Photographs and comments by Partners In Health staff

Our photographers have the opportunity to visit with health workers, colleagues, and patients all over the world—many of them women.

“We meet far more women in terms of care and connection to the community and health centers than men,” says Rebecca Rollins, PIH’s chief communications officer.

Women usually bring sick children to clinics or receive care themselves. Teams of nurses—mainly female—are the backbone of these facilities. In communities, health workers who go door to door checking up on patients are invariably women. And at home, mothers and grandmothers care for their own and their neighbors’ families.

The world would be much sicker without women. Here are a few of their stories, told through the eyes of our photographers.

 


Yabom Koroma, Ebola survivor, Sierra Leone

“I listened to her tell her story about losing her father, her husband, two of her children, and her father-in-law to Ebola.”

Photo and comment by Rebecca E. Rollins, chief communications officer, Boston

“I met Yabom Koroma (in yellow) on my first trip to Sierra Leone. We drove to meet her and another Ebola survivor on the street, because we were worried that if we saw them at their homes, they would be kicked out by their community. They would be shunned because Ebola was so feared.

I listened to her story about losing her father, her husband, two of her children, and her father-in-law to Ebola. It was just heartbreaking — one of the most difficult things I’ve listened to.

Four months later, she was considerably better. She was working in an orphanage, taking care of children, which seemed crazy to me. But she said she felt like it was exactly where she needed to be.”

Back to top


Thamar Julmiste, nurse, Haiti

“I remember one nurse because she sang to the babies. She would belt out either Mariah Carey or Céline Dion.”

Photo and comment by Cecille Joan Avila, multimedia specialist, Boston

“I was walking the hospital grounds in Hinche, a place a few hours outside of Port-au-Prince, and passed a small, narrow door. I opened it and was in this neonatal intensive care unit. It’s air-conditioned, white, and pristine, and smells like a swimming pool. There were a ton of nurses in this tiny space, taking care of babies.

I remember one nurse because she sang to the babies. She would belt out either Mariah Carey or Céline Dion. Her name is Thamar Julmiste.”

Back to top


Benitha Germain, nurse-midwife, Haiti

“She sees anywhere from 25 to 35 patients every day just in that clinic, and that doesn’t count the babies she helps deliver.”

Photo and comment by Rebecca E. Rollins, chief communications officer, Boston

“Benitha Germain has been working at our PIH-supported hospital in Belladère, Haiti, since 2002. On this day, she saw patient after patient after patient — all women who were heavily pregnant. She made arrangements, asking them who was going to take them to the hospital. Basic things, but she made sure they were thinking through their birth plans.

She was also the only nurse-midwife on duty. In another part of the hospital, women were giving birth or in labor and she was constantly getting feedback from a runner who was going back and forth and telling her when she was needed. She sees anywhere from 25 to 35 patients every day just in that clinic, and that doesn’t count the babies she helps deliver.

The amount of her energy and personal care that went into every single life — it was really impressive to watch.”

Back to top


Eneless Manyamba, community health worker, Malawi

“She’s the type of participant you hope to have in a training because she asks practical questions.”

Photo and comment by Jeanel Drake, community health learning manager, Boston

“When I photographed our malnutrition training in Malawi in November 2015, one community health worker stood out. This is Eneless Manyamba. Just by watching her in the training you could tell she had a lot of great experience to draw upon.

She’s the type of participant you hope to have in a training because she asks practical questions that help everyone understand the new content and roles.

Community health workers like Eneless are valuable leaders in their communities, and among their peers, and their dedication really shows. I would want someone like her watching out for me if I got sick.”

Back to top


Marther Greain, nursing director, Liberia

“For decades, she’s managed with few staff and supplies, and yet she continues to press on.”

Photo and comment by Jonathan Lascher, chief operating officer, Sierra Leone

“I recently visited Liberia’s National Tuberculosis Annex in Monrovia, which PIH has just started supporting. I met Marther Greain, the nursing director. She has worked at the annex since the late 1980s and has been a tireless advocate for people suffering from TB. For decades, she’s managed with few staff and supplies, and yet she continues to press on. The building is crumbling with holes spotting its roof. I wouldn’t have lasted for nearly 30 years in that facility. She didn’t even look tired. She looked impatient to get her patients the care they deserve.”

Back to top


Shelove Julmiste, earthquake survivor and rehab educator, Haiti

“She worked with PIH’s rehab team and learned how to walk again. And now she works in a rehab center. She’s an advocate for people who think: 'I can’t do this.'”

Photo and comment by Cecille Joan Avila, multimedia specialist, Boston

“Shelove Julmiste got trapped in rubble after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake and lost her lower left leg. She worked with PIH’s rehab team and learned how to walk again. And now she works in a rehab center.

