Weekly Photo Challenge: Pattern | Neglect

Pattern of neglect

The subject of this week’s photo challenge is patterns.  In a new post specifically created for this challenge, share a picture which means PATTERN to you! 

The exterior of a house in Sierra Leone, West Africa. My heart is drawn to the pattern of neglect, the pattern of deterioration.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

1 Amputee Sierra Leone

The Peace Project, an international social movement that I work with in Sierra Leone, changed this man’s life by giving him a pair of crutches.

I took this photograph in May 2012 during one of The Peace Project’s crutch distribution efforts in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

forpeace6

The Nomad Commentaries

Commentary No. 1

“Anguish and grief, like darkness and rain, may be depicted; but gladness and joy, like the rainbow, defy the skill of pen or pencil. – Frederick Douglass. 

Commentary No. 2

I wander away from the screen

Tear holes in the routine.

For a brief moment, I have time on my hands.

Where do I begin?

I will hold your eyes, see me.

You watch as I read the songlines on your palms, caress your forks in the road.

You can breathe in, but not out again

If you so choose.

Where is your heart’s compass? Where’s your heart’s Due North?

Hold2

It can take time for messages to come ashore.

It can take time for the vowels to sail forth past the ego:

The consonants seem to take even longer. God knows

Why…

It takes injury for this mesmerist to rein in her consciousness:

To peel the old paint on her story.

Only through art can I languish and pretend not to exist.

Hold 1

Commentary No. 3

Writing brought by abstract painting to the paper.

Commentary No. 4

With a slow burning heart 
I drive to the pharmacy with my guitar all the hours of the 24.

Fame is a drug on prescription all the hours of the 24.

After a lifetime of searching I found my biological father on Facebook. My shadow self is battling to hold onto me. She’s cutting my clothes to smithereens.

immortality

Commentary No. 5

One day I will write about inner peace.

Growing in seedpods.

Nurtured in short bursts of poetry.

Seagulls hover over me

Waiting for yesterday’s bread.

Let the NOW be of use to you angel, seer, believer,

Friend, ally, I love you.

Iroquoi Nation

How do we reconcile our unconscious desires?

Our labyrinth.

How do we fly above ourselves to

highlight, to minimize, to free

ourselves from the loop of assumptions,

groove of greed.

Juice of injustice.

Commentary No. 6

doors

An Englishman rolls down his car window to shout the word nigger at me.

A white colleague calls me a cross between a dog and a slave.

How do I reconcile this information?

Do I laugh it off? Do I take myself less seriously?

Transcend my pride

Ego

Injury

Humiliation

My feeling of total wipeout.

Untitled-2begin

With unconditional love…

“I love you, please forgive me, I’m sorry, thank you.”

Commentary No. 7

museum-of-fiction1.jpg

Here I write in the house I was conceived in. If I am mistaken, I go about it quietly, fastidious as I am in matters of delicacy. My great great grand-mother Alice (the ancestor with the long tail) never tired of telling me that forgetfulness is for the mind with pinhole capacity.

“How are you my darling apparition?” I say giving Alice an impromptu kiss. A line coruscates her forehead. She waits. She frowns. She tumbles into the other world.

After an interval, Alice re-appears as a shimmering blur. Her blurred outline manifests a balance beam and she hops up onto the four-inch wide platform and strikes a pose in the dark recess of our wooden house: empowering the occupants to set sail to the New World.

Whether our family reaches its destination depends upon the wellbeing of our slaves.

This man has polio

Commentary No. 8

In Sierra Leone, West Africa, everything is broken 
in pieces strewn apart.

My ancestors’ medals 
that were pinned to their chests
 are now buried in the family archives.

Today in our Freetown neighborhood, it’s aching with rain. I’m waiting for my sister to finish up her meeting 
with the Director of Reparations.

In the ether her words comingle,

bare her soul like an abstract painting.

I wish I had the perfect umbrella for her; but I don’t.

In Sierra Leone we’re all in the waiting room.

The Peace

Commentary No. 9

Limbo only meant to be temporary, not held in this position, in this way for all my life.

Commentary No. 10

The Nomad Commentaries — Artist’s Statement.

In attempting to document my personal experience, I found myself in an autobiographical dilemma. I was yet to become socially aware and still had to become politically conscious of the black diaspora which informed my artistic roots. But when I came to articulate this journey, I realized the Eurocentric linear narrative formula could never adequately explain what I was feeling, and I searched for an art form to combine the diaphanous threads of my lost indigenous peoples, my Eurocentric scholastic disciplines and my vivid childhood as a child of the punk era: a child of The Clash and The Sex Pistols and the clash of cultures.

My early training as a dancer gave me the courage to investigate and discover that it is vital to find a common universality, a non-linear language. The following years were immersed in transcribing what I felt to be messages from my ancient past: layers of identity blurring boundaries and stirring my cellular memory. It took several years before my instincts led to me to produce documentaries as a catalyst for positive social change.

Furthermore, by employing text, video and mixed media and floating together photographic, painted and digital images, I discovered how to connect the fragments of my mixed African-European identity and begin the journey of reaching outside of myself to communicate messages of faith, healing, oneness and love.

Fork in the road

A gentleman whose leg was forcibly amputated by a child soldier during the civil war in Sierra Leone takes his first steps with a new pair of crutches that were donated to him by The Peace Project.

I photographed him as he navigated the rush hour traffic in Sierra Leone’s capital city. 

Pademba Road

With your innate superiority you carve your God into a mountain. My God is carved on sand and will never know security.

