Gallery on the Guardian website

Asia, Leprosy, Nepal

Very pleased that the Guardian published a gallery of my photos on the Global Development section of their website this morning, to mark World Leprosy Day.

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The photos are a series I took while staying in Khokana leprosy colony just outside Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu. You can view the gallery here:

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/gallery/2015/jan/25/life-laughter-loss-nepal-leprosy-colony-in-pictures

Feel free to share it on facebook, twitter etc. 🙂

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Okegbala portraits

Africa, Documentary, Leprosy, Nigeria

Okegbala, in Nigeria, is a settlement made up of three large hamlets and a leprosy hospital. The residents are there because they, or their parents or grandparents are affected by leprosy – originally moving to be near the leprosy hospital. Here are portraits of three of the residents, all affected by leprosy, the last of whom is blind.

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A Culture of Giving

Burma, Documentary, Leprosy, Myanmar, portrait, travel

While I was on assignment photographing leprosy in Myanmar last year I visited the aforementioned Ma Yan Chaung Leprosy Resettlement Village near Yangon. Frustratingly, due to Myanmar still being a very carefully controlled state, I was only allowed to visit for a few hours, when I would have liked to have stayed there for a week or more.

The area was made up of a leprosy hospital, a church with houses for selected vulnerable former/current leprosy patients, a village made up predominantly of people affected by leprosy and their families, and two dormitories.

The dormitories had about 30 beds each, all of which were occupied, and in which lived individuals affected by leprosy. It wasn’t a hospital, but a community. They all had duties, some of them even had jobs. There was a strict routine each day, getting up early, eating together at specific times and going to bed early. There was little privacy as each dormitory was just one long room with beds facing each other. Some people had been there for many years, others quite recently.

On the face of it, it appeared to be a charitable situation; though there are several social enterprises in place to keep the dormitories going, it still relies on donations of various forms. I know this to be a very simplistic view, and though I wasn’t allowed much time to observe the complexities of this relationship I wanted to turn this view on it’s head somehow.

So I asked them each to think of when they last gave something to someone else – an intrinsic part of the Burmese Buddhist culture. Then I took just one or two shots of them on their bed. I didn’t direct them at all, I just wanted to show them, with their worldly possessions around them, and their quote that makes them the donor, and not the beneficiary. I’m going to try and expand this concept in my long-term project Leprosy Eliminated?.

Ma Yan Chaung Resettlement Village - Dormitories - Daw Lone Tin

“10 days ago I gave rice to a teacher in a remote village.” Daw Lone Tin

Ma Yan Chaung Resettlement Village - Dormitories - Daw Mya Sein

“Last week I donated some food to a monk living in the forest.” Daw Mya Sein

Ma Yan Chaung Resettlement Village - Dormitories - Daw Sun Tint

“Yesterday, on 2nd December I gave some noodles to a monk.” Daw Sun Tint

Ma Yan Chaung Resettlement Village - Dormitories - Daw Than Khin

“2 months ago I gave a longyi to one of the people affected by leprosy.” Daw Than Khin

Ma Yan Chaung Resettlement Village - Dormitories - Daw Tin Shwe

“On the 15th November I gave a longyi and some noodles and other food to a poor patient.” Daw Tin Shwe

Ma Yan Chaung Resettlement Village - Dormitories - U Thein Han

“10 days ago I was given an extra blanket which I felt I didn’t need, so I gave it to someone who needed it more.” U Thein Han

Ma Yan Chaung Resettlement Village - Dormitories - Ko Mya Oo

“15 days ago I gave some longyis to some local people.” U Ko Mya Oo

Ma Yan Chaung Resettlement Village - Dormitories - U Mg Mg Khin

“I donated a thermoplast to a monk on 19th November” U Mg Mg Khin

Ma Yan Chaung Resettlement Village - Dormitories - U Tao

“Last Saturday I donated packs of noodles to a monk.” U Tao

Ma Yan Chaung Resettlement Village - Dormitories - U Tin Khaing

“10 days ago I gave one shirt and one longyi to a person in the village here.” U Tin Khaing

A Puppy in Myanmar

Asia, Documentary, General comment, Leprosy, Myanmar, portrait

Last year a doctor specialising in leprosy told me that one aspect of the disease that people don’t necessarily think about is not the pain you can’t feel (as a result of paralysed nerves – which can lead to the damage, such as this woman has on her hands), but the pleasing touches you can no longer feel.

When this woman picked up this puppy it made think of what that doctor told me, and I wondered if she could feel the softness of the puppies hair, or it’s paws scratching her hands.

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Woman with puppy, Ma Yan Chaung Leprosy Resettlement Village. Myanmar 2013

Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Indonesia

Leprosy, travel

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Khokhana leprosy colony. Kathmandu Valley, Nepal 2009

Well today I’m heading off for several months to the above countries. I land in Kathmandu sometime in the afternoon tomorrow and head straight to Anandaban hospital which will be my base for the rest of September. Naturally the focus of my work will be leprosy, this time working with a mixture of The Leprosy Mission (TLM) International, TLM England and Wales, TLM New Zealand, TLM Switzerland, TLM Netherlands, Nepal Leprosy Trust and of course American Leprosy Missions.

This will be my third trip to Nepal (which is where this whole leprosy project kicked off over four years ago), but my first time in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Indonesia.

The overall trip has a bit of flexibility to it, which will hopefully allow me enough time to pursue some personal photographic work, as well as pick up any commissions, so if you have any contacts in, story ideas or thoughts about visiting any of these countries, do email me: info@tom-bradley.com. It will be noted and appreciated!

I’ll be trying to update this blog on the go, but I’ll also be updating my instagram feed daily(ish), so do follow me on that @tombradleyphoto.

I’ll also try and update the main leprosy website in time. You can sign up for occasional updates from that here.

Leprosy - A Portrait of the Terai (60)

Women get water from a recently installed pump in the village of Dathora. Leprosy endemicity is high in the Terai, the flatlands where Dathora is located. Dathora, Nepal 2009

www.isleprosyeliminated.com

Documentary, General comment, Leprosy

It’s been a while since my last blog post. I’ve been busy – though perhaps that’s no excuse. The product of this busyness is however something I can show. You may have guessed it by the title.

www.isleprosyeliminated.com

The official project name is now Leprosy Eliminated? and other stories. Though the Leprosy Eliminated? part/question of the title is an overriding theme (and in fact quite an expansive one), I’m not looking for a singular story. Part of the idea of this project is for record and that means it should encompass anything that’s interesting. Obviously that’s subjective – so it in fact encompasses anything I find interesting. Hopefully you will share my interest on at least some of the stories.

World Leprosy Map

You may ask why I’m doing this. Good question. There are a lot of reasons. You can find out more in the About section of the website.

Meanwhile here’s one of the reasons that I decided to pursue this documentary through to the end. It’s a note I received early on, having attended a church service at a leprosy colony in Nigeria. I was overwhelmed, slightly embarrassed and ultimately humbled to receive praise like this that I was not expecting and didn’t deserve. But the way that it referred to “us, the rejected”, made me realise just how important it can be to highlight the lives of some – even if it’s just a few.

I’m hoping to engage people in the project – educate about leprosy, show photographs, videos, stories of those who are and have been affected, those who have spent a lifetime committed to fighting the disease, and the various whys, hows and ways that leprosy can affect individuals and communities.

Please sign up to occasional updates on the project here. And meanwhile – explore the website.

www.isleprosyeliminated.com