Entry Title: "Akia-Ashianut"
Name: Sean Kerr , United States
Category and Expertise: Deeper Perspective, Non-Professional
Entry Description: Photographs taken on my journey to Uganda in the summer of 2010. Taken on my Nikon D65 on Ilford HP5 Plus ISO 400 b/w film, transferred to digital with a DB-Tech 35mm Film Slide and Negative Scanner.
Story: In the summer of 2010 I traveled to Pallisa, Uganda with Akia-Ashianut (Medicine Blessing in the native language of Ateso), a group of 11 other college students who spent four weeks of the summer serving alongside the staff and volunteers of the Agule Community Health Center. The one building clinic in the Agule Sub-County of Pallisa District was built and is funded by members of the community that it serves who are committed to seeing their community pull itself out of poverty and poor health.
I made the journey to Africa in an attempt to tell the story of this community through written words and captured images to share with others back home. I spent countless hours alongside the medical staff, watching the careful, healing hands of the nurses and listening to the soothing voice of the on staff physician as he addressed the concerns of individuals from the community. In the evenings, we would sit outside and talk as all the local children flocked around us and pressed in close to see the mzungus (white people).
In those conversations, I found myself struggling to tell the story of the community that we were serving. I felt that it was my job to share the story of the clinic, but couldn’t find the words to do so. I was troubled by my inability to put all the emotions and feelings that surrounded us into words and soon found myself wandering the grounds of the clinic, camera in hand, followed by a trail of curious children.
I began to focus on capturing images of our time at the clinic. Soon, I found myself talking to Anneka, one of the leaders of the trip, as I shared my frustrations of being unable to find the words to tell the story of this community. She listened and explained that the people here already had a voice and so did I; those two voices are not the same. As she said this, I began to realize that the only story I could ever tell was the story of my own experiences in this place.
So I began to tell the story of our time at the Agule Community Health Center through the lens of the camera. I worked to capture the raw emotions of life and death, the daily battle of emotions, and the community that embraced us with open hearts.
These images are part of that story.