Monday, May 23rd, 2016
The Story Behind the Photo PDF Print E-mail
Chernobyl Hope - People Magazine - April 24, 2006 As seen in...

  Issue: April 24, 2006
  Pages 104 - 110

If you could see the other half of the image that the camera did not capture, only then could you know that Nastya (the little girl I’m comforting) is having bedsore dressings changed. When I first approached her – just a couple of minutes before this photo was taken, Nastya was clearly distressed from the pain and discomfort of having bedsore dressings peeled off and replaced. A fellow volunteer, nurse Marie Cox from Ireland, was performing the dressing change. Marie works so well – so careful, so delicate and swift in her approach. Sadly, the process is just so painful and distressing, no matter how careful one is, there will be pain and discomfort for a child in Nastya’s condition. 

Nastya’s face was expressing anguish, eyes averting and head turned completely to one side – as if she was trying to bury her face into the pillow. I talked to Nastya first “Hello sweetie – brave girl you are, so brave. You’re doing such a good job. We’re a good way done now, and I’ll stay with you through the whole thing.”

I placed my hand on her chest and over her head, holding her, looking at her, talking to her. Within seconds, her body, face, gesture and breath began to relax. Her head turned towards me (that’s the image in the photo) and we shared a long gaze into one another’s face. Her face relaxed, and her breath rate slowed down.  
Marie looked over to Nastya and noted that she looked a lot better than when she first started the dressing change. Dietlind Lerner, the journalist from People Magazine, came over and asked Marie “So is what Suzanne is doing helping her?” Marie answered, “Oh yes, definitely – look at her. She’s more comfortable. Suzanne is helping her get through this.”   

What feeds my passion about this work is that it requires no technology, to tools, nothing to plug in, no buttons, dials, clips, straps, snaps or switches. It’s about presence, contact and intent. It’s not about curing the person; it’s about caring for the person. Without compassionate care, recovery is a more of a challenge than it needs to be. This work offers the child the incentive to thrive – because, indeed, somebody cares. We all need purpose in life – and for children like this, survival is distinctly dependent on the fact that there is someone who cares that they are alive, and that care is seen, felt and heard through the caregiver’s action and physical and emotional presence. She matters to me. That is something for Nastya to live for.

If we knew we didn’t matter to anyone – really, what would be the point? Everyone needs to know that someone cares and is happy they are alive.

Thank you, to Dietlind Lerner for delivering our story – and to Antonin Kratochvil for capturing a photo that represents what I love.


Next >


Lost Password?
No account yet? Register
© 2016 Compassionate Child - Suzanne P. Reese