nearly died after stepping on a landmine in Afghanistan. Back at home, fighting for his life in hospital, he made a promise to return to Kabul to fulfill their mission to document the number of civilian war wild bears. Here is his story
probably were not the words of my sister wanted to hear, but in the first weeks after the explosion, while my body took over the infection and my organs started to leave one by one, the only words I could, whispered were: ". 'm still a photographer "may seem ridiculous, but it was my fault, the broken body trying to preserve their identity, always understand what defines me, beyond my wounds, my fuzzy consciousness and coma imminent .
few months ago, I sat in the searing heat of Sudan with Gino Strada, charismatic surgeon chainsmoking who created the Italian NGO Emergency, discuss the situation of civilians caught in the conflict in Afghanistan. I went to visit her project in Khartoum, documenting its innovative Salam Cardiac Centre. During dinner, Gino told me was doing emergency work in Kabul. I refused to Afghanistan because I felt so great photographers already working there. I've always said that if I get somewhere and no other photographer and I am in the wrong place. My main interest was the untold stories of human suffering around the world. However, as explained Gino, with typical Italian passion, on the plight of civilians trapped in the war years, I realized that it was a story he had heard little. So I decided this time to go to document the work of emergency there, and I made this promise to Gino.
few months later, I was in Afghanistan. In the time before I had to start my work at the emergency hospital was built with the U.S. 101st Airborne Division. I prepared documents - my own publication for documentary photography - and through this had decided he was going to do a story on the impact of war on a small unit of soldiers. To create a more complete picture that I wanted to try to document all parties to the conflict to show that everyone involved in numerous war can become victims. This is an amazing statistic that last year more American soldiers committed suicide than were killed in Afghanistan.
While in this film, a cold February morning in 2011, I entered an IED (improvised explosive device), I was fighting for my life in intensive care for the next two months and left triple intact with one arm amputated. As I regained consciousness at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham in the next few months, I became aware of my situation, and one thing became apparent, it seemed unlikely that I would like to work as a photographer again. In fact, for the first time told me that probably never live independently. It was as if my life was over. And in many ways, guilty as I am sorry to say, I did not want them. However, those around me, my family and my partner, Jen, encouraged me and taken my fight. Stubbornness - as a child, I was told that this would be the end for me - starting to become my greatest asset. Lying in his hospital bed, I decided to never walk alone, but my life as it was before going on the pump.
Three months later, while I was sitting in my bed without help for the first time, this seemingly simple task felt like the biggest win. And from that moment on, I knew I could do it. To search, I set goals: walk without the aid of Christmas for a drink in my local Hastings arm, walking with Jen in Soho, where we had our last appointment, and in one year had all my business and live in my own house. Each objective has been achieved and listed until no one remains the most important and the most difficult. I was determined to keep my promise to Gino to return to Afghanistan and finish the project he started
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As the plane landed on the runway of Kabul Airport full of nervousness, I've never known. I thought about this moment for two years. I've worked tirelessly to achieve this, and now here I am, frankly, I shit. I ask myself: "Why am I doing this and why I must return to the place that took my legs and almost took my life?" Nobody would have thought less of me for good. My family and the couple hoped no. simply help my body, and for weeks I could not sleep thinking about it. And here I am back in Afghanistan.
This time, I'm not alone. As soon as I arrived at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, a few days after the explosion, while still in intensive care, people have wanted to tell my story and my recovery disk. I was not particularly interested - my story did not seem so important. Over time, however, I realized that because of what happened to me does not work get more attention. One of the most difficult aspects of the work I've done for 10 years, documenting humanitarian lesser known, is to get people to actually see. It became clear to me that my story could be used as a way of telling the stories of others. I think what I do has not changed, but my voice is much stronger.
tenders for a company of documentary varied Jamie Oliver TV in South Korea, but for me, it was important to find a team who were so interested in this angle in stories documented and my story. I do not want it on me. So when I was approached by the team responsible for Channel 4
two strands of literature that I greatly admire, I jumped at the chance. I knew I could trust them to do well. Now they are in Afghanistan with me and the reality of what the film is about all of us.
After leaving customs and sit near the exit waiting to be picked up, I am filled with overwhelming fear. I am convinced that it will be a blast. My logic tells me that this is unlikely, but something in me remember what I thought last time. My mind is conjuring an imaginary real explosion beaten to physically feel the heat. I have never been a brave man, but I've never been afraid like this. When driving in Kabul my fear grew. At each checkpoint, all the traffic, all the obstacles, I think I'll vomit. I put my arm right between my legs orthopedic ridiculous logic that if there was an explosion, at least be protected.