Shelove is an advocate for people who feel: ‘I can’t do this.’ She talks to them about how it’s possible to have a life after losing a limb. It’s amazing that she was able to overcome something so hard and bring it full circle. You wouldn’t know about her trauma. I think for someone going through an amputation or getting a prosthesis, it’s so powerful to talk to her because she’s filled with joy.”

Back to top


Kadiatu Kanu, Ebola survivor, Sierra Leone

“She was beaming as classmates applauded her progress, and opened her notebook for me to show off her work.”

Photo and comment by Jonathan Lascher, chief operating officer, Sierra Leone

“One of my favorite days in Sierra Leone was in Lunsar, a town with a long and difficult history. Just in the last two decades, it has been ravaged by civil war, an exploitative mining industry, and Ebola.

After the Ebola outbreak, PIH began adult literacy classes for survivors. Kadiatu Kanu had just returned to her desk after successfully writing her name on the blackboard. She was beaming as classmates applauded her progress, and opened her notebook for me to show off her work.

I can’t imagine the difficulty confronting her. She survived Ebola and might have to manage ensuing health complications, like uveitis, aches and pains, and mental health issues, among others. She makes money any way she can. She has to buy food and school uniforms for her family. Despite everything that stands in the way of her education, she is in that classroom learning to read and write.”

Back to top


Malulang Letima, maternal health worker, Lesotho

“Malulang was, you could tell, very connected to the woman and her baby, but in a caring and professional way.”

Photo and comment by Rebecca E. Rollins, chief communications officer, Boston

“I met Malulang in Lesotho. She goes from home to home in her community, finding women who are pregnant and making sure they get connected with care.

I followed her to the home of a 19-year-old woman who had just given birth. Malulang was, you could tell, very connected to the woman and her baby, but in a caring and professional way, helping her learn how to feed and hold the baby. She was gently instructive while we were there, but clearly extremely strong and committed. A woman of few words, but with such a powerful presence.”

Back to top


Esther Kabagwira, cancer patient, Rwanda

“She’s 37 and has early stage breast cancer. Every three weeks, she travels for two days from Burundi to Rwanda for chemo.”

Photo and comment by Cecille Joan Avila, multimedia specialist, Boston

“I met Esther Kabagwira* in Rwanda. She’s 37 and has early stage breast cancer. Every three weeks, she travels for two days from Burundi to Rwanda for chemo. She has three children. I was struck that she was by herself. In the United States, patients usually have someone with them. With her family a country away, she had no one. I asked her how she was in Kinyarwanda (the local language). ‘I don’t speak English,’ she replied in perfect English.

I followed her into the infusion center and watched her undergo treatment. I remember moving around trying to figure out the best angle to shoot her. I asked her what she looked forward to after treatment. She said she was excited to go back to her kids.”

Back to top


Matilda Ziyaya, mother, Malawi

“As they were climbing all over her she just kept smiling and I thought, ‘This mother is a pro!’”

Photo and comment by Jeanel Drake, community health learning manager, Boston

“Matilda* caught my eye when she was breastfeeding her twins while waiting for their immunization appointment. She made the work of motherhood look so easy even though she had two very active and alert toddlers demanding her attention at the same time. I loved the ways she wasn’t overwhelmed even though they were literally a handful — or a couple of armfuls. As they were climbing all over her she just kept smiling, and I thought, ‘This mother is a pro!’”

Back to top


Betty John, community health worker, Navajo Nation

“There is very little she wouldn’t do for her patients. She chops wood for them if they need it.”

Photo and comment by Cecille Joan Avila, multimedia specialist, Boston

“We drove around with Betty John all morning. She’s a community health worker on the Navajo reservation. It’s gorgeous out there. The landscape is different and stark. We went to three different houses to visit Betty’s patients. No one was home, so we just kept driving around until we found them.

Can you imagine driving around every day for hours? And she was so chipper in her giant pickup truck. When she finally saw a patient, Betty was so sweet with her and joking around. There is very little she wouldn’t do for her patients. She chops wood for them if they need it.”

Back to top


Isatta Jalloh, patient, Sierra Leone

“I saw how happy she was to see her community health worker.”

Photo and comment by Jonathan Lascher, chief operating officer, Sierra Leone

“I visited patients with our community health worker team in Yengema, a small town in Kono District. When we arrived at Isatta Jalloh’s home, I saw how happy she was to see her community health worker, and how proud he was to do his job.

Sierra Leone has some of the worst public health statistics in the world. Seeing patients linked to care through community health workers in a very poor place like Yengema is inspiring. This photo is a memento of the day. I know Isatta will always stay with me.”

Back to top


Comments have been condensed and edited for clarity.
 
*Name has been changed.