This coming Friday, I’ll be talking about my photography and sharing a conversation on photography and why I photograph people with fellow photographers Ali Sultan and Wei Leng Tay at Habib University in Karachi, Pakistan.
From 4pm onwards you’re more then welcome to join us. Habib University, Plot #295, Block 18, Gulistan-e-Juhar, Karachi.
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…
I’m back in Pakistan revisiting some friends and to photograph on some stories that I worked on in the past. The blog will not be much updated as much during this time, but you can always follow me on my instagram feed for an online diary in the meantime and thus get a glimpse of my adventures here. Enjoy!
Warm wishes for the holidays.
However you may celebrate, I hope you’ll be spending some quality time with your family and loved ones.
Her relentless campaign for girls and women’s rights was recognized a day before the International Day of the Girl Child and is an incredible strong signal to the world. Education is and remains key to change.
On my travels in Pakistan and Afghanistan, I’ve met many young brave girls like Malala that, despite the constant threat, defy tribal traditions and seek to be educated. For us in the West, it’s impossible to understand that going to school could mean you get killed by extremists. Yet thousands of girls get up every morning and go to school to become doctors, midwifes, teachers, engineers, etc…
The images below are of Afghanistan, were the educational system was almost completely destroyed by the Taliban.