Hackney and Malawi may seem like a world away from each other, but photographer Jenny Lewis has created a link between the two destinations by taking her One Day Young project, which began in East London, across the globe to southeastern Africa.
One Day Young involves Lewis capturing mothers and their babies in their first day of life, a time which should only be filled with excitement and joy as a parents looks forward to life ahead with their child. However, what if during this period you were instead faced with anxiety and worry, fearing that in the beginning, most fragile hours of your baby’s life they could encounter infections that have fatal consequences? This is exactly what women of Malawi endure as they are forced to give birth in health centres that have no access to clean running water, no adequate bathrooms or sterilisation equipment, and thus be treated by a team of midwives who are unable to maintain necessary levels of sanitation. Lewis took her project international to highlight these issues in conjunction with charity WaterAid and their new Deliver Life appeal, spending 7 days with mothers in Malawi and documenting their stories of delivering in these adverse circumstances.
Jenny Lewis’ time away also allowed her an insight into the shared elements of female experience; despite the disparity of their environments, she witnessed women in both Hackney and Malawi feeling the same euphoria and victory of having given birth, and ever present in her photography is the utter strength of the female body. However with up to 20 neonatal cases of sepsis infection being diagnosed every month at Simulemba (the Malawian health centre where Lewis focused her photography) its clear that work needs to be done so that every woman can also give birth in safe, hygienic conditions.
Jenny Lewis’ project also draws similarities across women from different cultures;
Source: WaterAid/Jenny Lewis