Archive for the ‘Portraits’ Category

Starting at the end

In fotocare, India, Kolkata, Portraits on December 26, 2014 at 3:41 am

It’s December 26th, 2014 at 11:54 am. I’m sitting in the hotel in Goa, India. I’m listing to Alt-J (really been enjoying this band) I’ve been in India for close to 5 weeks. The shooting is done now. It had been my hope to update this blog during my time here but of course you know the saying about “best laid plans” So with limited internet access I was only occasionally able to sign on and grab some email, upload some Instagram photos. I’m here thanks to the support of the 96 amazing people that contributed to my Indiegogo campaign.

The goal was to to show how the migrant sugarcane worker is commoditized and marginalized while the factory owners, farmers and factory workers thrive. There is no doubt that I was able to show that. However I was presented with another side that I had not considered. This other side gave me pause because more so then ever before I realized I had the power to edit this story in a way that could affect how it’s viewed. On one hand I could show how these migrant workers really have it bad. The challenge for me is that I can also and quite easily show how they are doing very well. Especially compared to other people in the towns and villages that they come from. Places like Beed, India.

So what is the right thing to do? The more I looked into this the more I was left to draw my own conclusions about what is going on here and then dare I say how it should be? I am well aware of how people from the west come into some place with all the answers. Basing issues and problems on how we see it. Giving little to no thought as to how the people in question would actually thrive or at the very least could have their lives improved. I have seen firsthand how the gov’t in Australia stepped into Elcho Island and changed the lives of it’s inhabitants for the worse based on what it thought was best without really taking into consideration what the Aboriginals of the island would want.

So that being said I’m not going to say what I think is best for these people. I don’t know what the right answer is. My photos that will be coming soon to a website will hopefully show the good, the bad and ugly but most important I hope they show the truth. I will add words where I think it will help give clarity.

I think the key thing here is not to compare ones self with another. Be that with wealth, status or power. All we can do is take our own situations and try to improve upon them. There is no doubt that in the sugarcane industry of India, that is exactly what is happening. One viewing the images from the outside could easily say that some individuals are not getting a fair shake while others are profiting disproportionally and that would totally be true. However, by looking deeper one (me) could see that thanks to the opportunities provided by the sugarcane industry there are groups of people (families) that are able to make a living where once there was none. Many are thriving while some will never fully exploit the opportunity they are getting.

The industry is essentially made up of a many working parts. At the top you have the factory, they process the raw sugarcane and within a number of hours turns it into sugar as we know it. There is the farmer, who owns the land and grows the cane. These individuals are generally considered wealthy especially by the local standards. Often the land has been passed down through generations. There are migrant workers who come and harvest the cane from the farmers field. They transport the cane to the factory on wagons connected to Ox carts or larger tractors. Then there are the middle men (Pimps) these people are responsible for finding the migrant workers (called gangs) and sorting out the working arrangements. They are paid by the factory to find the gangs. Then they pay the gangs while skimming a % off the top. They also get paid for finding the gangs in the first place. So essentially they are getting paid from both sides.

1) Factories

2) Farmers (own the land to grow the sugarcane)

3) Migrant farmers (harvest the cane and deliver to the factory)

4) Middle men (arrange for the migrant farmers to come to the farms to harvest the cane)

That is the basic way things play out here. This blog is not designed to go into extreme detail about how it all goes down as that is what the website will show. With this blog I will be showing some images and basically giving my free flowing run at the mouth take on my trip. However, I wanted to lay it out here so you understand the basic how’s and why’s of the people I talk about.

I did a lot of traveling on this project. I started in Mumbai and then went to Bagalkort then drove to Mudhol and spent some time in Bijapur, Bangalore. All of these towns are in the Karnataka province.

