Each week early on a Friday morning alot of people wake up to an email from us linking them to the weekly blog. Some weeks the blogs are pre-planned days or even weeks ahead, some are written under the pump on Thursday to be ready for early Friday morning and occasionally they are not planned like this one. This weeks blog was to be about the wonderful celebrations of this week however that changed this morning when having my morning coffee and reading both the paper and facebook on my Ipad. Firstly before I get into it fully let me send out my thoughts and prayers to those above us in Queensland who are facing a category 5 cyclone any minute. I pray that you all stay safe and well.
Last year through a couple of close photography friends I was introduced to a wonderful couple, Matt and Katie Ebenezer, 2 photographers who also run workshops to teach as well as photography adventures as well as helping those greatly in need, let me be clear I have actually never met them in person, however through my friends and the wonderful world of facebook I have followed them and heard about the adventures they had in Cambodia November 2013. The following year, something unthinkable and terrible happened in their life (the following story I share from Matt’s facebook post this morning, these are not my words but his)
This is simply the most personal – and hardest – post I’ve ever had to make. Katie and I are in real trouble and we need help. Our friend Jamie has started a fundraiser because, in short, we’re broke due to the freak accident in which Katie was a pedestrian crushed between two cars. She sustained severe nerve damage and has been in chronic pain every day, unable to shoot or work since the accident (14 months ago).
I’m not used to needing help, let alone asking for it. For those who know me, I’m the go-to guy who helps others, especially photographers, with their business and life. My Dad is a pastor, my Mum is a teacher. They were missionaries before I was born. We don’t put our hands up lightly, if ever, to ask for help.
I have to remind myself that to raise your hand isn’t a sign of weakness. It actually takes strength and effort. In many ways I’m not asking for myself. I’m asking for Katie. If there was ever a person who didn’t deserve something like this, it was her. The daily physical pain she’s in is constant. The emotional anguish of seeing everything she’s worked towards her entire career just fall apart. To not be able to even take photos anymore. Such a stark contrast from what her normal life was- traveling to Nepal to document sex-trafficking, photographing weddings, to running our work-shops … to now only being able to do the washing or some light cleaning around the house which leaves her exhausted and in even more pain.
And, to then watch her husband and her rock completely unravel. And being so helpless in the face of it all. In October/November last year the strain of the situation led to me having a complete breakdown and being admitted to a mental health facility for severe depression. For nearly 5 days I refused food and slept around the clock in an effort to make it all go away … that’s when I was admitted.
I spent a month and a half in that hospital as they slowly and gently drew me out of the darkest place I’ve ever been in my life. Then a month ago in January I had to be admitted for another few weeks. For everyone who knows me, they’d possibly think that I’m the last person this could happen to. But it has. And I’m not one bit ashamed of it anymore. Every time I talk about what’s happened to me it opens the door for someone else to say, “me too”.
Our world has completely crumbled physically, emotionally, mentally and financially. At the time of the accident we had a year’s worth of savings in the bank. And our business was making great money. Both have dried up. Our savings are gone. Katie and I are at about 5% of our usual capacity and as a result our productivity is close to zero. It could be years before Katie is even partly recovered, let alone back to 100%. We’re currently selling our car. Soon we’ll be selling most of our camera gear and computers. Next we’ll probably rent out our home, and then sell it if we have to 😦
I ask myself everyday, “What could I have done differently?” and I come up empty. It was a random act of the universe. An inattentive driver plus a few seconds in a parking lot has turned our lives completely upside down. So here I am. Humbled in every possible way. With my hand up. Thank you for listening, sharing our story and helping if you can.
The facebook post is already being shared widely within the photography community and wider between friends. You don’t have to met someone to be touched by their story, these people deserve our help – when times are this tough it can be the little things that help to get you through. I am today asking my network of subscribers, photographers and friends to please give, even if a little to help these 2 people get through these tough times. Please click on the link below to donate if you can.