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Ayesha Vellani


This man from Azad Kashmir, like most impoverished people afflicted by leprosy, was unaware that the disease was curable. Many years elapsed before he somehow heard about the Adelheid Leprosy Centre (MALC) and was able to come to Karachi to seek treatment. By the time he arrived the disease had left him with stumps for hands and feet. When I photographed him in 1999 his fierce independence set him apart from all the other patients. He had just bathed himself and changed into fresh clothes. Sitting on the edge of his bunk he changed the bandages on his stumps unaided, tucking the loose ends in with his chaqoo (knife). At lunchtime I saw him peeling and cutting an onion to eat with his plate of rice. He held the onion between the stumps of his feet and, with the chaqoo held between the stumps of his hands, he cut neat onion rings. Later, grasping a pencil in the same manner, he wrote something on a piece of paper. Then he got off his bunk, put on his special shoes and walked away with purposeful intent.

Everyone has to face challenges in life. Some face greater challenges than others. For some, life itself is a challenge.

I derive inspiration from photographing people who deal with their challenges. This can often best be seen in moments of everyday life.

Ayesha Vellani, Pakistan
By arrangement with
Drik Picture Library Ltd,

New Internationalist issue 355 magazine cover This article is from the April 2003 issue of New Internationalist.
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