I want to make something very clear.  I would not be here if not for the support of the Indiegogo contributors but once I made it to India there is one person who’s help was simply so far over and above what anyone could expect. Without her help I would not have had access to a Sugarcane factory, an interpreter, hotels, drivers and food. So essentially everything. Sunitha Jagannath has been like a mother for me here even though we are essentially the same age. I’m so indebted to her it’s not even funny. Sunitha works for KHPT and I met her two years ago when I was shooting for UN Women. Check out KHPT and see what amazing work they do. The other person I wanted to thank was a man called Panduranga Biradar (Pandu) he is the Head Of R&D at Nandi Sugarcane Factory. This man gave me unprecedented access to the factory and as a result to the migrant workers. He actually gave me a motorcycle to ride around and use to meet workers and even tour the inner workings of the factory. He also allowed me to stay at the guest house for free for over a week. They fed me the most authentic south Indian food and even allowed me to try to make chapati (I failed miserably). When I needed to come back for another day a week later he was more than open to helping me and even said I could stay for a few extra days. Again no doubt I would not have been able to accomplish this story without him. He took the time to show me how they are working on a better irrigation system to create a larger yield of cane that would in turn mean more money for the farmers and the migrant workers who harvest the cane. It was with him that I had to reassess my idea of what was going on at the factory. Not to imply it’s all golden but it was certainly worth more consideration on my part.

I also want to take a moment to thank the amazing sponsors (in no particular order) who helped me with gear for this project. Without them I would not have been able afford to do this story. Their gear is amazing and their help is even more. Supporting photographers to help tell stories that can affect change should not be ignored!!

Fotocare NYC If you need to buy or rent gear, you can’t go wrong!! The unending support from Linda, Fred and Jeff. I’m more grateful than you will ever know!

Manfrotto USA Thanks to Shanna for an amazing carbon tripod and head as well as a Metz flash.

XP Photo Gear Thanks to Xavier for the beautiful small soft boxes that create amazing quality of light from an on camera flash.

Tamrac camera bags Thanks to Spencer, my back thanks you for providing me with an amazing backpack/wheelie bag. It held more than I could carry!

Joby Thanks to Zach for the amazing little gorilla tripod and funky ways to connect my GoPro to just about anything.

Lexar Thanks for the memories!! I wish I could put one of your cards in my brain.

Peak design Thanks to Adam! I honestly was not sure how I would use this product but then I started and could not believe how helpful and cool it was!

Zacuto Thank you Rachel: Made my video taking so much easier. If you are serious about shooting motion with a DSLR then you don’t want to be without some of their products.

Blundstone Boots Okay they don’t sponsor me in anyway shape or form (I have never asked) but these are the best boots and really only boots I wear pretty much all day everyday. With them on I feel like I can walk on or through just about anything and now I need to get a new pair because they are worn out but worn out with love!

Okay, I think that’s a good background to this project.


P.S. Oh you wanted to see some pictures? okay here are a few 🙂 SO much more to come.

This is where it all begins.

This is where it all begins.

This is a farmer. He owns the land that the cane grows on.

This is a farmer. He owns the land that the cane grows on.

Migrant sugarcane worker.

Migrant sugarcane worker.

There is no age discrimination for migrant workers.

There is no age discrimination for migrant workers.

A few tons of cane ready to go to the factory for processing.

A few tons of cane ready to go to the factory for processing.

Tons of cane is dumped on to conveyor belts that run 24hrs a day.

Tons of cane is dumped on to conveyor belts that run 24hrs a day.

Factory workers at the Nandi Sugarcane factory.

Factory workers at the Nandi Sugarcane factory.

Sugar, that's what this is all about.

Sugar, that’s what this is all about.

Sugar into the bags

Sugar into the bags

Me going to work. Didn't want you to think I was calling it in. Go Leafs!

Me going to work. Didn’t want you to think I was calling it in. Go Leafs! (Rope on bag is to secure it to motorcycle).

It’s still Dec 26th/2014 but now it’s 2:01 pm


Sex Workers (Devadasi) in the Karnataka region, ATM coming soon.

In Documentary work, India, Karnataka Health Promotion Trust, Portraits, Sex Workers, Tamracphoto, Travel, UN Trust Fund To End Violence Against Women on December 9, 2012 at 11:17 am

With the tripod finally fixed I could focus on my next assignment. I would be travelling from Bangalore in the Karnataka region of India. This part of the trip would require an overnight train. I have to say I was a little excited about this train although at the same time perhaps a bit nervous. I had heard of many train “incidents” in India and of course I did not want to be part of one.

