10. This is Amelia. She has pica, and a lazy eye. The pica was of great concern to her family, her grandfather Don Juan, and grandmother Dona Daria. Her big brothers Eustacio and Jacinto loved her so much. She sweetly and quietly would hang onto moms apron as she milled the corn and made the days tortillas, her dad farmed the plot, her brothers shepherded the sheep over acres, and her 86 year old grandparents sat in the cold mountain sun.
For over two years, I lived across the dirt road from Amelia and her family, on the top of an 11,000 foot mountain plateau in a very remote range in northwest Guatemala. It was one of the most intact and supportive communities I have experience in, here in the States or elsewhere. But also where poverty and the adage “it takes a village to raise a child” live side by side in a gritty, beautiful harmony.
I consider this to be the first photo I ever took. Although I had learned to shoot years earlier, this is the first that was mine, uniquely in the world. When I opened that sacred packet of prints and developed film from the lab, my heart caught a little and I thought: Yup. That’s Amelia.
She must now be 20 years old.