Saturday, July 26, 2008

What I Love About Print

10 July 2008, Thursday

Small tremor last night at about 9:45 PM. Enough to shake the bed. Not enough to cause any damage. Felt sort of like a huge semi-tractor trailer went by. But of course, that's not possible here. Sat up in bed and my first thought was—but Africa is such a stable continent geologically speaking, it's not supposed to have earthquakes.

Eileen went to the homes of several nurses—Brenda, Monica, Nyayele and Emma—to photograph them while I interviewed Prospeline Chipata, who works in one of the farthest of the health centers that Embangweni supports. She was very shy and I fear that the interview didn't come off all that well. A little like pulling teeth to get her to talk. And of course, she was speaking in English, which is at least a second or third language.

But she's been working in that village for eight years. Unmarried. (Not surprising how many women I have interviewed who are not married or whose children had already grown by the time they came to Embangweni.)

In the middle of the interview, I learned that Prospeline has been trying to get the government to provide free bed nets for people with HIV. When I asked how that was going, she indicated it might take a while—she didn't know. Have noticed this kind of sad fatalism before whenever talk of future plans or potential government help comes up.

Also asked Prospeline to describe one or two patients whom she knows she has helped and felt good about. Her eyes lit up with a quiet pride as she recounted the story of a pregnant woman she had examined, who it turned out was carrying twins. Prospeline was able to refer the woman to Mzimbe District Hospital right away and the woman was successfully delivered of her twins. So the fact that all three are alive and well is more than likely due to Prospeline's actions.

This is what I love about print. You can take someone like Prospeline and make a story out of her—give her more of a voice, even if she doesn't sound that confident on the recording. I managed to take a decent photo of her in the small room off the chapel. A happy accident—using light through the door that bounced off a mostly white wall.
Eileen has taught me to open doors to get more light from outside. And to separate the background from the foreground in portraits. So I had Prospeline sit in the chair a little further away from the wall. Very nice portrait.

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