Before I was going anywhere I would meet the team of the KHTP. This is an amazing NGO that has done so much for AIDS prevention and awareness. Having been funded by the UN as well as The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation they are one of the most successful NGO’s around, in fact what they have learnt about AIDS prevention and education has been picked up by other countries and organizations. Ironically they have done such a good job that they have essentially put a large part of themselves out of business. Since they have been so successful in what they do, the new AIDS cases have fallen and education is up. Still there is a lot of work to do.

The KHPT offices in Bangalore, India

The KHPT offices in Bangalore, India

Sex workers will be my focus for the coming days. These sex workers are subjected to violence and harassment from different people and not always the obvious ones. It is most often from family members as well as police vs. their clients.

After our meeting and briefing about the project it was back to the guesthouse to freshen up.  Once I was fresh (whatever that means) we went back to the office and headed out to the train station for the overnight train to the town of Hubli. From Hubli we would meet our driver to take us to the Bagalkote district. Once in this area we would travel to small villages such as Mudhol/Jamkhandi and Taluk. The drive from Hubli in darkness was a bit scary since our driver was moving along at a pretty good clip. Seems like they just don’t like to be held to the designated lane so even with no obvious reason (to me) he would drive in the on coming lane.  Up until this drive I had not actually seen any accidents but on this road we did see a pretty bad accident involving a tractor and a truck. I was assured people had been killed!

Hubli Station after the 12 hour overnight train.

Hubli Station after the 12 hour overnight train.

Eventually we made it to the Mudhol were we would be staying in a hotel and I use “hotel” loosely. It was like so many of these little towns; very congested with cars, trucks, Tuk Tuk’s bikes and motorcycles. Of course this had its fair share of cows as well.

Screen Shot 2012-12-09 at 10.56.35 AM

Later that day we went to the CAPWS (Chaitanya AIDS Prevention Women’s Sangha) this is where the sex workers support each other and offer information for AIDS prevention as well as support for violence that may be perpetrated against them. I met some amazing women here who must provide all the money for their families through sex work. Often nobody else will work. The family will take the money made by the sex worker and use it to drink or whatever else they like. The family feels it’s the job of that person to support the family through sex work. The sex workers are called Devadasi.

Often these sex workers are alcoholics and very sad. Through their loneliness  they will eventually find themselves involved with one of their customers. This person is called the IP intimate partner and often this IP has a wife and family as well. Even though this IP is married they will maintain a relationship with the sex worker for years. Ironically becoming jealous if they are working in the very job that had allowed the two of them to meet. This often leads to abuse both physical and mental. Since most of the women are illiterate KHPT has created an ingenious way for the workers to communicate in writing and pictures what kind of abuse and from whom they have received it from. These pink cards have been incredibly helpful.

The Pink Card

The Pink Card

It’s a complicated relationship between the worker and the IP. Since the women are so desperate for some kind of love and attention they often put up with abuse. These woman are abused by all sides, from family, the police their IP’s. It’s important to remember that even though sex work is not illegal it is looked down upon.

Screen Shot 2012-12-09 at 10.31.08 AM

Screen Shot 2012-12-09 at 10.46.20 AM

Still in these hard times the woman have set up support communities and even a bank to loan money and encourage savings. They raise families pay their taxes and generally contribute to society. In fact one of the homes that I saw would have been a great place to live even by NY standards.

Screen Shot 2012-12-09 at 10.45.02 AM

Screen Shot 2012-12-09 at 10.45.17 AM

Just for a little clarity they can have as many as 5 partners per day. Tough life and yet they still manage to sing and smile. I found these women to be very nice and sweet despite what they face on a daily basis. I even had some offers for FREE!!!

Some other things I saw on this part of the journey was the migrant workers who spend months on end camped out in the shadow of a huge sugar cane factory or cement factory. I was a bit nervous about going into their tent city and asking to take photos but of course like so many places when they saw the camera they lit up. Here are a few images from that time.

Our driver going to town on some sugar cane.

Our driver going to town on some sugar cane.

Boiling the sugar cane.

Boiling the sugar cane.

Migrant worker

Migrant worker

Migrant worker family

Migrant worker family

South to Bangalore and the kindness of strangers!

