Heidi Harf

In October of 2015, I was asked by Casa Colombia, a local foundation that helps provide medical care to people most in need, to spend a week with the team documenting their visit and work. The foundation asked me to follow some of the children during their surgeries, and document their progress. These images would be used for their fundraising.

This is how I met Julia and Ebony.

I won’t lie, I felt some shock when I first saw her. She had palms for a hand, but no fingers. She barefoot, and I saw that she had about 10 toes on each foot, and those numerous toes were turned inward about 90 degrees making it almost impossible to stand.

This was Ebony. She was born with bilateral polydactyly of the feet (extra toes on both feet), sindactyly of the hands (fused fingers), scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine) and a dislocated hip. In spite of what you might think, Ebony was not at all shy. She was singing, and making everyone in the corridor smile. Everyone stared at her, but it was because she demanded their attention with her vibrant personality. I fell in love with her, everyone did.

After working on the project for 3.5 years now, I have realized it has nothing do to about Ebony's handicaps, even though that’s how it began. This story has everything to do about a loving and strong relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter. I want both Julia and Ebony to have a recollection of their relationship.

This project is an opportunity for me to share my love of photography, my joy for life, and a way to communicate the selflessness and love of the individuals from the Casa Colombia and the US doctors who come here to treat people like Ebony. While these images are moving to many and have been well-received, this story belongs to Ebony and Julia, and they are my most important critics.

commissioned by Fundacion Casa Colombia