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.