In Giving Back, Kindness of Strangers, Portraits, Travel, UN Trust Fund To End Violence Against Women on December 1, 2012 at 5:49 am

I woke up early, 4am for my flight to Bangalore, the streets were empty so the drive was easy. The driver also knew how to get to the airport in Delhi so that made the commute that much easier. One of my concerns for this trip was that all of my traveling schedules were very tight with very little room for mistakes. Those mistakes could be coming from me, the drivers, the airlines, airports, trains, demonstrations or who knows what.

Although I had a bit of help with a band-aid fix to the tripod it was far from fixed. The bolt holding the head on was about 3cm shorter than it needed to be so it kept falling off. My number one priority was to try and get this thing fixed. I was thinking I can go to a camera shop, Think FotoCare in NYC or PIX in LA. A place that would have gear and the expertise to fix a little thing like this bolt. Problem is I could not find one for the life of me. Lucky for me my driver who was part of the Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (more about these amazing people soon) used to be a mechanic and would stop at nothing to help me get this fixed. He mentioned that the threads were not the normal type they use in India and that they were wider apart. So we set about looking for a tool and die guy to actually cut a new bolt. We went from place to place. All found on these little roads with 125cc motorbikes zipping up and down. At each location we were told that it could not be done or that the guy who MIGHT be able to fix it was not in and would not be back for a few days. I was starting to give up hope when we went to one last guy (don’t you love how it’s always one last guy?) Anyway we show up at Deen Cine Engineers (Manufacturers of Projectors, S P Machines, Tube, Bottle Filling Reduction Gear Box, Garments Machine Components, Precision Turning, Milling, Slotting, Gear Works) No joke that is what is on the card! I’d give you the address but just email me if you need it.

Screen Shot 2012-12-01 at 4.32.41 PM

Anyway after a little chat with the owner and my showing him the bolt he says he can do it. He says it will take around 30 min. I figure sure why not. I should say that this guy had a machine shop that was about 200 square feet and it was packed with about 5-7 large machines of which I have no idea what they are called.

Screen Shot 2012-12-01 at 4.31.49 PM

There was curled pieces of mettle all over the place and the smell of grease. He had an upstairs loft that I suppose was his office. He took the bolt and used some precision measurement tools and then asked me what I wanted to make it out of? I asked what it was currently made of and he said brass but that brass was very weak. Of course I wondered why Induro tripods would use a bolt  made of brass. He suggests stainless steel and says that it is much stronger and would not break, I say sure, go for it. Next thing I know he pulls this little cylinder shaped piece of mettle from some place. He places it on the die cutting machine (I think that is what it’s called) and spins it up.

Screen Shot 2012-12-01 at 4.34.27 PM

Screen Shot 2012-12-01 at 4.29.56 PM

He starts to shave it down to the right diameter. Little by little it starts to get to the right shape. Once it’s the right diameter he starts to slowly cut the thread into it. This particular bolt actually has two sizes built into it so it can fit different sized tripod openings in cameras. So from the one piece he cut the two sizes. After about 35 min he took the new bolt off the machine and screwed it right into the tripod. Perfect fit right out of the gate, it went in and held the head safely and securely to the body of the tripod! This was VERY cool. Here is a guy who does not know me from Adam and takes about 40 min out of his day to make me one little bolt. Normally he would not even take a job unless it was for hundreds of units. I can’t thank him enough. He was even kind enough to let me shoot him while he was doing this and then signed a model release so I have the opportunity to use the images for stock. The problem I now realize was that this supposedly great iPhone model release program called iD Release has decided not to save the releases I worked so hard to input. I offered to pay him but he would not accept. What can I say other than this was a very generous man and it really was like so many people that I met in India. They were all so warm and helpful.

I left with the tripod fixed and ready to take longer exposure shots that I just knew were coming my way soon enough.


Side note, this iD Release app is junk! it has now let me down for the second time. I can’t find half of the releases I had inputted into the machine. If having a model release is important to you than avoid this one at all costs!


Beauty, yeah I can do that!

In Beauty, Portraits on June 29, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Well as some of you know I shoot a lot of different things. I have shot celebrities, musicians, advertising and documentary work. What you may not know is that I have also shot a fair amount of beauty. I have not shown these images before because I simply did not want to confuse the people who hire me with yet another side of my work. However, the time is at hand for me to show this work. I’m proud of it and hopefully you will all like it as well. Let me know your thoughts.




