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Mariella Furrer September 18, 2009

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Ethiopia.

Patient with Trachoma at eye clinic, Ethiopia 2005

Mariella Furrer (b. 1968, Swiss & Lebanese) has lived in Africa her whole life. She attended the Documentary Photography & Photojournalism Program at the International Center of Photography in NYC (1993), and has since been working as a freelance photojournalist based between Kenya and South Africa. She has covered Africa extensively and has worked on stories in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.  Mariella has been awarded grants from the 3P Foundation, France and the Hasseleblad Foundation, Sweden. She has received an Honorable Mention from Unicef Photo of the Year 2005 and has been nominated for the Santa Fe Prize for Photography 2006. Mariella has been documenting child sexual abuse in South Africa for the past six  years, which will be published in book form.

About the Photograph:

“Desta Ayanew has suffered from trachoma, for decades, waits to have her eyelids operated on during an eye camp at the Fires Wega Health Post. Trachoma is a highly infectious disease, which affects the eyelids, inverting them and causing the eye lashes to scratch the cornea. Desta who has gone blind due to trachoma keeps her eyes shut almost permanently because blinking is too painful. Her eyes are tearing constantly and she has streaks down her face from the salt left over when her tears have dried up. Her son and his wife and children look after her. The eye camp for trachoma was organized by the district health department. I loved working on this story, firstly because Ethiopia is an amazing country, and secondly because although I had grown up in Africa I had never heard of trachoma before. For me, this was a great story to highlight because trachoma, although a highly infectious disease is in fact very easy to treat and to prevent – if there is adequate funding.”

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