This is a story about a small boy named Lennard…
I met Lennard first time in 2012 when I had just arrived to The Netherlands. We visited our friends and I brought my camera to make some pictures of their kids; 2 years old Lennard and his small newborn sister Judith.
After picturing this family I realised that I experience a very strong connection with people when I capture them. Although I was still struggling to learn the Dutch language, photography became a way to talk and express myself. Through their eyes, I could see what is going on inside people and I could barely stop myself from taking my camera, anytime we would go out. So I started picturing everything I could: weddings, babies, families, etc. People appreciated my work so much, that I made a decision to change my hobby into a serious profession.
After working as a full time photographer for 2 years, I met Lennard once again, now 4 years old. However this time our meeting was different… This summer Lennard was diagnosed with an aggressive form of child-cancer: Neuroblastoma. Lennard was no longer the careless little boy that I met 2 years before.
Although Lennard grew up to be a very tall boy and he looks much older than most kids of his age, he was still very shy and hiding behind his innocent smile. My eyes have seen a boy without hair and with a tube into his nose but my heart was feeling that he is a playful, charming and very friendly little gentleman, who wanted to play, laugh and live his child life.
His parents shared with me Lennard’s experiences and what they are going through now. What was absolutely amazing for me is that they could describe in details every single moment of his life, from the moment they knew about cancer till now. They showed me his memory neckless, made of funny colourful balls or plasticine toys, that means every step of the treatments. Or lovely lion toy, that has been given to Lennard as a symbol of his internal power, and literally looks like him.
His mother said, that there were a lot of heavy days and a lot of difficult moment to all of them, but what was really important is having these few happy days together. So I was feeling my role and mission as a photographer for this family. Not to capture a child with heavy illness, but to witness one of really happy days of their life, that will support, motivate and inspire more all members of this family. So after many years Lennard will see how was important than to stay together, to support and to believe in each other no matter what.
At this moment Lennard is going through treatments in the Netherlands and if all goes well, he and his family will go to America for a post treatment. This immunotherapy will take 6 months and to finance his stay in Philadelphia a special foundation is raising money. Please check the website http://www.lennard4life.nl to learn more about Lennard, his illness and how you can help his family by donating for their stay in the US.
Facebook page: Lennard4life
Together we can help Lennard to be healthy and happy with his family, please help!