Archive for February, 2010

Dr. Rick

Posted in Documentary | Photography, Non Profit, Recent Projects on February 10, 2010 by tuschman

The highlight of my trip to Ethiopia was meeting Dr. Rick Hodes, an American physician who has lived and worked in Ethiopia for over 20 years.

Dr. Rick, as he is known, treats patients with very advanced stages of their disease. He is an expert on spinal diseases, including  cases of scoliosis and spinal tuberculosis. The week I was there he was preparing to send 10 children to Ghana for corrective spinal surgeries. He has adopted 5 children who have had corrective spinal surgeries and has been funding their educations. Some of them are now going to colleges in the U.S. In addition, he has two other homes where he supports 10-20 other children who are post-surgical and makes sure that they have the funds to attend school as well. For a more detailed description of my impressions of Dr. Rick, please go to:

Below is an annotated gallery of images of Dr. Rick with his patients during his morning office hours. (Click on a photo for its description.)

Before meeting Rick, I had been photographing in various rural medical clinics in the northern part of Ethiopia. ( See following posts below.) Even though I have traveled quite a bit in the Third World, I was very affected by the depth of poverty and lack of infrastructure that I found in Ethiopia. Contemplating the solutions that would get a society out of this deep quagmire of poverty left me with a feeling hopelessness. Meeting Dr. Rick and seeing him work his miracles one by one really was the best medicine I could have had to restore my faith in the ability of a a motivated individual to make such a profound difference in people’s lives. He heals more than the people he actually touches.

Ethiopia-Pfizer-ITI-Carter Center

Posted in Documentary | Photography, Non Profit, Recent Projects on February 10, 2010 by tuschman

Photographing the trachoma prevention program in Ethiopia was a very unique experience. I have photographed in many countries on health related issues and in Ethiopia I was to document health care workers in 3 rural clinics in the Tigray region and also photograph two fistula clinics near Bahir Dar. The extent of the poverty in Ethiopia was a bit overwhelming at first- I felt that many scenes of what I saw could have been from biblical times. The main means of transportation was walking with a stick. People were mostly wrapped in white cloth and the roads did not have much motor traffic; the greatest danger was dodging herds of cattle, goats, sheep or donkeys.  In the clinics I saw malnourished children, some very close to death.  Other children had flies that seemed to have colonized their faces and eyes as permanent living quarters. The lack of infrastructure was startling, even by third world standards. A good part of the main road in the north was unpaved and main towns had either no cell phone service, or at best, it was intermittent. Most villages would have been many days of walking from any road at all.

Almost all the projects that I have documented have been on a rather small scale, photographing in a certain clinic or village. The actual distribution and dosing of 9 million prescriptions of Zithromax in a vast region of Ethiopia ( the Amahara region) was awe inspiring. I was so impressed by all the different groups involved – Pfizer providing the actual medicine, International Trachoma Initiative and the Carter Center the medical skills, and the Lion’s club much of the logistics. I surmise there is a great story to be told in how a project like this actually gets  done and how the responsibilities of each group involved made all this feasible.   It would be difficult enough to do such a project in our country, but to do it in a country like Ethiopia with such a lack of infrastructure, is remarkable. My sense is that there is a role model here that needs to be illuminated and act as a road map for other projects in very impoverished countries. If this can be done, can this role model be used for other medical needs, or to build schools or libraries, irrigation techniques, etc.?

Ethiopia- UNICEF/ Columbia University AMDD program

Posted in Documentary | Photography, Non Profit, Recent Projects on February 10, 2010 by tuschman

My next major assignment in Ethiopia was documenting health care workers in a small rural clinic in Northern Ethiopia for Columbia University School of Public Health- in particular for their AMDD (Averting Maternal Death and Disability) programs. Here are a few stories and impressions from visiting three clinics in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

The women in the following gallery is HIV positive. She has a young child and is expecting another. The health care worker is instructing her on taking her new medication.

Ethiopia- UNICEF/Columbia University AMDD program

Posted in Documentary | Photography, Non Profit, Recent Projects on February 10, 2010 by tuschman

One of the most difficult experiences was seeing children who were so malnourished that they were barely holding onto life. The  next series of 4
images show attempts by a health care worker to insert an IV so the infant can get life-saving nutrition intravenously. There were many attempts to insert an IV in the infant’s arm and in a vein in its head, all of which were unsuccessful. It was a painful experience, for the family and for the health care workers, and certainly for the young child. I hoped they would have success after I left.

The following series of images in the gallery are of other malnourished infants in a ward in Wukro Hospital  being looked after by a nurse and other members of their immediate families.

The last two images are of children with hydrocephalus, a not too rare occurrence.

UNICEF- Columbia University- Health Care Workers I

Posted in Documentary | Photography, Non Profit, Recent Projects on February 10, 2010 by tuschman

Below you will find a small gallery of images of some of the health care workers. The first image of the small yellow room is very typical of  the rooms where patients are seen. They are very cramped with hardly any of the basic medical instruments we are used to finding when we go visit our own doctors here. The health care worker against the grey wall (the 6th image) is examining a young girl to determine the extent of her fistula. Following that image is a typical scene of a health care worker using a wooden stethoscope to listen to the heartbeat of the mother’s yet to be born infant. Following that image is a photo of a nurse holding a baby which she delivered herself through a Cesarean section. She is not a licensed physician but is hopefully trained well enough to successful perform this surgery. The next photo is of a women getting a birth control implant. Of the 10 women I photographed that day in the clinic, she was the only one who opted to get some form of extended birth control. All the other women wanted only a very short term solution- perhaps for a month or two. They feared disapproval from their husbands.

UNICEF-Columbia University- Health Care Workers II

Posted in Documentary | Photography, Non Profit, Recent Projects, Uncategorized on February 9, 2010 by tuschman

I was asked to do some hero close-up photos of the health care workers. Here is a selection of some of the “unsung heroes” who tirelessly do the day to day work in providing the only health care for most young mothers- they probably will never be seen by a physician. From the interviews that we did, most health care workers felt overwhelmed- they were understaffed and needed much more support.

Ethiopia-EngenderHealth October 2009

Posted in Documentary | Photography, Non Profit, Recent Projects on February 8, 2010 by tuschman

IN late fall of 2009 I had the privilege of working in Ethiopia on various projects. My first assignment was for EngenderHealth documenting some fistula clinics near Bahir Dar. These fistula clinics were very small, consisting of no more than 3 beds and each one had 2-3 patients who were waiting for their surgeries. There really wasn’t much happening- I did photograph some nurse patient interactions- but I thought that some good psychological portraits would best tell the stories of these young woman whose lives had been ruined and were hoping the surgeries would repair  their fistulas and restore their sense of hope for a normal life. They were clearly anxious and depressed. Here are some of the photos:

I also photographed a beautiful older Ethiopian woman who had successful fistula surgery and has since had children. She was attending a meeting of community organizers to help women in small remote villages to access  fistula treatment.