Paolo Patruno

Birth is a Dream (Photos)
Location: Bologna
Nationality: Italian
Biography: I am a freelance documentary photographer and filmmaker. I traveled throughout Africa over the past ten years, documenting global topics, including health care, education, human rights, gender issues, sustainable development. Since 2011 I’m... read on
Public Story
Birth is a Dream (Photos)
Credits: paolo patruno
Updated: 12/10/12

Birth is a dream – Maternity in Africa 

Every year in Africa, more than 200.000 mothers die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth; and for every woman who dies, many others suffer injury, infection or disability.
Every year 1,5 million African children are left without a mother.
A mother's death is a human tragedy, affecting families and communities. Her death endangers the lives of a surviving newborn and any other young children; a mother's death makes it harder for the family to obtain life's necessities and escape the crush of poverty.
A great many of these deaths are preventable, when women have access to quality prevention, diagnostic, and treatment services; most maternal death and morbidity can be prevented when pregnancy and childbirth are attended by skilled health professionals (nurses, midwives or doctors). 

In Sub-Saharan Africa adequate health services are often unavailable or inaccessible, leading many women to give birth in facilities without adequate equipment and services, as well as at home without skilled providers.
In particular, women in poor and remote communities, far from the nearest health services are most at risk. And young women and girls are in the most danger: in many communities girls still marry when very young and contraceptive advice, family planning is poor or non-existent.

 My project
"Birth is a dream" I named my photography project about maternity in Sub-Saharan Africa.
What is mothers dream? How realistic is it for them the dream of giving a safe birth ? Why safe motherhood is still a dream for the African mothers ?

My project about maternity in Africa, comes after almost 10 years travelling in this continent. I’ve realized in fact how much is fundamental and important woman role in the African society, community and family. In 2011, moreover, during my stay in Malawi I become friend of an English midwife who now lives and works in the country and she introduced and explained me deeply on all the aspects and issues related to maternity in Africa.
I have been capturing the lives of women and mothers in Malawi, where in the local language the words for pregnancy - “pakati” and “matenda”- translate into “between life and death” and “sick”, respectively.
I had the opportunity to visit public and private hospitals, health centers in rural areas, looking at the facilities conditions, at the nurses and midwives daily job to save mothers and child lives.
I attended trainings for nurses and midwives, community awareness campaigns on safe motherhood matter.
I visited women living in rural villages.
All these experiences raised me awareness on how much complex is pregnancy and childbirth topic.
So in 2011 I decided to start my personal project, to document and raise awareness about that.
To save a mother life, is much more than save just an individual life: from a mother, a woman, depends also the life of her children, of all the family.

With my project I wish to document all the aspect related to maternity: health facilities conditions, health workers (nurses, midwives or doctors) job, tradition of giving birth at home, daylife of pregnant women and mothers.
I believe maternal mortality is probably the main issue in the African society, and because very few Aid organizations support and have projects related to safe motherhood, and also most of the media don’t talk about this topic as well, I think it’s my duty to use my camera to document and raise awareness about that, to let people know what they still ignore is happening.


By Paolo Patruno —

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