For the second time in less than 5 months, I packed my cameras and headed off on assignment for cmmb.org. In October, I shot for them in Haiti and it was life changing. CMMB helps women and children with healthcare, medicine and education. Needless to say, when I was asked again if I wanted to shoot for them-this time in Peru, I jumped on it. We were supposed to leave at the end of January and then the massive snow storm hit, grounding all flights. The only positive thing about that was I managed to shoot 2 Bruce Springsteen shows which was great-he is doing the entire "The River" album and that was the first tour I ever shot and attended in 1980.
In Peru, no matter where you head to, you start and end in Lima. We flew in and had a day to unwind, taking in the sights and meeting some great people.The Catacombs in Lima
Community Health Worker Sara administrating iron since anemia is a serious health problem for children under 3 in Huancayothe ecological toilet that members of CMMB's CHAMPS program learn how to build, and use Peusto de la Salud Clas La Esperanza....women and children waiting in line at the clinic in the hills of Huancayo
CMMB has several therapists who are really making a difference in the lives of women and children. The activities they have are just amazing, and to see so many kids who were once 100% dependent on someone else thrive is just remarkable. Above, Rayda and her daughter Daniela, 8 embrace. Daniela has a learning disability and before working with CMMB, Rayda told us that she viewed and treated Daniela more like a pet and now she realizes that Daniela can learn and feel just like others. She is very grateful that CMMB educated her.
Auria, 47, and her son Jordy, 15. He is the youngest of 5 children. Jordy has mental retardation. Since working with CMMB he has started to talk, learned his colors and is able to care for himself. These new abilities will now allow him to go to school.
Theresa, 45, with her son Kenji, who is 7 and he has Downs Syndrome. Theresa says thanks to the CMMB's therapists, he can now walk, and talk and is almost able to say complete sentences.
We then left Huancayo and I have to be honest-I was looking forward to it. I had a really bad case of altitude sickness and it was nothing like I expected. I thought it would be like a bad asthma attack but I was wrong. EVERY part of my body hurt...from my little toe to strands of hair. It was hard to imagine I would ever feel better but as soon as we landed back in Lima and then headed to Trujillo, I felt better. In fact, in Trujillo, I felt better than I can ever remember! We went up in the hills. The higher up one lives, the less they have. It always amazes me when I meet people that have basically nothing yet they are warm, inviting, and gracious. They would give you the shirt off their back if needed. If only those who "have it all" would always do the same.
The people of Peru are so loving. Everywhere we met, we were greeted with hugs, kisses on the cheeks...and the same when we left. The children were full of laughter and smiles. It breaks my heart to see how so many of them live and struggle, but warms my heart to see how loving and gracious and happy they are.Jherick, age 7, and his pigeon (above) and brotherly love-with is younger brother, Asher, age 5
Miranda, age 9, uses the hygiene station that her family learned how to build and use from CMMB
Elvira, a mother of 5 children wondered why she left her house in the mountains to come to Trujillo where life was just as difficult for her family. Then she became a participant of CMMB's healthy home program which had greatly improved her family's quality of life.
Betsy, age 18, with Leon, age 5 months. As a young single mother, Betsy appreciates the information and support she gets from CMMB. CMMB has been impressed with her positive mothering skills and interest in learning and improving her life.
Maria Elena, age 32 is the mother of 2 kids, Andy Lionel, age 3 and Miva Nicole, age 11. Below, she is cooking a healthy meal in her kitchen that CMMB taught her
Alejandrina, 35, and a mother of 4 children. Raul is 12 and has CP. When Raul started working with CMMB 5 years ago he was curled into a fetal position with his fists clenched. After many years of physical therapy, progress has been made bit by bit and he is able to sit, bend and open and close his hands.
8 year old Ericka was born with microcephaly, which means her brain and skull did not fully develop. She has been working with CMMB for close to 5 years and she can now open her fists, sit, and support her head. She lives with her Grandmother and both Grandmother and Granddaughter work hard to improve Ericka's quality of life
Jany, 45 and a mother of 4 children. The youngest is 4 year old Juan de Dios. Juan has CP (Cerebral Palsy) Three years ago he couldn't walk and when he began working with CMMB he has learned to walk and talk. At night he wears special braces on his feet to his shins to help properly position the muscles so he can walk and stand better
Grimaldina, 41, a mother of 5 children. Her youngest daughter Luz Pamela is 4 years old and has CP. Luz Pamela was born normal and at 5 months old she was playing with a plastic bag and partially swallowed it and cut off her oxygen supply. The lack of oxygen caused her disabilities including loss of muscle control and speech. CMMB started working with her 7 months ago and the improvement, while not typical, has been dramatic. She can walk and stand with assistance and she understands everything that is told to her. She is very determined to do things by herself and for herself.
Elvira, a mother of 5 children wondered why she left her house in the mountains to come to Trujillo where life was just as difficult for her family. Then she became a participant of CMMB's healthy home program which had greatly improved her family's quality of life. Elvira in her bedroom in front of the closet that built from wood they found to allow them to have more order in their homeMiranda, age 9, and her bunny rabbit (above) and learning photography (below) A 93 year old Grandfather in his home in Trujillo, Peru On the hill in Trujillo, Peru Building a house on the hill in Trujillo, Peru
My second assignment for CMMB was another life changing shoot for me. The workers with CMMB that I have met from all over the world are amazing and such a committed group who want to make a difference in the lives of others. I don't think I have ever taken anything for granted but when I come back to NYC and see so many people with the "me me me" attitude, it makes me sad and sick. The people I have met and photographed in both Haiti and Peru-people who basically have nothing by our standards, are happy, loving, and giving. I think they can teach us all something so important.
Thanks to CMMB for these assignments....hopefully there will be more to come...but not in high altitudes!