Postcard from my latest visit to Chamrajnagar, India

Here I am, on my first assignment of 2014 after a solid chunk of time in London delivering on assignments from Southern Africa and Russia and enjoying the Christmas and New Year festivities with loved ones. Once again, I’m back in Chamrajnagar in the South Indian state of Karnataka, working on assignment with overseas disability charity CBM and one of their implementing partners, Mobility India. Perhaps you’ll remember the postcard I sent you back in June last year of three colourfully dressed little girls standing in an equally colourful doorway?

humanitarian development travel culture dance photography india karnataka chamrajnagar 43587 Postcard from my latest visit to Chamrajnagar, India

Bathed in the evening sun, children demonstrate a traditional dance in Chamrajnagar, Southern India.

Today’s postcard is made from an image I shot just after wrapping up my work one day earlier this week. I had been capturing how a particular After-School Club Coordinator used methods taught by The Teacher Foundation (TTF) to involve a child with speech and hearing difficulties more effectively in activities. As I was packing up my equipment, a few of the children asked if I’d like to be treated to a small show of traditional dance. Of course I did!!

SmileTrain – Christmas comes early for Russian cleft patients

I’m sure you’ll have come across Vincent’s story recently, either on my site or in my December newsletter. I’ve had a lot of really positive feedback from people who have felt tremendously moved by this 43-year-old Malawian’s journey and the life-changing work that SmileTrain is doing with people born with cleft lips and palates. This organisation and its partner hospitals really are miracle workers, and it’s been a great pleasure for me to bring you Vincent’s and other behind-the-scenes stories from their work. During November, I travelled to Russia with the same mission.

SmileTrain’s work in Volgograd, Russia

When I was greeted by Dr Irina Fomenko in the city of Volgograd in Russia’s Southern Federal District, she stressed that “Russia is not like Africa, what you’ll see here will be very different”. She was not wrong. Their system of medical care reminded my of the National Health Service (NHS) in my own country, the UK. Everybody is supposed to have access to a system of universal healthcare, as Russia’s constitution gives all citizens the right to free healthcare under a State insurance scheme. Nevertheless, there are plenty of cases that slip through the net. Stella, pictured here, is one example. She is an ethnic Armenian, and her parents have been struggling to get State insurance for her. This is where SmileTrain comes in.

IMG42328 SmileTrain   Christmas comes early for Russian cleft patients

CLICK THE IMAGE to explore the gallery.

Gallery of images

You can CLICK THE IMAGE above to view all 126 images in a gallery of photographs from my assignment for SmileTrain in Volgograd. You’ll meet Stella and her family, as well as baby Valentina and her parents and a young man called Kirill and his step-mother. Valentina and Kirill’s cleft cases are particularly pronounced. Valentina was born with a complete unilateral cleft lip and alveolus, while Kirill has so far had several surgeries since being born with a complete bilateral cleft lip and palate, the most difficult type of cleft to correct. Though both children can avail of support from State insurance, SmileTrain provides a means for such severe cases to come to the front of the waiting list. I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know all three of these delightful children!

Usage rights may be purchased for all of these images, but note that the photographer must be credited and reference made to SmileTrain’s work.