SALT FLATS, GREAT SALT LAKE
I'd never seen weather like this before. Rays of light pierced through the heavy clouds and illuminated patches of sand and salt and sagebrush. It was magical. Plus these two are just lovely.
This past summer I spent two more months in the South Pacific.
So many photos to post, so little time...
These young boys woke up at 4am every morning, ran 3 miles, rowed 11 miles, then went to school all day.
After school they ran 3 more miles, rowed 11 more miles, then returned to their homes long after dark to do homework before falling asleep for a few hours. Then the next morning they woke up and did it all again.
They were training for the Samoan national rowing competition, a tradition that honors the ancient Samoans who first inhabited the islands.
Their dedication triggered empathy and reverence in me.
I feel blessed that I was able to meet them and ride with them.
I've taken four excursions to Samoa doing publicity and advocacy for medical teams.
Here's a short documentary I made about Rheumatic Rescue in Western Samoa from June 2014.
A short P.S.A. with the captain of the Samoan national rugby team, who survived rheumatic heart disease as a child. Kahn has become an inspiration to many children throughout the Pacific Islands, especially those currently suffering from rheumatic heart disease.
I spent this past summer in the Pacific, working with a clinical, educational and research program called Rheumatic Rescue. They study, diagnose and prevent Rheumatic Heart Disease in children around the world, and their recent efforts have been focussed in Western Samoa.
Many people don't realize this, but the strep throat virus, if left untreated (which is often the case in developing countries), can adapt into Rheumatic Fever and, in some cases, Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD), which can be fatal. Samoa records one of the highest rates of RHD in the world, approximately 14% higher than neighboring countries. The reason for this is unknown, but Rheumatic Rescue is working to unlock the answers—which could lead to improved prevention measures around the world.
The disease is completely preventable, yet it claims the lives of roughly 233,000 people each year.
The mission of Rheumatic Rescue is threefold: One, educate children and their caregivers about the severity of the disease and give them knowledge to prevent it outright. Two, screen children for early signs of the disease, and if signs appear, ensure the children get the necessary treatment (cases of Rheumatic Fever can be halted in their progression by monthly penicillin shots, but advanced cases of RHD require complicated open-heart surgery, which developing countries like Western Samoa can't provide. Serious cases are flown to New Zealand for the procedure, but the cost can be completely debilitating for families, who might not see enough money in a lifetime for the medical and travel expenses required. Rheumatic Rescue works to secure funding for these families). Three, the program collects data in hopes of finding a genetic link that could lead to higher rates of susceptibility. Most importantly, Rheumatic Rescue works to ensure their efforts are sustainable by working in tandem with Samoan health care providers and government officials.
The Samoan tradition is replete with legends of prowess, honor, love and sacrifice. More than telling a story of Rheumatic Rescue, these images add a contemporary visual volume to their rich legacy—showcasing, inadequately, the inner beauty and strength of the Samoan people. The depths of their hearts are truly immeasurable.
THESE IMAGES WERE TAKEN BY A DEAR FRIEND JAKE BUNTJER AND MYSELF, MAY 2013
THEY WERE DISPLAYED IN A GALLERY AT UTAH VALLEY UNIVERSITY, AUGUST 2013
FOR MORE INFORMATION, GO HERE & HERE
clark adam goldsberry. photographer.