World Health Project
The first leg of this project took me to Botswana where I lived with Nanke, a San or Bushman women, on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, for 2 months. I pitched my tent beside her tin shack.
The Botswana government has been systematically removing the San from their ancestral homes in the Kalahari, and putting them in resettlement camps where AIDS, TB, malaria, and alcoholism run rampant. Nanke was infected with HIV when she was raped five years ago. Today she’s an alcoholic. She was drunk everyday by noon, and on some days it seemed like quite a reasonable response to her circumstance.
Dislocation and dispossession are major co-factors in the spread of AIDS, and many other diseases. People without homes get sicker than people with homes. And when people get sick they want to go home.
The second leg looks at trachoma in Ethiopia.
001 & 002: On the road to Soddo. Ethiopia leads the world in blindness and eye impairment. Trachoma is endemic in the districts of Soddo, Alaba, and Gurage where these photographs where taken, during December 2006. Hospitals and field clinics are few and far between. While community wells and latrines are continually being dug, many people carry water often many kilometers to their homes.
Trachoma is an ancient disease of poverty and the world’s leading cause of preventable and treatable blindness.
The world health organization estimates 37 million blind people and 124 million visually impaired people worldwide.
MALARIA ON THE THAI BURMA BORDER
In the rainy season, the incidence of malaria soars among difficult to count refugees, migrants, undocumented, and internally displaced: all people condemned to foreign food rations, crowded camps, slavery wages in sweatshops, and garbage.
Nearly 1.5 million people, mostly ethnic people have been uprooted from their homes and land by the Burmese military dictatorship, or they have fled from poverty and 80% unemployment. Many live in border camps like Mae La, 60 km north of Mae Sot, Thailand. Here 50,000 people are dependent upon outside donors for all their needs. They are not allowed to travel or grow food. They are unable to work. “Even the Thai’s restrict the bamboo we can cut for our houses”, my young guide, Hoo, tells me. It is the rainy season. Malaria is endemic. They have all had it. These girls go to school and live in an orphanage dorm, supported by the Umbrella Project, created by two Canadians Kathy and David Downham. Refugees have three options: Stay here, be repatriated to Burma, or maybe be chosen to immigrate to “The West”.