David Goldman Reveals Story Behind The ‘Enema Of The State’ Shoot (PHOTOS)

In Musicians, Portraits, Uncategorized on June 4, 2012 at 4:46 pm

David Goldman Reveals Story Behind The ‘Enema Of The State’ Shoot (PHOTOS)

It’s been so long since I wrote anything in this blog that wordpress has totally changed the interface of the system. Ooh that is not a good thing for me. Last week I was made aware of a link about Janine Lindemulder who was the model I used for the Blink 182 Enema Of the State album cover back in 1999. Turns out time has not been great to her. I was a bit pissed that they showed the photo I took and it was all over the web. When the Huffington Post ran the photo they simply credited Amazon.com as if Amazon took the photo. So I contacted Kia Makarachi and he was kind enough to make the change to the credit and then asked me if I wanted to or minded being interviewed to ask about the shoot etc. I said sure and just the other day we spoke for a few minutes about the shoot and what I have been doing since and what my expectations would be after creating an image like that. Anyway it’s all here in the link, give it a read let me know what you think.


Asking for a little but getting so much more.

In 60 Minutes, Portraits on July 20, 2011 at 11:02 pm

It’s been a while since I updated this blog, especially the 60 minutes images. It’s been a while because, well it’s been a while for me to actually photograph everyone. As of now I have photographed just about all the correspondences. With only Katie Couric (although she is no longer at 60 min) to go. I should have this done in June. That would make it just about a year from when I first photographed Bob Simon.  It has been a bit on the laborious side of things, not to mention expensive. Since up to now I had only been able to photograph one person at a time. However that all changed a couple of weeks ago when I went in to photograph Steve Kroft. I had been talking with his assistant Allie for what seemed like forever when suddenly I got the approval to photograph him. My usual assistants were not available and that was a bummer. However I was so lucky to find Peter through a friend named Dana. Peter was made to work like crazy that day but he also got a lesson in being ready that you don’t often get. As I’m photographing Steve, Jeff Fager walks in and in a pissed off kind of voice asks what’s going on? turns out he was only joking. It also turns out he is the Chairman of CBS News and the Executive Producer of 60 Minutes. This was the guy I wanted to make friends with if ever there was. He was very cool and seemed very interested in what I was doing and asked if I would mind photographing him. I was more then happy to do it. In his office he has the famous photo of Bobby Orr flying through the air and that can only mean one thing and that is he is a hockey fan. I tell him I’m from Toronto and he knew the rest. We talked hockey, news and his pride in his sons photo career. He then showed me the framed keys to Saddam Hussein’s house. Turns out he got them for being in first. WOW is what I was thinking and WOW is what I said. Very cool. After I photographed Jeff he asked me who else I wanted to shoot. I told him I would love to photograph Lara Logan. He says “You are in luck, she is in the building, I’ll get her up here. Who else?” I say Scott Pelley as it’s Scot that is taking over for Katie Couric. No problem he says and gets on the phone to call Scott up. what a day!!.

I started writing this post about a month ago and it’s mid July/11 now. Since the writing I photographed Lesley Stahl and just last week photographed Anderson Cooper as well. The kindness of everyone has been simply amazing from Jeff Fager to Lara Logan. Assistants, and correspondents have all helped to give me the opportunity to capture some truly extraordinary people who work on a true American treasure of a show.

There are some potentially amazing things that might come from this adventure, none of them I’m at liberty to talk about yet but fingers crossed and…….

Getting Andy

In 60 Minutes, Documentary work, Portraits on March 10, 2011 at 9:02 am

Last week thanks to the help of Morley Safer I was able to secure a portrait session with Andy Rooney. I will be doing the shot on the 25th of March but here is a little taste from the location scout. Always be prepared kids!!

