Monday, May 28, 2012

Africa!

One snowy morning in early February, I was sitting on a runway in Cincinnati, Ohio, waiting for the plane to be de-iced before take off, checking emails on my phone. Amongst the mundane messages one leapt out: from Christine McNab of the Measles and Rubella Initiative, the subject line read, "Proposal to travel to the DR Congo/ Illustrate." Through this small device in my hand, I was whisked from the icy Mid-West to Africa, to communities devastated by measles, to children dying in the thousands from this preventable disease. The proposal was very compelling, to visit these communities to talk with families and the immunization workers who travel across the country, often on foot, to distribute the vaccine. And then to draw. To create posters and maybe a book and a video, to communicate the toll of measles and show the ways we can prevent deaths and eliminate this disease.

I could barely wait to get back to New York so that I could say yes. In spite of reading terrible news every day from Central Africa, and in spite of my father's thoughtful links to reports of Congolese plane crashes, there were three insistent reasons to go: 1. I have never been to Africa. 2. I can hear all the news and all the statistics about measles, I can read that 380 children die a day, and yet, as I wave my own healthy children off to school in the morning, I can't possibly imagine the truth of this until I see it. 3. I love my work. I love making pictures that encourage children to turn pages or that cheer up subway commuters, but I've never worked on pictures which might conceivably save lives.

Throughout the past months of conversation and planning, Christine has sent me updates on her work with the Measles Initiative. She has told me about health workers in Nepal who climb mountains to reach remote villages, and immunization campaigns in Myanmar, where the children sit patiently in the shade with circles of bark paste on their faces to cool the skin. Inspired by her beautiful photographs, and because I was itching to get started on this project, I painted this image of a newly vaccinated family.

I have just arrived in Kinshasa and will post pictures and stories from the project on this blog. You can find out more about the Measles Initiative here.

 

 

 

 

22 comments:

  1. What an amazing opportunity. I look forward to reading/seeing more.

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  2. What a wonderful experience! I can't wait!!!

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  3. How wonderful! I have often thought that art and creativity could do much to further the work of public health (my profession by day) and am excited to hear more about your experiences and this collaboration. Please keep us updated!

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  4. I would love to have an opportunity to really do something positive like this! I hope to hear more!

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  5. Lovely painting,looking forward to see more c",)

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  6. a country dear to my heart. can't wait to see more!

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  7. Oh how wonderful!! I just returned from South Africa and it has forever changed me. You are so right when you say that you need to see it for yourself. Many blessings for your work!! Praying for safety and good health for you!! :)

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  8. Congratulations, what an amazing opportunity! Can't wait to see the results. Have a safe trip :)

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  9. This is beautiful!

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  10. Wow you are so lucky! I saw an article on twitter that said the most powerful images are not the happiest of images. So remember this when you are in Africa. https://twitter.com/LAReviewofBooks/status/204274141266849792
    I am looking forward to reading more about your experience (and of course seeing the pictures too)

    Love,
    Lady Ardour
    X

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  11. What a beautiful example of the use of art to promote change :)

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  12. Nice you have such a conscience and approach to your work...nice and unique work from your side

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  13. Love and admire all your work! Really enjoyed the subway pictures and now the measles work is simply great! I think it is fantastic to be able to bring about such life saving changes in Africa.I just joined your blog! I would love to paint for a cause too.

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  20. Love and admire all of your work! very enjoyed the subway footage and currently the contagious disease work is solely great! i feel it's fantastic to be ready to create such life saving changes in continent.I simply joined your blog! i'd like to paint for a cause too. click here for Packers and Movers Cuttack

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  22. I would love to have an opportunity to really do something positive like this! I hope to hear more!
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