Polio in Sierra Leone

British award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker Michele D’Acosta is seeking to transform the lives of 170 African polio victims who are struggling to stay alive in the former British colony of Sierra Leone.

With the help of an international photography competition, D’Acosta’s goal is to bring global attention to the desperate plight of these forgotten people – and use her photo-journalism as a tool to help leverage medical attention, food, clean water and proper housing for the men, women and children that live in cramped and unsanitary conditions in a bombed out building on Pademba Road, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Michele D’Acosta began her film and television career as a reporter for the BBC – reporting on the break-up of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and then going on to produce a slew of television documentaries with the high profile and controversial director, Nick Broomfield. However, it wasn’t until D’Acosta had a wake-up call to change her life from television producer to a photographer and filmmaker working for positive social change that she took (for her) the unusual step of submitting her images of polio victims to the fifth annual EXPOSURE photography competition hosted by the See Me Gallery in New York City.

The winner of the EXPOSURE competition will be decided by public vote. More importantly, if she wins, D’Acosta will donate the winning prize money of $1,500 to set up a fund to kick-start a lifeline of financial support and medical help for these forgotten polio victims.

It is Michele’s personal belief that a country is judged by the wellbeing of its most vulnerable citizens. Sierra Leone is one of the ten poorest countries in the world and one of top ten diamond producing countries in the world.  In supporting this critical Worldwide Wave of Action — please join her in taking action on behalf of disabled people whose plight is invisible to the mainstream media.

To vote now, click on https://icosta.see.me/exposure2014. Voting closes on Monday March 31st, 2014.

For more information, Michele can be reached at Michele@thepeaceproject.com By phone on +44 (0) 7417436097, on Twitter @michelepeaceday or Skype at micheleadacosta.

Thank you so much. I look forward to hearing from you.



55 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ericaspringer
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 02:38:58

    omg. haunting. voted! xo


  2. Beauty Along the Road
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 03:02:31

    Hi Michele, you are back. I missed seeing your posts!
    Have you considered using a crowd-funding site like Kickstarter for your project? I will go and vote now…


  3. draliman
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 07:48:53

    Long time no see! This looks like a very worthwhile cause, I shall bookmark this and see about voting when I get home from work.


  4. Arifah
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 11:38:02

    Amazing work. Voted. I feel a poem stirring in me from this. If something comes I’ll share with you. I’ve passed on to my digital network. Thank you!


    • Michele D'Acosta
      Feb 19, 2014 @ 12:41:09

      Arifah, love and blessings and thank you so much for voting. So appreciate you taking a moment to do that. I do hope you write a poem. Your poem would be amazing to share with the polio victims in Sierra Leone. And thank you for passing this cause along to your digital network. Have a blessed day. Michele


  5. Michael Zack
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 15:37:12

    Beautiful Michelle, my parents both had polio so I know how it’s effects are irreversible.  They only hope is the vaccination.  So I hope there is a vaccination program in Sierra Leone. I’m votin’ for ya’.  Love Michael.


    • Michele D'Acosta
      Feb 22, 2014 @ 23:32:03

      Dearest Michael, I’m deeply touched by what you shared about your parents. We’ve never talked about this before…. And I very much appreciate you taking the time to vote for this cause. The vaccination program was interrupted during Sierra Leone’s civil war. And, as you can see for yourself, the devastating life situation of being disabled in one of the poorest countries of the world. Hope your new life is wonderful in Brazil. Love Michele


  6. FreeRangeCow
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 18:19:38

    Oh, good luck! I’m going to vote, now!


  7. emma1951.wordpress.com
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 18:36:56

    A truly laudable effort to give of Yourself! Excellent photography – so much soul revealed… Theirs… and Yours. (I don’t use the social media so did not see how to vote) But beautiful work!


  8. pndrgn99
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 19:39:42

    I have long known you were amazing, little did I know you had done this much for the rest of the world. Bless you


  9. laurie27wsmith
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 21:46:27

    Great to see you back Michele. You’ve obviously been very busy and on a worthy project. These pictures definitely move a person. We tend to forget that diseases like polio and smallpox are still rampant in some countries. I’m attempting to login to see.me so I can vote.


    • Michele D'Acosta
      Feb 22, 2014 @ 23:41:30

      Laurie, you always inspire me with your sensitive observations… and it’s good to be back and connecting with friends, fellow bloggers and this incredible community on WordPress. Thank you so much for your vote. Hope you are well. Peace and blessings, Michele


      • laurie27wsmith
        Feb 23, 2014 @ 01:31:52

        Why thank you Michele, I can be serious at times. WordPress certainly is a vibrant community that seems t cater for everybody. Yes I managed to log into see.me and I cast my vote. I wish you all the very best with your photo competition Michele.

      • Michele D'Acosta
        Feb 25, 2014 @ 02:11:37

        Dearest Laurie, thank you so much for voting. Every vote counts for the people of Sierra Leone struggling with polio. And, yes, WordPress is a wonderful vibrant community — thanks to good people like you, Laurie. All my best, Michele

  10. Hanne T. Fisker
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 23:49:42

    Michele, you are such a beautiful soul! Voting right away!


