This project went well. I was in India for 2 weeks photographing patients for the project to create positive images for leprosy. I worked with Lepra India who are linked to Lepra UK. They are really fired up about the project and gave us great organizational support with getting patients on board for the project and arranging our itinerary. We had a new photographer, Tom Bradley who has done many leprosy photos.
We spent a week out in the field visiting patients and seeing them work, one woman was harvesting cotton, another chopping wood. We saw cobras out in the fields. People lived in neat clean homes. In Hyderabad we visited patients in the Old City. I was reunited with one of my patients from 40 years ago, a tabla player. He still played for us accompanied by his 16 yr son singing.
Many patients had felt suicidal when they were diagnosed. An educated engineer man described how he felt unclean when diagnosed and self isolated himself from his wife. His sister, a senior bank manager has still not visited him since his diagnosis.
The violence being perpetrated against women came into sharp focus. Husbands often visit for violence and taking their wives hard earned money. One women who lamented that her husband had left her was told by the male health team that she was better off without a violent partner. The Indian arranged marriage system creates challenges because a diagnosis of leprosy can be used against a girl to prevent her marriage.
We had excellent support from the organizations. Lepra UK have a House of Lords event at the end of Jan and we shall have a small exhibition there and one in India in Feb. It is great to have such organizational enthusiasm. I think the moniker “new face and positive images” creates a new fresh feel even though we then hear tough stories. Getting ready for the Jan deadlines will keep us focused.