It’s not all the time that I get to sit down and tell someone the story behind a photograph; usually I post all my photos in a group post or album and it’s only if someone asks that I get to talk about the photo. But so many of my photos have stories behind them that I think are worth sharing, so occasionally, I want to post a single photo with its accompanying story.
In 2011, I went on my very first trip as a journalist. Even though I was still in school, I was given the opportunity to travel to Managua, Nicaragua with Med4Nicaragua (now called Med4) so I could document a medical mission trip. The trip was a week long, but the surgeries took place over three days (because of travel time, planning, etc). I was completely in awe as I watched a team of 22 complete 33 surgeries in just three days! It was incredible to be given access to the whole process; I was able to follow patients from their consultation, to the operating room and through to the recovery room.
But despite all of that, perhaps the most amazing part of the trip was an afternoon that I did not spend at the hospital.
There was one patient, Veronica, who had come in for a tubal ligation. She had four children, one of whom was a 15-year-old boy who could not walk or speak due to a mental condition. After her surgery, she had no form of transportation to get home, so our team gave her a ride. This visit was the most eye-opening experience of my trip, and possibly one of the single most profound experiences of my life. Veronica lived in a very small house, if you could call it that. There was one hut-like home that was constructed out of concrete and a tin roof. Inside, the rooms were tinier than the smallest New York City residences. Clothing was draped over a rope stretched across the room, as there was no room for furniture besides a single mattress, laid down on the floor. A make-shift kitchen was set up outside and there were no doors or locks anywhere in Veronica’s home, a fact that was frightening — I had been told not to go out at night as to avoid being held at knifepoint.
Despite the home’s very modest appearance, Veronica proudly showed a handful of us around her home, picking up shabbily framed photos with love and care and explaining them to us (in Spanish, despite knowing that most of us were not fluent) with broad, enthusiastic gestures. She was so proud and happy that we had chosen to visit her home and she welcomed us with open arms.
As we were leaving, I turned around to wave goodbye. Veronica and her two youngest children were standing closer to us waving goodbye, but one of her sons was sitting further back on the patio. As I waved, he held a piece of candy we had given him. I picked up my camera to take one last photo, and he tossed the candy in the air. I took a single photo.