Protecting Our Tomorrows
Protect. Nurture. Love. These three words have served as my mantra and inspiration throughout my 30-year career as a photographer. My work has allowed me the tremendous opportunity to travel around the world, meeting and working with families from many walks of life. One emotion that unites all of us as parents is the instinctive drive to ensure that our children are safe and protected. In allowing them to grow and flourish, we protect the future of our world.
This project has been made possible by my partnership with Novartis Vaccines and the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO). The Protecting Our Tomorrows: Portraits of Meningococcal Disease series is a global initiative aimed at raising awareness among parents regarding the threat of meningococcal disease and the importance of its prevention.
As a photographer and mother, it was incredibly moving to meet these young people and see firsthand the impact that meningococcal disease has had on their lives. I feel privileged to be joining these survivors and their families, not just to raise awareness, but to highlight their powerful stories of resilience and also honor those who have tragically lost their lives to the disease. Meningococcal disease is a sudden, aggressive illness that can lead to death within 24 hours of onset. Babies, toddlers and adolescents are the most vulnerable, with infants under 12 months of age at greatest risk.
Unfortunately, many of those who do survive are often left with life-long complications, such as brain damage, learning disabilities, hearing loss and amputation of limbs.
Thankfully, we live in an age when medical advances are continually providing us with more and more options to help keep our children safe from serious health risks, including meningococcal disease. Through these images, I hope to help illustrate the profound impact that meningococcal disease can have on entire families and highlight the responsibility that we have as adults and parents to do everything we can to help protect and nurture our children during their most vulnerable years.
The 15 survivors featured in this project are from many different countries and cultures. Therefore, to unify the series and highlight the fact that despite cultural differences, they have so much in common through their experiences with meningococcal disease, I have referenced the symbolism of a bird’s nest in each of the images. The nest is referenced very subtly at times in the images and at other times more obviously. To me, a beautiful little bird’s nest, and the ingredients used in its building represent love, nurture, family, protection, hope and, most importantly, a deceptive strength.
This has been a very emotional, motivating and informative experience for me. I hope that these images will inspire you to be vigilant. Be aware of the signs and symptoms, trust your instincts and speak with your physician about vaccination to help protect your family from this potentially devastating disease.
We owe it to our children.
The Protecting Our Tomorrows: Portraits of Meningococcal Disease e-book is available now as a free download on the iBook Store.
March of dimes
In 2014 Anne became an Ambassador (volunteer) for the March of Dimes charity, and was invited to take a signature image for the 2014 World Prematurity Day campaign. March of Dimes is a global organization whose focus is to help mothers around the world to have full-term pregnancies and healthy newborn babies.
This is a cause that is very close to Anne’s heart, and has been for many years.
In fact, one of Anne’s most iconic images; Jack Holding Maneesha featuring a tiny premature baby cradled in strong hands was photographed in 1993.
Anne says, “Maneesha is pretty much a shining example of how a little baby can start off in such a fragile state and grow into a beautiful young woman. I have an even deeper sense of the fragility and preciousness of life now, than when I photographed Maneesha so many years ago, weighing less than 2.2 pounds. (one kilo) Maneesha was the smallest baby I had ever photographed. She was born prematurely at 28 weeks’ gestation, and was just about to leave the hospital after a long stay. I can’t imagine how emotional it must have been for Jack to hold to hold such a tiny and precious human being; watching them both was certainly one of my most moving experiences. That day was the first time Maneesha had been completely disconnected from all of her machinery, and I remember, when I settled her into Jack’s huge hands and was photographing her, the look of amazement and wonder on her mother’s face.”
Since then Anne has photographed in three other NICU (units), one in Doha, Qatar, two in Sydney Australia.
21 years after Anne’s 1st image of Maneesha and Jack, little Alfred continues this tradition in this beautiful photograph taken by Anne for the March of Dimes 2014 World Prematurity Day. Alfred was born 8 weeks premature, weighing just 2 pounds 6 ounces. This photograph was taken in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Royal North Shore hospital in Sydney Australia where Alfred was born and stayed until he well enough to be taken home.
Anne says, “Tiny baby Alfred sends a fragile and yet powerful message. The initial heart wrenching sight of such a tiny human being, quickly gives way to admiration for their sense of strength and their will to survive against all odds.”
Worldwide, more than 15 million babies are born too soon and more than one million babies die before their first birthday. Preterm birth, (before 37 weeks of pregnancy), is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of serious and sometimes lifelong health problems, such as breathing problems, jaundice, developmental delays, vision loss and cerebral palsy.
On World Prematurity Day, observed each November 17, the March of Dimes joins with parent groups and organizations in countries around the world to raise awareness about premature birth and how it can be prevented. Research supported by March of Dimes is helping to find the cause and prevention of pre -term birth.
One child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could be prevented from with a vaccine. Why? Because one in five children lack access to the life-saving immunizations that keep children healthy.
Anne is proud to be a Global Advocate for Shot@Life, a United Nation’s Foundation campaign which aims to provide access to basic life-saving immunizations to children in the developing world. In April 2012, Anne attended and spoke at the launch of Shot@Life in Atlanta, USA which was also attended by Kathy Calvin, Chief Executive Officer, United Nations Foundation; and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.
Through her photographic work, sharing of images, social media and press engagements Anne advocates for the importance of raising money and awareness to provide vaccines that prevent four key diseases in the third world; pneumonia, diarrhoea, measles and polio. Every year 1.5 million children die every year from these vaccine preventable diseases. In fact, pneumonia and diarrhea are the two biggest killers of children under five, and account for more than one-third of childhood deaths worldwide.