Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Photo voices

On World AIDS Day today, I’m posting the images and words of a few people who speak for themselves.

The photos below are from the exhibit Photo-Voice: HIV and AIDS Education for Young People in Africa, presented by UNESCO and the Virginio Bruni Tedeschi Foundation. The photos in Photo-Voice were taken by young people, parents and teachers from Angola, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.

The photographers focused on two themes: students and teachers affected by HIV and AIDS, and young people, sexuality and HIV.

Here are a few of the photos, along with captions written by the photographer who took each picture. (Photos are courtesy of UNESCO.)

© UNESCO/SWANNEPHA, Welile, female student, Swaziland - This is my teacher, she is also HIV positive, like me. She made my life easier by disclosing her status to us in class. She has restored my self esteem. I just love her. She is my pillar.
© UNESCO/SWANNEPHA, Kehtsiwe, 14 years old, female student, Swaziland - I am living with HIV and have been on antiretroviral treatment since 2002. I got sick early in my childhood. At school I faced challenges of being stigmatised and discriminated against by my teacher. She told other children not to play with me and also told me in the face that she was ‘tired of teaching a sick child’. I confronted her and told her that I could not change the situation. She then accepted my situation and wrote a note to apologise to my mother. I pray that other children never get to experience such injustice. I aspire to be surgeon; I already perform operations on frogs.

© UNESCO/RNP+ Angola, Cristovao, 14 years old, male student, Angola - My parents and two of my brothers are HIV positive. Very soon, as a result of their condition, our income started to decrease and I went to study at community school. HIV and AIDS is taught and openly discussed in schools managed by NGOs which have specific activities, but now that I am in public school I don’t hear about HIV and AIDS anymore, with the exception of the biology teacher... It would be good for schools (from primary schools to universities) to speak not only about HIV and AIDS but also about other sexually transmitted diseases. I would like to join a group of activists in my school in to fight HIV.

© UNESCO/LENEPWHA, Peete, 23 years old, male student, Lesotho - Sometimes when I think back on my life for the past ten years, I realise that I did not have enough knowledge on the pandemic to take care of myself. My young friends remind me that life should be enjoyed, and yet I worry that unless they are protected from contracting HIV they will soon have the virus like me and may not enjoy life as they do now. They deserve to be happy and live life with no worries. I believe that they should be adequately prepared now at a very early age so that they will grow into young adults competent enough to take care of themselves and protect others from HIV.

Photo-Voice is part of a UNESCO project funded by the Virginio Bruni Tedeschi Foundation (created by Marisa Bruni Tedeschi in memory of her son Virginio – Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s brother – who passed away of AIDS-related complications in 2006). Photo-Voice organisers say the exhibit uses the power of images to enable participants to "to bear witness" and to raise awareness.

These photos are by African photographers -- but AIDS is a global issue. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 22 million of the 33 million people living with HIV, but HIV incidence has fallen over 25 percent in 22 Sub-Saharan African countries since 2001, while it's increasing in other parts of the world (such as Eastern Europe and Central Asia). In North America and Western Europe, an estimated 100,000 people were newly infected in 2009 compared to 97,000 in 2001. We're in this together.

HIV and AIDS is a human rights issue, and dealing with it is a joint responsibility. It doesn't call for pity; it calls for empathy, solidarity and action.

No comments:

Post a Comment