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Omar by Valarie Napawanetz

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While walking in a wadi or dried river bed outside the village of Illela, Niger where I was working at a women’s health clinic, I met a member of a Tuareg family who was sick with bronchitis. I invited him to come for medical treatment, something which he had been previously denied. From that point on, we were friends, and I spent much of my free time getting to know his extended family. Omar was one of the younger men. While traveling by moped to the large Sunday market in Tahoua, I met him during the rainy season. He had contracted malaria and was very ill. I rushed him to the hospital, but he did not survive the high fever that had already taken over his body. Life in the Sahel is fragile and fleeting. Shot with a Topcon 35mm camera and Tri-X film.

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africa, niger, tuareg

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africa, niger, tuareg

Seeing the world through the lens of a camera provides both distance and intimacy. I have been interested in photography ever since my mother gave me my first SLR, a Topcon, four decades ago. I began writing poetry at about the same time. Both have made my life a richer experience.

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  • rodeorose
    rodeoroseabout 4 years ago

    Valarie- amazing story and important work you are doing! How tenuous life is- we tend to take so much for granted in more privileged countries. Brilliant shot. He had such a powerful presence that you captured beautifully.

  • Yes, he was a very quietly confident individual. Such a shame that life is put out so quickly, especially in some parts of the world where people hold on so tenuously. Thank you for your comment.

    – Valarie Napawanetz

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