Images and post by Mark Tuschman.
Mark Tuschman is an award winning photographer who has traveled extensively intentionally for many foundations, NGOs and corporate social responsibility programs. He has a passionate interest in promoting the basic human rights of women and girls and plans to publish a book: Faces of Courage: Intimate Portraits of Women on the Edge documenting the lack of autonomy of women and girls in the developing world and all the efforts being made to empower them. For more info, please see his Facebook and Kickstarter pages.
This past April I had the good fortune to go to Kenya to document some of the programs for Management Sciences for Health as part of winning the Grand Jury Prize for the photo contest they co-sponsored with socialdocumentary.net.
Much of their work involves making sure that clinics have the medications and vaccinations they need to keep their patients healthy. I was quite impressed by the robustness and size of so many of the infants at the clinics yet there was a downside to it too. Quite a few of the mothers that I photographed near Meru and Embu clinics were no more than 15 or 16 years old. They were unwed, had very little schooling and now at their very young age, they had the responsibility of raising a child, with little hope for any further education or economic opportunities. I was certainly heartened to see how well the babies were taken care of with proper nutrition and vaccinations, but there seems to be a big need for keeping young girls in school and providing them with safe methods of contraception.
Through photography, I want to pay tribute to the women I have met and to the millions of other women who share their lack of autonomy over their own lives and bodies. I hope the photos I take will bring these women and their stories to the forefront of world consciousness. Below are the photos I took while visiting the maternal and infant health clinics in Kisumu and Meru, Kenya. As you will see from the photos- the clinics are providing excellent and necessary care for mothers and their infants, but the age of many of the new mothers shows the urgent need for enhanced access to education and contraceptives in Kenya.