After 20 minutes, we arrived at the emergency hospital in the city center. The hospital was established in 2000, when the Taliban have left an emergency former kindergarten as the first hospital in Afghanistan. At the time, it was the only ICU in the country. In the gardens, playground swings and slides remain, reminders of the past haunting the hospital more innocent. Park your car greets me Lucy, an English nurse who befriends the last time you worked in a hospital emergency in Sudan. We were relieved to have a moment of familiarity in a strange place. Respect for local customs, I resist the temptation to put my arms around her until we are in private. "My God, Lucy, it's so good to see you. I promised that I would be here. "And then the tears take over. Two years of struggle for the moment overcame me. Truly I did.
One of the things I learned about emergency in Sudan has been the emphasis on the hospital grounds. It is part of their philosophy that a hospital should be an oasis of calm and a medical center. Although most hospitals in conflict zones are inherently chaotic emergency hospitals still have a sense of peace. The hospital is no exception here. As Lucy gave me a tour of the manicured gardens for patients to relax in the sun, it is hard to believe that I am in the center of Kabul.emergence
But the hidden reality. Each day, the hospital is responsible for more than 30 wounded civilians, often horribly, by the conflict in Kabul and the surrounding provinces. It has a policy of treating only the war wounded - only those injuries bomb, gun or a knife are allowed. Before arriving Lucy sent me several emails that gave me a sense of belonging. In the staffroom asked about some of the stories I had heard. During the summer, she said, the death toll was so high that the patients were in the laundry room. A few months earlier, had six patients of the same family. They were on a bus that ran over a landmine. Some died on the spot. They had a grandmother, her daughter and grand-son all in the same room. The mother had lost his legs. She said the child who prays every night after losing to his brother when detonated a landmine. He asked his family: "What pray for him?" The family said: "Pray forget because the last thing I saw was his brother is dead."
The conversation is interrupted when his walkie-talkie crackles into life. She gets up and leaves the room, explaining that this is another victim who will join us later in the staff house. She spoke without stopping until this point, as if to tell so many stories is somehow cathartic.
There is a particular advantage of working with an Italian NGO - all staff live like a big family . That first night we were treated to a group that belongs to noon Naples Kabul. With laughter, hugs, parmesan and pasta, the only thing missing is the red wine. Throughout my career, I've always had a deep respect for the nurses, doctors, surgeons, logisticians and administrators who give their lives to work in hospitals of its kind in the world. They sacrifice family, freedom, risking their lives, put his career on hold, but rarely fanfare. Although the laugh tonight, I can see the tension. Confined in the hospital grounds, working seven days a week, 24 hours a day, have become accustomed to the noise of suicide bombings and shooting every day and deal with terrible losses, not necessary. Hopefully more regularly received praise they deserve.
asked the young man if I can take your picture. He nods. In the narrow space I can lean against the wall so that I can lower my point of view and take my first pictures. I am struck by the emptiness in his eyes. I get up and walk back to the room. Alberto puts his arm around my shoulders. "Congratulations," he said, "you took the first picture." There is a small sense of pride, but it is overwhelmed by a terrible guilt again my job means that I am interfering in the hardest moments the lives of people. I feel ashamed that victorious. As they leave, Alberto introduces us to his cat, Rita, a stray dog ??one day, we walked through the doors and into his office. Now she never leaves her side. It lacks a leg. Kabul, even cats know where to go.
During the following days, gradually returning to my rhythm. For two weeks, was founded in hospital emergency patient documentation there. Discover new challenges, the biggest one is how to balance. The average person uses three mechanisms to control their balance, feet, inner ear and eyes. The pump has stolen my feet and damaged my inner ear, and I find that when I close my eyes to look through the viewfinder, I lose my balance. In addition to all this, I am learning to keep my heavy camera, the balance of the left lens of my stump. My biggest fear is that my photos are not of the same quality as before my accident. And the first days do little to alleviate this fear. Every night I look through the photos of the day with a heavy heart. It seems unable to capture the stories of the people I know. However, I am also aware that many missions in the first days or weeks are always the most difficult to install in my throat. Every place has its own speed photography that you must understand before you can really grasp. In the past, I had always been proud of the way it was boring. No matter where I was in the world, people quickly forgot he was there and I could drift into the background, giving me the opportunity to take photos that do not seem staged. With my new shiny legs and an arm, being anonymous is much more difficult. On the positive side, my new requirement is to create a link that I have never experienced before. I'm in long discussions with those who have recently lost a limb or are about relay my own experiences.
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