Sunday, November 22, 2015

3 Survivors + HIV/AIDS, Near Kisumu, Kenya, 2006

One day the good people of MACODEF take me to a small house where about thirty women and a few men have gathered in anticipation of our visit. They come from different households and backgrounds but share one variable, living with HIV/AIDS.

While we usually arrive and set up the equipment shortly thereafter, this time we sit down and listen to the stories of each person, one at a time. Here are thirty or so adults, with their children around them, telling a complete stranger the story of how they contracted the virus, of how they remember their spouses as the sources of this transmission and of how their children live with the thought of losing their remaining parent.

Some of the stories are translated, some are left to be heard without translation.

There is a feeling of victory, of jubilation. These women see their tribulations as opportunities rather than obstacles. They have formed a group and through this unity have forged a way forward.

We step outside and make their portraits, first with their children and then on their own. My mind cannot imagine the tribulations each has endured, for their lives without such an unimaginable hardship is beyond my ability to comprehend.

The nearest hospital is beyond their reach and the medicine needed is as distant. Yet they find the strength to take care of themselves and their families, to gather in this group and share their stories in public… in an environment less than friendly for such stories.

Note: These images were made with a Nikon F100/105 mm lens combination.

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