as I was sitting on the terrace reading the newspaper, I saw Moonie returning to the house. I followed her in, where we hugged each other. It was an intense and devastating hug, Moonie crying from the depth of her soul… Feeling her pain, I couldn’t stop my tears either… For the first time in all these years, with seeing and experiencing many upsetting moments, this time it really hit home and became real and very personal. The numbers of maternal deaths that pop up in various rapports by ngo’s all of a sudden got new meaning, as one of these numbers now is Moonie’s daughter… In this moment I feel utterly helpless… I’m not able to do anything for Moonie, I’m not even able to communicate and tell her how sorry I am. Yet I hope that all the work I’ve been doing here, will make a difference in the coming years, will educate people about the situation here and will slowly improve the conditions in which women give birth here…

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2 thoughts on “Moonie’s daughter

  1. Dear Wendy, I am so sorry for Moonie’s loss and can feel your heart ache for her in this post. Please know that you are in my thoughts a lot. Best wishes for your important work and may you find little ways to express your feelings to Moonie who seems like such a gentle soul.❤ Much love, S.

    • Dear Sonya, thank you so much dear from your warm lovely words… they mean a lot to me.
      And I’ll surely tell Moonie all about how her loss is touching so many people all around the world.
      She really is an amazing soul and even though we don’t speak each others language, we communicate with our hearts and that really is all that matters in the end. lots of❤ back my friend!

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