Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Mother + Daughter, Kisumu, Kenya, 2006

In light of the testimonials being shared most recently through 'me too,' this portrait of mother and daughter is being shared. It was an honor to have heard their story, and a privilege to present it here.

A dozen years ago a connection was made to visit communities in western Kenya. The foundation asked me, "how many people would you like to photograph?" In my nativity, the answer was "as many as possible."

Upon landing, we immediately headed out to photograph a church and a congregation. It was clear to me that we would never run out of people to photograph. We would sometimes arrive at a school, and the teachers would have all of the students line up... well over three hundred students a few times.

So when I was told that we were going to visit a small home, I let out a sigh of relief. Then I was told that we would be visiting with a support group for individuals with HIV/AIDS. This weighed heavily on me, for my mind was on making sure the work lived up to the people being photographed.

When we arrived everyone welcomed us with such warmth, such kindness, that all anxiety melted away. There were perhaps two dozen people in the house. After introductions were made, each person courageously shared their story with us. While the people from the foundation did their best to translate, the tones of the voices as well as the expressions on their faces spoke volumes.

Each spoke while absolute silence prevailed, telling the stories of how they had been affected, of how their husbands had strayed from their marriages and brought the virus back into their beds. It was a deeply moving moment, and left me without words. Perhaps more than the stories, it was how they had told them that struck me. It was as if they had forgiven their husbands, and accepted the cards that they had been dealt. The strength in their presentations was supremely clear, a testament to their intact spirits.

All of this was happening as their children sat at their feet, a visual which stays with me to this day. My eyes moved from the mothers to their children as each spoke, and noticed the bond between them. This I will never forget.

Note: This frame was made with a Hasselblad V system.

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