EXPOSURE

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.

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Make Peace

This man has polio.

This is his home.

This is the toilet he shares with more than 200 people.

A fellow resident returns home after work.

The child of a polio sufferer plays with his ‘toys’.

This is how one man walks to work.

The Peace Project is helping to transform the lives of thousands of people in Sierra Leone.

With your support even greater change is possible.

Please visit : http://www.indiegogo.com/makepeace2012

Thank you.

Michele D’Acosta

UK Director of Operations for The Peace Project.

Peace and Illumination

As some of you may know I work for a small charity called The Peace Project (www.thepeaceproject.com). The focus of our charity has been on distributing crutches to thousands of amputees and polio sufferers in Sierra Leone backed up by our philosophy that the first step to sustainable peace is personal mobility. In Sierra Leone, thousands of men, women and children suffered the horror of having one (or several) of their limbs forcibly amputated.

In an overwhelming number of cases the amputations were carried out by drugged child soldiers in an assault on the nation’s population that rebel forces dubbed ‘Operation No Living Thing’. The reasons behind these crimes against humanity are manifold, but for the purpose of simplicity, the hunger of certain interest groups to control the regions of Sierra Leone that produce diamonds (blood diamonds) was the primary motivation for embarking on a civil war that killed and maimed thousands of people and scorched the earth of one of the most beautiful countries in our world.

A decade after the civil war ended, there are still thousands of amputees who are forced to crawl on all fours to get around due to the impoverished situation of disabled Sierra Leoneans who cannot afford the cost of a pair of crutches. In order to raise awareness (and funds) for disabled people in Sierra Leone I am willing to do whatever it takes to help relieve the suffering of thousands who live in a country that is a long way from my home. In addition, many of the people who read this blog contribute their time, energy, love and financial resources to making this work possible.

Please may I take this opportunity to thank you — Eliza, Sarah, Rosendo, Elizabeth, Kentake, Dreaddaze, Lewis, Michael, Akila, Chris, Jc, Pablo, Cecelia, Bridget and Elias. And a final thank you to Lisa Schultz who founded The Peace Project in 2010. Please join with us on our next initiative to build the first Peace Centre in Sierra Leone. http://www.cultivatewines.com/cause/6100/

Thank you  again — and please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like further information on how to get involved in the work that we’re doing. Peace and blessings to you. Michele.

 








How The Other Half Loves…

The Polio Victims Association Home in Grafton, near Freetown, Sierra Leone. June, 2011.

On June 13, 2011, I visited The Polio Victims Association Home in connection with my work for The Peace Project.

Polio respects no boundaries. In Sierra Leone, the bombing of all hospitals and health facilities and the evacuation of aid workers during the nineties meant that polio vaccinations were interrupted and polio spread rapidly during this time.

Polio has been eradicated in the UK since 1982. Yet poverty and war continue to perpetuate this easily preventable yet cruel disease in Sierra Leone. There are thousands of polio stricken disabled people in Sierra Leone. Some of the youngest in the country are housed at the Grafton Home for Polio Orphans.

In Sierra Leone polio is considered to be a curse and the women who bears a polio child is cast out on the streets and the child is taken into the forest to have a ceremony conducted to rid the child of the demon. Often the child is left to die, or abandoned in the streets, or brought to orphanages. A child born with polio is considered to be of less worth than a dog and disabled people in general are frequently beaten and harassed for no reason except for their disability. Polio orphaned children are the most vulnerable people in this poor country.
(Source: International Foundation for Disabled Orphans)

Walking past London’s Harrods store on June 15, 2011 and seeing this window display for Veuve Clicquot.

Veuve Clicquot is opening its first champagne bar and boutique at London’s Harrods store.

The Veuve Clicquot boutique is located on the first floor alongside international luxury fashion labels. There is also a lounge area with gray and yellow tones and glass topped tables for a more quiet place to contemplate money spent. The Boutique also offers the latest Veuve Clicquot gifts, such as the new Ice Jacket and Traveller and other stylish champagne accessories, sold exclusively through Harrods.
(Source: Luxuo, Luxury Blog)

On June 14, 2011, I travelled from Sierra Leone to London. In the space of 48 hours, I received my greatest lesson in How The Other Half Loves… The gap between rich and poor. The spectrum of having and not having… The distance we need to travel.