Tag Archives: Mission Restore

“Disaster Strikes…But What Can I Do?” (Nepal Earthquake)

Planet Earth as a whole is an unbelievably large place; oceans to seas, mountains to plains, cities to villages, it covers nearly 200 million square miles.

Often times when we hear of a tragedy occurring on a different continent or in a different country than ours, it doesn’t have the same effect on us as it does to those living where it happened. This doesn’t mean we’re not paying attention, it doesn’t mean we care less…it’s just simply difficult to be able to see, feel and hear about the various disasters, big or small, that occur around the world on a day to day basis.

 

Yesterday however, for the first time since I can remember, a natural disaster occurred thousands of miles away from me, yet I felt it in my being…the earthquake in Nepal. I was blessed to be able to see Nepal a couple years ago while on assignment with several surgeons and medical staff from Mission: Restore. It is a beautiful country, and the people we encountered there were friendly, generous and hospitable to us every step of the way.

 

As I scanned the internet for more information on what was occurring in the cities I had visited while there (specifically Kathmandu), I came across a photo of Patan Durbar Square, which now lies half in ruin. I had taken a photo in the exact same spot, from the exact same angle that this photographer had taken theirs. The place where I had been standing a few years ago was gone, demolished, covered by brick, stone, mortar and dirt. I stared at this particular photo for a very, very long time. 

(Patan Durbar Square / In 2011, and today)

(Patan Durbar Square / In 2011, and today)

 

I tried to mentally reconstruct the buildings in their entirety as they had been when I was there. I tried to picture myself being there after such a disaster struck, would I be able to help, or would I be as helpless as so many others I had seen in the photo? I then imagined being there moments before the earthquake hit…would I even be alive now?

 

Perhaps distance, time and space is enough to keep us from physically being side by side with others when tragedy strikes, but with today’s technologies, means of transportations and online methods with which to share infromation, we can get to them quicker and help them much faster than we ever could in the past.

 

If you have the means, if you have the resources, if you have the time, share those things…via Mercy CorpsUSAIDDirect ReliefUNICEFHabitat for Humanity and so many others. It doesn’t matter if you only have a couple dollars to send, a tiny little bit of help from billions of others just like you reaches much, much further than you think.

– F

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under On Assignment, The Good In Mankind

“The 37 Year Old Virgin……To Surgery.”

The first surgery I ever witnessed will live in my memories until the day I die.

190290_10150132378912118_4325342_n

However short it may be, that simple sentence in and of itself describes the entire experience. First and foremost, most people on the planet don’t get to witness surgeries. It’s generally a sight reserved for those that have the knowledge and training required to perform or assist with surgeries. Of course, in this day and age there are videos and tv shows and various other media at hand with which to watch recordings of surgeries. But to be able to stand in a room where another human being is being, in one way or another, taken apart and reassembled?

No, most people don’t get to see that.

The person I was about to watch go ‘under the knife’ was slightly younger than your average patient…3 years old to be exact. She had slipped into a fire pit after awaking in the middle of the night in a tiny village miles away from a tiny town in a country with over a billion people in it. With no medical care readily available and no money to seek any out, her entire left leg had burned, curled and fused itself to itself. The once separate foot, ankle, shin and thigh were now nearly one mass.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

I remember the sight of the sleeping, naked, burned little being in front of me. I remember this machine beeping, that machine hissing, another moving up and down and another providing vital signs. I remember the smell, temperature and taste of the room. I say taste because four of my senses were so in tune with the overall quiet, sterile calmness of the room that my taste buds began to follow suit in their perception of it all. I remember a surgeon asking me if I’d “ever seen a surgery”, to which I calmly answered “um, no”. I remember a second surgeon giving me quick instructions on what to do should I become faint or lightheaded, something along the lines of “sit on the floor” or “try not to fall on the patient” followed by “you can wait outside if you need to”.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

Come to think of, I had never considered what my body might do upon witnessing such a sight. I had never considered that accepting a job as a photographer for a group of international surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and support staff halfway around the world might land me in the middle of a real life surgery. I knew that I’d be covering their day to day life during a their travels to countries I had never seen. I knew that would obviously entail documenting sights, sounds and experiences that I had never beheld. But I never thought in my wildest dreams that they’d let me behind the ‘closed doors’. Yet there I was, scrubs on my body, booties on my feet, cover on my head, mask on my face, camera in my right hand, mic in my left.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

As machines beeped, as bad jokes were told, as Johnny Cash and Jimi Hendrix played, as surgeons talked me through procedures, as hours went by, as I watched through my lens…a little Indian girl was cut, opened, mended, stretched, folded, closed, glued, held, stapled and gauzed back together again.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

After she was awoken…

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

…after she was returned to her mother’s waiting arms…

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

…after the surgeons retreated to their own, individual, time-developed post-surgery rituals, I went outside and sat on a curb in front of the hospital.

I sat there, in my borrowed scrubs and mask.

I sat there, camera still in hand, mic still in hand.

I sat there, sweating, thirsty, thinking about the surgery I had just seen.

I sat there…forever changed.

Then I got up, went back inside, and photographed a dozen more.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

– F

1 Comment

Filed under Diary Of A Traveling Photog, On Assignment, The Good In Mankind, The Story Behind The Shot

“Fearless.”

(photo: Fidel Amos)

Anjeli.

(Taken while on assignment with a group of Mission: Restore surgeons in Dehradun, India last year)

This woman was moments away from being anesthetized and operated on (to remove massive burn-scarring around her neck and chest). The anesthesia she would receive would be local, meaning she’d be numb in the areas that would be cut, but she would remain conscious. She didn’t speak a word of english but listened intently to every word said between the nurses and surgeons. She knew what was about to happen but showed no signs of nervousness or fear…no emotion whatsoever.

– F

3 Comments

Filed under Globetrotting, On Assignment, The Story Behind The Shot