Photojournalism - NOMINEE: Anna Zatonow
'El Mejor Regalo de Dios' ('God's Greatest Gift')
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This grant would help me complete the project I started in 2015 in Guatemala, focused on the lives of families affected by the extremely limited access to birth control services and information. The grant would allow me to travel back to Guatemala and finish shooting, as well as process, scan and edit the images to produce a book and submit the finalized project to calls for entries and exhibitions.
The project’s working title is ‘El Mejor Regalo de Dios’ (God's Greatest Gift).
While in many developed countries birth rates are falling and special incentive programs are implemented by the governments to encourage families to have more children, in Guatemala the population is growing uncontrollably while poverty, hunger, health care and education remain huge problems.
Guatemalan families, particularly those from rural and indigenous communities, face disproportionate barriers that prevent them from taking control of their reproductive health and escaping poverty. Corruption, turbulent political situation, limited access to education and health services, machismo and barriers dictated by religion lead to women having 8, 10 or more children and facing major health risks. This puts many families in precarious financial conditions, with more than 50% of children under 5 being malnourished. Childhood too often means looking after younger siblings or working, leading to dropping out of school with little chance to learn about sexual health and avoid teenage pregnancy. In fact, Guatemala is the only country in Latin America and the Caribbean where teenage pregnancy continues to be on the rise.
Children are nevertheless loved and cherished in Guatemala, and called ‘el mejor regalo de Dios’ (‘God’s greatest gift’).
This project is focused on exposing the consequences of the abovementioned barriers that the families in Guatemala face lacking access to tools to effectively control their fertility, in their fight for a better future.
My main interest as a photographer are people. I am drawn to portraiture and photojournalism as a means to learn stories of people's lives and to share those stories.
I completed a BA in Photography in Edinburgh, Scotland. My final project focused on the identities of youth in the modern day Europe was awarded the 1st prize by the ‘Jóvenes en el Espejo’ Photography Competition at the World Youth Conference organised by UNESCO and the Mexican Youth Institute in 2010. My further work includes a variety of documentary projects focused on issues like the changing life in the Polish countryside, the lives of Poles in the UK (awarded by the Krakow Photography Festival ‘Photomonth’ in 2011) and, most recently, lives of rural and indigenous families in Guatemala devoid of access to family planning services and information.
I have recently become a mother (my daughter is 7 months old) and my aim is to continue pursuing the career as a photographer and producing photographic work alongside dedicating myself to motherhood.