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Photographer's Note

Today I will try my luck with a rather different kind of photo, one that may not please so many of you.

This is from a village called Linoghin, situated in Burkina Faso, roughly 70-80 km northeast of the capital Ouagadougou. In the winter of 1982 I travelled through West Africa doing freelance writing. I came to this village in the company of some people working for the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) on an inspection tour of "liberated areas". This referred to areas that had been liberated from a disease called onchocerciasis, more commonly known as river blindness.

Many parts of Burkina Faso (then known as Upper Volta) and other African countries were badly hit by this disease caused by parasitic worms spread by flies living along the rivers. When the worms get into a human body they cause a lot of problems, the ultimate one being blindness by gnawing their way into the person's eyes.

Big efforts were made to eradicate the flies by spraying insecticides from helicopters. When an area had been declared freed from the insects new villages were built and people from still infected areas were resettled there. Linoghin was one of those new villages.

While growing cotton was the main source of income for the settlers of Linoghin, some people also found other ways of making a living. These women had formed a cooperative growing sorghum (or maybe wheat, I really don't remember) and proudly posed for a photo along with some of their crop.

I haven't kept my notes from this visit, more than 30 years ago, and I didn't even mention these women in my diary from the long journey. Probably I realized immediately that I couldn't write anything about them, so I just talked to them for a few minutes to be polite. I decided to show this photo anyway, because I think there is something touching about the way they have lined up to pose for my camera along with the few bags containing the fruit of their own hard labour.

Eventually I wrote a story about the campaign against river blindness and even managed to sell it to a major newspaper.

I have scanned this from an Ilford FP4 B&W negative. You can see two scans of Kodachrome slides as workshops. One shows cotton ready for delivery from Linoghin, in the other you will get a glimpse of the struggle against river blindness.

Here is a larger version of the main photo.

For my next upload I will again go somewhere else.

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Additional Photos by Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 9732 W: 513 N: 18865] (83464)
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