… and pondering the deaths of some of my beloved friends in Sierra Leone. Victims of Ebola… or a fate worse than death?
When I was not yet three years old, John Richard and Grace Elizabeth Ingram adopted me from an orphanage in southwest London. At the time, my dad was the minister of a thriving church and I was the fourth (and youngest) adopted kid in my family. My heritage is of African descent and my adoptive parents are Caucasian. When I was four, a stroke left my father paralysed down his left side; he died when I was 18.
Due to the stroke, it was difficult for dad to speak so we spent countless hours communicating by playing games of dominoes. Dad would rest his paralysed arm on his card table and play a ferocious game of dominoes with his “good arm.” Invariably he won. Ironically, my dad’s nickname for me was “Topsy.” Even if I didn’t win against him at dominoes he expected me to come top of the class in all my school subjects. I did my best not to let him down.
If I quiet the voices in my head I can still hear the cranky squeaks of his wheelchair. The clicking made by the calipers that were attached to his
legs below the knee. The incessant wheeze from the asthma that attended the paralysis. His body was his burden.
As a child there were times when I longed to pick him up and carry him on my back. Far and away from his wheelchair and back to the fleeting memory I had of him as my able-bodied dad. Now that I’m an adult, I believe there are no accidents. My dad is my role model and I have found my dream job improving the lives of persons with disabilities in Sierra Leone, West Africa.
Thank you dad! Happy Father’s Day.
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.
My thanks to Jennifer David at http://writingsofamrs.wordpress.com/ for featuring my work on PAY DAY Thursdays. Peace and blessings, everyone. Much love. Michele x
So here we are again with another Pay Day Thursday.
I have been so enjoying doing these Thursdays and having the opportunity to work with so many fabulous artists.
This week I would like to introduce you to Michele. https://micheledacosta.wordpress.com/ She is a beautiful person with a fantastic heart and spirit. Her photography and poetry is mystical and engaging.
We came together to collaborate on a cause and a poem.
Please take a moment to get to know Michele.
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An African boy looks up at the camera.
His father is disabled and he’s playing with his father’s crutches.
The family live on a $1 a day and these crutches are the only ‘toys’ the boy has to play with.
For this week’s WordPress photo challenge on the theme of ‘Up’, I’m wondering what is uppermost in this boy’s mind at the moment I took the photograph.
Commentary No. 1
Commentary No. 2
I wander away from the screen
Tear holes in the routine.
For a brief moment, I have time on my hands.
Where do I begin?
I will hold your eyes, see me.
You watch as I read the songlines on your palms, caress your forks in the road.
You can breathe in, but not out again
If you so choose.
Where is your heart’s compass? Where’s your heart’s Due North?
It can take time for messages to come ashore.
It can take time for the vowels to sail forth past the ego:
The consonants seem to take even longer. God knows
It takes injury for this mesmerist to rein in her consciousness:
To peel the old paint on her story.
Only through art can I languish and pretend not to exist.
Commentary No. 3
Writing brought by abstract painting to the paper.
Commentary No. 4
With a slow burning heart I drive to the pharmacy with my guitar all the hours of the 24.
Fame is a drug on prescription all the hours of the 24.
After a lifetime of searching I found my biological father on Facebook. My shadow self is battling to hold onto me. She’s cutting my clothes to smithereens.
Commentary No. 5
One day I will write about inner peace.
Growing in seedpods.
Nurtured in short bursts of poetry.
Seagulls hover over me
Waiting for yesterday’s bread.
Let the NOW be of use to you angel, seer, believer,
Friend, ally, I love you.
How do we reconcile our unconscious desires?
How do we fly above ourselves to
highlight, to minimize, to free
ourselves from the loop of assumptions,
groove of greed.
Juice of injustice.
Commentary No. 6
An Englishman rolls down his car window to shout the word nigger at me.
A white colleague calls me a cross between a dog and a slave.
How do I reconcile this information?
Do I laugh it off? Do I take myself less seriously?
Transcend my pride
My feeling of total wipeout.
With unconditional love…
“I love you, please forgive me, I’m sorry, thank you.”
Commentary No. 7
Here I write in the house I was conceived in. If I am mistaken, I go about it quietly, fastidious as I am in matters of delicacy. My great great grand-mother Alice (the ancestor with the long tail) never tired of telling me that forgetfulness is for the mind with pinhole capacity.
“How are you my darling apparition?” I say giving Alice an impromptu kiss. A line coruscates her forehead. She waits. She frowns. She tumbles into the other world.
After an interval, Alice re-appears as a shimmering blur. Her blurred outline manifests a balance beam and she hops up onto the four-inch wide platform and strikes a pose in the dark recess of our wooden house: empowering the occupants to set sail to the New World.
Whether our family reaches its destination depends upon the wellbeing of our slaves.
Commentary No. 8
In Sierra Leone, West Africa, everything is broken in pieces strewn apart.
My ancestors’ medals that were pinned to their chests are now buried in the family archives.
Today in our Freetown neighborhood, it’s aching with rain. I’m waiting for my sister to finish up her meeting with the Director of Reparations.
In the ether her words comingle,
bare her soul like an abstract painting.
I wish I had the perfect umbrella for her; but I don’t.
In Sierra Leone we’re all in the waiting room.
Commentary No. 9
Limbo only meant to be temporary, not held in this position, in this way for all my life.
Commentary No. 10
The Nomad Commentaries — Artist’s Statement.
In attempting to document my personal experience, I found myself in an autobiographical dilemma. I was yet to become socially aware and still had to become politically conscious of the black diaspora which informed my artistic roots. But when I came to articulate this journey, I realized the Eurocentric linear narrative formula could never adequately explain what I was feeling, and I searched for an art form to combine the diaphanous threads of my lost indigenous peoples, my Eurocentric scholastic disciplines and my vivid childhood as a child of the punk era: a child of The Clash and The Sex Pistols and the clash of cultures.
My early training as a dancer gave me the courage to investigate and discover that it is vital to find a common universality, a non-linear language. The following years were immersed in transcribing what I felt to be messages from my ancient past: layers of identity blurring boundaries and stirring my cellular memory. It took several years before my instincts led to me to produce documentaries as a catalyst for positive social change.
Furthermore, by employing text, video and mixed media and floating together photographic, painted and digital images, I discovered how to connect the fragments of my mixed African-European identity and begin the journey of reaching outside of myself to communicate messages of faith, healing, oneness and love.