On the 10th of April, I walked into a hotel room to meet Maxine. It was before 7am in the morning. I hadn’t met her before.
A mutual friend got me thinking about a photo shoot with Maxine and sent me some photos of her. I looked at her in the photos then put them away, couldn’t look any longer.
Few days into it, looked again. Every time I went back to it, I saw a three month old baby, not Maxine of today. I couldn’t get the scene out of my head for days. It was so simple and straight forward how life could take a whole new angle in a split second. Maxine could have been just as healthy as you and me. Could have been a nurse or a gardener. She could’ve been in a loving relationship with a partner and children. She has five children and she loves them dearly. Shame on a part of our society, her children, at least some of them, arrived through sexual assaults. She did her best keeping herself as normal as possible to love them, but wasn’t very capable of providing them with anything more. She was bullied and her door was stoned. Her own parents were another disappointment. They sent her kids away with a disgrace. They didn’t want to have anything to do with them.

As kind a heart as I have, I don’t remember being so close to a badly disabled person, let along photographing them. Although I tried to prepare myself to make it look as normal as possible, when I saw Maxine sitting on that couch at a very early morning light, I freaked out and I felt sick in my stomach. I thought I was going to vomit from nausea. Luckily, our mutual friend Desire had a lot to talk about and managed to divert my attention and that gave me a little break to deal with my brain. I managed, I got over, I accepted her. I showed the delicate, loving touch I show, to anyone I photograph. I brushed her hair.I helped her dress up. I looked her in the eye and I was fully comfortable in her presence. In my head, quietly, I apologised to her on behalf of our humanity, for all the things she’s gone through. Things that could’ve easily been avoided or reduced.

Maxine was a three month old baby in a bassinet when the family’s Tasmanian home caught fire. Her parents weren’t home. Her sister, only few years older than her managed to escape with less damage than Maxine.

Our mutual friend Desire has been trying to raise some awareness to Maxine’s situation. She’s hoping to receive some donations so she could help Maxine, maybe to have some surgery or a better place to live. I’m watching Desire with an utmost admiration how much time and effort she’s putting in. She is hoping to help Maxine to have a better life from here on. She thinks Maxine has had more than her fair share of trauma and it’s time to feel loved and cared for.

That’s what I did. In my own way, I offered Maxine a little of my time. I made her feel good about herself. She smiled with me and enjoyed my attention.

I thank my friend Jo, for lending me her wedding dress. Maxine felt very special in it. I thank Flowers to Perfection for donating the beautiful little bouquet.
I appreciate and thank Desire for putting all that time and effort to improve another human being’s life. Giving brings a lot of joy.

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