The answer is definitely not blowing in the wind

In Australia, Documentary work, Portraits on February 23, 2011 at 3:42 am

Today in Elcho I spent about 3 hours talking to some of the elders about what THEY need vs what the Australian Gov’t thinks they need. Turns out it’s quite different. These people used to hunt, fish and fend for themselves. Now the gov’t just gives them money twice a month but without jobs or really much going on the money has little to no value. Gambling sometimes as much as $14,000.00 at a pop on cards is pretty good proof of that. There is hope though. A farm sits waiting to be cultivated to grow papaya, bananas and other assorted healthy food that can give this community some of it’s old pride back. Pride in ownership. Everyday I’m learning more but if they can get that farm back up then they can give some of the young people job. It would also save a lot of money from imported fruit, not to mention the waste of energy to actually bring this fruit from New Zealand. Oh and with fruit they may spend less on all the coke and chocolate that is so easy to get that is destroying their teeth and health.  I’ll let you all know as I learn more.

Australia, what am I doing here?

In Australia, Documentary work, Portraits, Travel on February 22, 2011 at 9:35 am

It seems as though I only just got back from Ethiopia and now here I am down under but at the top of Australia. Not even on the mainland anymore. I’m here on Elcho Island in the Northern Territory. This is some serious bush, not circa 1970’s playboy but more like crocs, snakes, bugs and all kinds of humidity and heat. I’m here with the Parfitt family. Thanks to Matt Parfitt who is the goalie on my hockey team. Matt’s brother Ben and family live here while Ben is a “copper”on Elcho. He is one of only 4 cops on an Island with about 2000 aboriginal inhabitants. There has been a lot of changes up here in the last bunch of years some good and some bad so it’s the job of the cops to make sure things are running smooth and to help maintain this island as a dry one. There are some great artists here Judy, Richard, Mavis to name a few. They have already been kind enough to let me follow them around and show me the ways of their art. The history here is long and the connection to the land is not so different to First Nations people in Canada and Native Americans. I’ve only started to shoot some shots here but I’m very happy with what is happening. There appears to be a lot of poverty here but it turns out money is not the problem at all……..


Getting Home: Day 3 Home at last.

In Documentary work, Ethiopia, Giving Back, Portraits, Travel on December 11, 2010 at 4:32 am

I’m not even sure how many km we have driven in the last four days, it must be close to 1000 for sure. Most of it on the dirt and broken roads that lead away from the “modern” city of Addis Ababa to the remote villages of Bale. The transformation of the girls as we have begun to actually understand each other even though we speak foreign languages is really amazing. They started off shy and reserved but now are talking and chirping away like little birds. Kemeru is always trying to take my camera off my shoulders to photograph me Ponzi or Kedira although she seems to have a bit of a problem holding the camera straight. I think given the opportunity she might be a good photographer but opportunities like that are simply never going to happen.

The last couple of hours were very slow going as our driver eased the truck into 4×4 to crawl over the steep rocky and sandy non-roads that lead to the villages. We are always passing donkeys carrying the ubiquitous yellow jerry cans that hold water. If they are lucky it’s a donkey doing the lifting but more often then not it’s a woman (never a man) with a full jug on their backs

We finally pull in to the first town. I’m not really sure what’s going on as we stop in the center of town. In a matter of seconds the truck is surrounded by tons of kids and adults. They first just stare at us but then I start to hand out pencils and they are a great ice breaker and a huge hit with the kids, I quickly realize I need to break them in half to make sure more kids get one.

Both of the girls get out and Kedira is the first girl to make contact with a relative. I find out it’s her nephew as she gives him a gentle touch on the face and kiss. He leads her into a hut and then what turns out to be her sister comes out. They greet each other with multiple kisses on each cheek then they each kiss the others hand three or four times. It was a really sweet thing to see. After a few minutes of this we realize that in fact we are not even in Kedira’s village  and that we were actually there to pick up a local guy who could guide us to the village that is another hour into the hills.