If I eat well tonight you will not starve.

In June of this year I met a community of polio survivors who live on Pademba Road in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The majority of the men I interviewed are in urgent need of crutches and wheelchairs.

As you will see from this short video; for these polio survivors, the only way they can have mobility is to crawl along the ground.

International Women’s Day

Today I was invited to speak about my work with The Peace Project at the International Women’s Day event in Hastings, Sussex.

I’m delighted to say that not only did I receive a huge amount of support for The Peace Project but I had two laptops available for women to cast their votes in an online competition to help The Peace Project win a $50,000 grant to build the first peace centre in Sierra Leone.

We are currently in 3rd place so please vote and help us get into 1st place and win the grant.

Please visit this link and click VOTE FOR THIS to vote every day from now until 31st March.

http://www.cultivatewines.com/cause/6100/

If we all vote together we really will make a difference in this world today.

Thank you again for all your support.

Michele

Peace and Illumination

As some of you may know I work for a small charity called The Peace Project (www.thepeaceproject.com). The focus of our charity has been on distributing crutches to thousands of amputees and polio sufferers in Sierra Leone backed up by our philosophy that the first step to sustainable peace is personal mobility. In Sierra Leone, thousands of men, women and children suffered the horror of having one (or several) of their limbs forcibly amputated.

In an overwhelming number of cases the amputations were carried out by drugged child soldiers in an assault on the nation’s population that rebel forces dubbed ‘Operation No Living Thing’. The reasons behind these crimes against humanity are manifold, but for the purpose of simplicity, the hunger of certain interest groups to control the regions of Sierra Leone that produce diamonds (blood diamonds) was the primary motivation for embarking on a civil war that killed and maimed thousands of people and scorched the earth of one of the most beautiful countries in our world.

A decade after the civil war ended, there are still thousands of amputees who are forced to crawl on all fours to get around due to the impoverished situation of disabled Sierra Leoneans who cannot afford the cost of a pair of crutches. In order to raise awareness (and funds) for disabled people in Sierra Leone I am willing to do whatever it takes to help relieve the suffering of thousands who live in a country that is a long way from my home. In addition, many of the people who read this blog contribute their time, energy, love and financial resources to making this work possible.

Please may I take this opportunity to thank you — Eliza, Sarah, Rosendo, Elizabeth, Kentake, Dreaddaze, Lewis, Michael, Akila, Chris, Jc, Pablo, Cecelia, Bridget and Elias. And a final thank you to Lisa Schultz who founded The Peace Project in 2010. Please join with us on our next initiative to build the first Peace Centre in Sierra Leone. http://www.cultivatewines.com/cause/6100/

Thank you  again — and please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like further information on how to get involved in the work that we’re doing. Peace and blessings to you. Michele.

 








How The Other Half Loves…

The Polio Victims Association Home in Grafton, near Freetown, Sierra Leone. June, 2011.

On June 13, 2011, I visited The Polio Victims Association Home in connection with my work for The Peace Project.

Polio respects no boundaries. In Sierra Leone, the bombing of all hospitals and health facilities and the evacuation of aid workers during the nineties meant that polio vaccinations were interrupted and polio spread rapidly during this time.

Polio has been eradicated in the UK since 1982. Yet poverty and war continue to perpetuate this easily preventable yet cruel disease in Sierra Leone. There are thousands of polio stricken disabled people in Sierra Leone. Some of the youngest in the country are housed at the Grafton Home for Polio Orphans.

In Sierra Leone polio is considered to be a curse and the women who bears a polio child is cast out on the streets and the child is taken into the forest to have a ceremony conducted to rid the child of the demon. Often the child is left to die, or abandoned in the streets, or brought to orphanages. A child born with polio is considered to be of less worth than a dog and disabled people in general are frequently beaten and harassed for no reason except for their disability. Polio orphaned children are the most vulnerable people in this poor country.
(Source: International Foundation for Disabled Orphans)

Walking past London’s Harrods store on June 15, 2011 and seeing this window display for Veuve Clicquot.

Veuve Clicquot is opening its first champagne bar and boutique at London’s Harrods store.

The Veuve Clicquot boutique is located on the first floor alongside international luxury fashion labels. There is also a lounge area with gray and yellow tones and glass topped tables for a more quiet place to contemplate money spent. The Boutique also offers the latest Veuve Clicquot gifts, such as the new Ice Jacket and Traveller and other stylish champagne accessories, sold exclusively through Harrods.
(Source: Luxuo, Luxury Blog)

On June 14, 2011, I travelled from Sierra Leone to London. In the space of 48 hours, I received my greatest lesson in How The Other Half Loves… The gap between rich and poor. The spectrum of having and not having… The distance we need to travel.

Everything is broken

In Sierra Leone
everything is broken
in pieces strewn apart.

My ancestors’ medals for slavery
that were pinned to their chests
are now pinned to the water.

The connection to my African
language is broken;

and when English is spoken here,
the English is broken.

Today in Freetown it’s aching with rain.
I’m outside the National rehab center.
I’m filming a Peace Wall.
I’m waiting for my sister to finish up her meeting
with the Director of rehab.

In the ether her words comingle
bare her soul like an abstract painting

I wish I had the perfect umbrella for her,
but I don’t.

In Sierra Leone we’re all in the waiting room.

I make films to gather time,
to witness the unsayable.

This time around…

Sierra Leone will not cleave at the spine,
nor splinter into disquietude.

She has been promised peace.
A clean sheet.