Broken Wings

Bobby Neel Adams, Franco Dressed in Suit at Tica Railroad Station, Mozambique, 1994

“I was staying in Nhamatanda on the Biera Corridor in Mozambique. One day I had hitched a ride to Tica with some Italian doctors doing work in the bush. I took photographs until it was time to return to Nhamatanda. Just before leaving, I met Franco [land mine victim] and told him I would come back. Days later, I jumped on a freight train with my interpreter and found Franco was waiting at the station in his polyester suit. Either he was psychic or he’d been waiting for me for the last three days. We made photographs in the garden of the train station, one of the most manicured sites in the countryside.”

Bobby Neel Adams, Teng Dara with Racing Chair at Temple near Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 1995

“This Photograph was made at a temple above the Tonle Sap River outside Phnom Penh. Dara has lived on the streets in Phnom Penh as a beggar for years. He is married to a woman he met on the streets, and they have two sons. He became a soldier and claims to have stepped on a mine made in the United States (which is possible but unlikely) in 1990. After the accident, he was brought to Hospital #179 in Phnom Penh where he spent one year and seven months. He now works at Kien Khleang where he builds wheelchairs. Dara built the small racing chair in the photograph and used it to place first in the wheelchair race in the Disabled Olympics in 1995.”

Bobby Neel Adams, John on Railroad Tracks, Nhamatanda, Mozambique , 1994

“John was walking home from school when I asked to take his photograph. He was very shy and didn’t seem to understand what was happening. My friend asked him why he didn’t have a prosthesis, and he seemed confused. Later, he stopped by the house where I stayed to ask how he could get a leg. We suspected that his parents had kept him on crutches so that people would give him gifts. I never found out whether he received a prosthesis.”

Bobby Neel Adams, Feet Waiting for Legs, Kien Khleang Clinic, Cambodia, 1993

“I spent many days photographing at Kien Khleang, a prosthetics clinic across the Tonle Sap river from Phnom Penh. This clinic was set up by the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation to produce the Jaipur Limb. Dr. Jaipur, an Indian doctor, developed this limb which is made from materials available in the country in which it is produced. The theory is that the limb can therefore be repaired locally if it is broken. The core of each foot is carved from a block of wood, and a bolt is inserted. The block is then wrapped with rubber strips and heated in a metal mold to form a pliable foot, detailed with toenails. The leg section (not shown) is pounded out of aluminum sheets and fitted to the individual’s stumps.”

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