Photographers' Blog

Sheltering mental patients


At an Indonesian center for mental patients run by the Galuh Foundation, I found Totok.  A patient who had just taken his morning shower and shaved. Totok used to be a thug in a market, and was feared for his habit of beating up vendors. One day, the vendors’ anger peaked and they beat Totok  up, leaving him with physical injuries and mental damage.

I read about the foundation in a local newspaper, in an article about a wedding between a  female patient and an employee of the foundation. The foundation was set up in 1982 by Gendu Mulatif in Bekasi, on the outskirts of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. Mulatif used his money to build a compound to take care of homeless patients who had been taken in from the streets. Once admitted, he treated them with medicinal herbals and changed their diet to vegetarian.


Head nurse Suharyono (L) and Suharyoso (R) bring in a man suffering from mental illness (C) shortly after finding him at a street in East Bekasi, outskirt of Jakarta November 5, 2009.  REUTERS/Beawiharta


The conditions at the foundation are a far cry from the centers funded by the government. Only a few walls separate the modest building, which houses a kitchen, a laundry room, the officers and the patients.

Today, some of the patients are shaved and bathed, including Totok, who is still not used to taking baths, despite his three-year treatment at the foundation. With an offer of a puff of a cigarette, Totok voluntarily agrees to be bathed by the nurses, and by bathe, I mean sprayed with a hose. Some other patients who still suffer serious mental disorder must have their legs restrained with chains to prevent them from hurting other patients.

Editor’s choice – November 11

A young Buddhist monk holds a pair of sunglasses during a teaching session by spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in Tawang, in the northeastern Indian state of Arunchal Pradesh November 10, 2009. The Dalai Lama arrived by helicopter in this remote Buddhist enclave nestled in the icy folds of the eastern Himalayas on Sunday. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Remains of a swimming pool are seen where a hotel stood before Hurricane Katrina struck at the Gulf Coast in Gulfport, Mississippi November 9, 2009. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The coffins of six British soldiers killed in Afghanistan are driven though the streets of Wootton Bassett in southwest England November 10, 2009. Six British servicemen were flown home on Tuesday — five of whom were shot by a rogue Afghan policeman. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Editor’s choice – October 29

James Bowers, dressed as Uncle Sam, asks people if they can “spare a trillion”, as they walk past him outside the front of Federal Hall, near the New York Stock Exchange, October 28, 2009. REUTERS/Chip East

Fire fighters extinguish fire while people survey at the site of bomb explosion, in Peshawar located in Pakistan’s restive North West Frontier Province, October 28, 2009. REUTERS/K.Parvez

A migrant worker looks on from behind a glass door as she waits for her documents to be processed after arriving from Malaysia, at a special terminal for migrant workers in the Soekarno-Hatta airport in Jakarta, October 28, 2009. REUTERS/Beawiharta

Click here for the full Editor’s choice slideshow and click here for further showcases of Reuters photography.

A royal cremation

Photographer Beawiharta gives us an intimate look at a cremation ceremony for three members of the royal family of Ubud, on Indonesia’s island of Bali.

Up to their necks

For most press photographers standing in the rain is an occupational hazard; even so the equipment we use does not operate well when wet. Imagine then the challenges faced by news photographers when torrential rain floods a nations capital city, leaving more than 340,000 people displaced and knocking out transport and communications. Slide

After 24 hours of continual downpour, Reuters Jakarta photographer Beawiharta was shooting pictures of happy children playing in flooded paddy fields. Two days later with the water still rising Chief Photographer Indonesia Enny Nuraheni was literally up to her neck in it, photographing the evacuation of beleaguered residents from lower lying areas of the city. Enny 1

I was paddling through flood water on a borrowed air mattress which residents usually use to sleep on. Getting access to the areas of deeper water using my temporary raft I was able to shoot the pictures of rescuers putting the boy in a plastic container as they fled, neck deep in flooded streets. We had to continually take care and rely on local knowledge as we couldnt determine what was a flooded river and what was a tunnel which could sweep us under the flood waters.

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