Unfortunately by now it’s getting dark and I can no longer shoot with much luck. I manage to get a few portraits of Kedira’s family but that’s about it. However what happened in the dark was absolutely amazing. After a tour of the village and meeting the elders including her at least 70-year-old husband (she is 20) we were getting ready to leave when she asked us to stay in the village and in the morning take Kemeru back to her village. This way we could have coffee and spend just a bit more time together. I was all into it but I guess our driver had other ideas feeling that we should get back to the mid village point and sleep there. Then all hell broke loose, Kedira began to cry and act like a spoiled child because she jumped in the truck and was refusing to leave. Meanwhile I was told they were bringing a goat with a gift. Turns out the goat was the gift!. One of the older men comes from behind the truck holding a fat brown goat by its ear and then passes on to me.  I had no idea what to do with this goat but I knew it was a great honor to be given it. So they hog tied the thing and hoisted up on to the truck and then tied it down. All I could hear was the baa baa of the poor little fella, he was scared. We finally headed out with some very sad goodbyes. I was really moved by this and was not expecting to be so affected by it. I was happy to know that these girls would be friends for life but wondered what the story would be for Kedira and her old man husband.

We turned around and headed back to the midpoint village to sleep with the crying goat on the roof. We arrived in town to find the only hotel (if you can call it that) was all sold out. Our guide invited us to stay in his hut. I gave him the goat since I was not sure how much Delta charges for extra luggage and did not want to be stuck at the airport with a goat. The guys killed and ate the goat and I watched to whole thing. It was not nearly as gross as I thought it would be but I can tell you that they could sure use a sharpening stone as this goat did not go easy. I woke up early to the sound of roosters as usual but as I was getting my boots on to go outside and pee I almost fell over. I was dizzy like I had been drinking all day but of course I had not had a drink in a few days. As I lay back in the bed I could not shake the sense of dizziness and was wondering what the hell was going on. I started to count in my head by 4’s to see if I could do it. I could and then it occurred to me that I had been exposed to carbon monoxide since they were cooking the goat in the hut all night. As soon as I figured that out I threw my boots back on and got the hell out of that hut. I was feeling better when we headed off to take Kemeru back to her village.

When we showed up at Kemeru village it was like the golden child had come home. There were so many people that came out of the huts to greet her. We were later told that they never thought they would ever see her again and that she was sure to die. She could not even get out of the truck before person after person came up to her and kissed and hugged her. Of course she grabbed my camera again to show off how good she was with it.

We got the tour and then Ponzi sat Kemeru down to do an interview. She asked about her experience with fistula and how she was treated as well as how the conditions in her village are for handling that kind of thing. One of the main things Ponzi is focusing on is the need for clean water for childbirth. It seemed like there were around 65 people gathered around us for the interview. Once that was done it was time for Coffee. Kemeru was going to show us the famous coffee ceremony. She basically had a huge mortar and pestle.  She would raise the huge mortar or is that the pestle? Anyway up it went and then crashing down to pulverize the coffee beans. Every now and again she would stop and smell the grounds making sure it was the right aroma. When it was finally right they poured us the most amazing coffee I had ever had and since there was no sugar they used honey. The honey was not the kind you find in a little plastic bear. It was totally raw and was full of sediment. I had to use my teeth as a strainer to catch it all then I would just spit it out. It left my throat burning but it was good.

Finally it was time to leave as we had a very long ride back to Addis and then a flight to Bahir Dar to catch up with the rest of the SalaamGarage folks. There were big hugs and kisses and then we were off. I was sad again and I could not help wondering what would become of these two young women who have changed my life forever. I realize I will probably never see them again in this life. Theirs is not an easy one. I did not see a lot of old woman in Ethiopia in fact I did not see a lot of old people in general.

This story is about survival and the journey home and yet I wonder can you ever really go home? After seeing what they saw in Addis with modern technology and healthy food. I feel like they have been transported back in time by about 150 years.

I do know that they are much more prepared to have a child now and to make sure they do not run into the same problems with fistula as the last time. They will spread the word so that other woman do not lose their babies and go through what they went through. Surgery is only a band-aid to the fistula problem. The way to prevent it is with midwives and proper medical attention before it’s too late.

With the help of the Hamlin Fistula hospital and all the people that are reading this blog and passing it hopefully like in the developed nations Fistula can be eradicated from the face of the earth for good.

So that is the end of the journey or maybe it’s just the beginning?

Thanks for reading my words (bad grammar and all) and for those that made a donation to help me help these young woman I am forever grateful and although they don’t know it Kedira and Kemeru would be so very thankful as well.

If you would still like to make a donation to help with this trip you can do it with this PayPal link or via the SocialWish page.