  11. Hanne T. Fisker
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 23:50:36

    And wonderful to see you here again. It seems like ages has passed.


  12. Bupe Rose
    Feb 20, 2014 @ 02:35:37

    Wonderful initiative. Voted. All the best.


  13. Renard Moreau
    Feb 20, 2014 @ 18:47:08

    [ Smiles ] Great topic!

    By the way, it has been a while since I have seen you on WordPress. It is nice to know that you are still blogging.


  14. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Feb 23, 2014 @ 20:15:11

    Your pictures each tell a story.. they are pieces of art.. I would love to hear more… and of course I’ll vote.


    • Michele D'Acosta
      Feb 25, 2014 @ 01:52:52

      Björn, I am deeply moved by your appreciation. Thank you so much. I will be posting more about this African polio community in the coming days and weeks. In addition, thank you for voting. I have great admiration for you and your work. I wish you continued success in all that you do. Peace and blessings, Michele


  15. Katalina4
    Feb 25, 2014 @ 17:14:18

    Voted! Fantastic project. In heart and imagery.


    • Michele D'Acosta
      Feb 26, 2014 @ 00:58:27

      Thank you for your kind words and your important vote. Please feel free to share this project with your network. Wishing you continued success in all that you do. Best, Michele


  16. cherylmoore
    Feb 27, 2014 @ 13:51:51

    Hi Michele, you have my vote, and the very best of luck. I hope you win, especially as you are aiming to donate the money to this worthy cause.


  17. Afrofusionlounge
    Mar 02, 2014 @ 08:23:54

    I wonder why I didn’t come across this before. A very noble effort indeed. How did you get to visit Sierra Leone, let alone find out about the polio victims on Pademba Road? Would love to talk with you further about your efforts (I did vote) and your background. When will you be back in Sierra Leone, if at all? I may be there in the summer, definitely at the end of the year. All the best to you!


    • Michele D'Acosta
      Mar 03, 2014 @ 10:58:18

      Thanks so much for visiting my blog and voting for this cause. I would love to be in contact with you via email and find out if there’s a way for us to collaborate on this project. How I came to be in Sierra Leone is a very long story…. which dates back to my time as a BBC journalist in London — a time which coincided with the start of the civil war in Sierra Leone. In terms of meeting the polio victims on Pademba Road… I was riding on the back of a motorbike (taxi) on my way to a meeting at the United Nations when I saw a polio victim crawling on his hands and knees as he begged for money in the street. I immediately asked the motorbike taxi-driver to stop… and he acted as the translator because the polio sufferer didn’t speak any English: and from that moment, I was led to what still feels to this day like a date with destiny. Below is a link to a 4-minute video that I shot of the Pademba Road polio victims. Thank you again and I will email you later today. Blessings and love, Michele


  18. Arifah
    Mar 04, 2014 @ 00:25:04

    Reblogged this on Art of Receptivity and commented:
    This is a remarkable piece of photo-journalism. It’s astounding that there’s still polio cases out in the world. Now as you read you’ll see the prize money seems small. You may even ask yourself how can that do anything? I did. Then I realized that silence is the real killer. Sometimes silence is necessary for growth this is not one of those moments.

    Also, money goes much, much father in Africa than it does in the US, for example. The power of $1 is significant to many Third World areas. (I really don’t like that term…that another subject.)

    I hope you read this provocative piece of work and then vote for Michele D’Acosta through the EXPOSURE competition.



  19. fatfreddysproject
    Mar 04, 2014 @ 18:29:13

    Michele, it gives me hope when someone engages for others. These times seem to be too much about the individual and not about community. Sure I gave you my vote.


  20. Just Another Nature Enthusiast
    Mar 07, 2014 @ 19:52:06

    Hello Michele- Your photography is so compelling. I will follow your blog to learn how your efforts are progressing. I wonder if the Gates Foundation would be interested in your mission…


  21. Michelle 'Chaella' Boddie
    Mar 09, 2014 @ 17:19:57

    Great work! Learned about you from Hanne T. Fisker’s post, here: http://htfisker.com/2014/02/25/waves-cliffs-and-sea-a-dance-of-threes/


  22. thirdeyemom
    Mar 14, 2014 @ 00:22:53

    Wow this is powerful stuff Michelle. I have also written a bit about polio as well but this is a part that I am not so familiar with, the impact on people in Sierra Leone. I would be honored to feature a guest post of your work on my site as well to help spread the word. If you are interested please let me know. Very emotionally touching photography. Wow.


  23. Trackback: #Africa #Polio Campaign #Photography | johndwmacdonald
  24. MDW
    Jun 16, 2014 @ 01:55:56

    Have you ever heard of the Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation? Here is a link http://www.mrofoundation.org/ to their site. They provide grants for documentary photography and short film. I know Manuel, he lives part time in Zurich and part time here in Rochester. He’s a good guy.


    • Michele D'Acosta
      Jun 17, 2014 @ 14:31:36

      Hi Mark, thank you for bringing the Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation to my attention. I’ve looked at the site and their mission is truly remarkable. I look forward to submitting my work when submissions re-open in November. Manuel must be an amazing guy. My thanks to you once more. All best wishes and every success to you.


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