Through Positive Eyes Durban 4

Yvonne

Yvonne’s family live without piped water or sanitation but they own three Smartphones, one tablet, a laptop and a TV. Far from being luxuries these devices are likely to be their way out of poverty. Her two oldest daughters are very clever and technologically able.

Yvonne works at the Gugu Dlemini AIDS Foundation. She says:

It took me a long time to come out of that shell that made me less confident, but eventually I thought to myself that it was something I had to do. In my community many people suffer from these situations. It’s also because we are less educated, so we see no reason, or feel ashamed to speak about these kinds of things. We still live in a community that is dominated by men, making women feel less adequate.

 

As a woman this also affects me. I am also HIV positive, and I am deaf too. This has brought a lot of misunderstandings and difficulties for myself and other people. People find it hard to communicate with me. Some people think that there is something wrong with me. I misinterpret what they are saying. This causes me to distance myself from people. It has also caused problems with my relationships with men in my life as they take advantage of me.

Continue reading “Through Positive Eyes Durban 4”

Through Positive Eyes – Durban 2

Elizabeth

Through Positive Eyes_Durban_Elizabeth

(See previous post for the background to this project)

Elizabeth is currently presenting her work at the Durban Art Gallery as part of the Through Positive Eyes show, coinciding with the International AIDS Conference. The show has been designed by Stan Pressner to enable the participants to tell their stories and interact with projections of their work.

Here is an extract from Elizabeth’s story:

‘Hello, I’m Elizabeth. I was diagnosed HIV+ in 2008.
At birth I was taken away from my mother, she was mentally unstable. I grew up in the Homes. I had fun growing up with my age group, with only one or two housemothers we had lots of freedom to interact and live.

As time went on I was put in a foster home. I was abused badly at this place. It was a difficult time for me, the hardest time in my life.   I felt like my childhood was taken away from me.

I spoke up and eventually was removed from this home.

In 2008 I found out I was HIV+. I actually had many friends around me who were positive. I asked them questions and I’ve learned to live with it.

I moved on. I continued to use alcohol and drugs. I had two children. The first I gave up for adoption. The second, I decided to keep. The day the doctor put her in my arms, I fell in love.

New Year’s day last year, I decided to change my way. I’d been going around and around in circles. I want to find myself.  I decided I wanted to pull myself together.

I’ve decided to come out about it all, especially living with HIV.   Now I want to encourage young girls to love themselves, to trust themselves, to speak up….’

Through Positive Eyes – Durban

Silungile-Through Positive Eyes-Durban-1301Photo by Silungile
I’m just back from working on the final chapter of this international arts and advocacy project, in which HIV+ve participants photograph their lives to combat stigma.

I teach photography, and co-edit the work with the participants, alongside Gideon Mendel and Prof. David Gere’s team from the Art and Global Health Centre at UCLA.

A major exhibition featuring work from all ten cities has just opened in Durban to coincide with the 21st International AIDS Conference, which begins on the 18th July. The HIV+ve photographers will work as guides and speakers at the show.

I’ll post work from the Durban group during the conference, starting with Silungile.

Silungile

Silungile is a sangoma or traditional healer as well as an educator, HIV activist and grandmother. Here are a selection of her photographs.

Displaces. A photo-project in the Calais ‘Jungle’.

Calais 'Jungle' photographed by 18 year old refugee Esyas ( name changed).This mysterious photograph of the Calais ‘Jungle’ is the work of 18 year-old Esyas (his name has been changed), an artist from Eritrea. He is taking part in the Displaces photo project set up by Prof. Corinne Squire.

I’ve been working alongside Gideon Mendel, teaching photography and editing the results of a two day workshop. We’ve left cameras with refugees to document their lives in the camp. I’ll post more images as the project progresses.

Esyas’ photograph conveys the atmosphere of this place which is not a place. A landfill site full of people, now partially bulldozed back into the ground. There is a stark simplicity to the landscape which makes it feel like an allegory: the camp, the fence, the road, the police, and the bulldozers. Yet everywhere there is a flickering of different lives and cultures: the scraps of possessions burnt or ploughed into the earth, the Eritrean church, the mosque, the library, the cafes and the figures playing football or just staring at the horizon.

Work, Climate and Donkeys

For donkeys as well as people, the brick kilns in India are dangerous and unhealthy places to work – but unemployment is worse.

The RAJ brick kiln in Rajakhera near Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India.

At the RAJ kiln near Agra, accommodation for donkeys and their owners lies empty. Unseasonal rains have waterlogged the brick kilns and there’s no work for them here.

Back in the home village of Madhupur, 16-year old Archang wakes early to begin looking after the unemployed men of her family.

The family have to feed themselves and their donkeys, whether or not they’re earning.

Families who also own a cart can occasionally earn some money hauling a load.

But most of the men and their animals will be out of work until the kilns dry out again.

Climate change makes life more precarious.

Home Lives of the Donkey People

Donkey owners – problem or solution?

Indian brick kiln donkeys

Itinerant donkey owners working in Gujarat’s brick kilns spend 24 hours a day with their donkeys. They live, work, play and abide together. The donkeys’ welfare is entirely in the people’s hands. So who are they, and how do they live alongside their animals? I hope these photographs from MA Ambapur kiln near Ahmedabad will help show how these two societies live together.

 

Grazing

In the UK the word ‘grazing’ brings to mind lush green fields. In Madhupur village near Agra we followed donkey owner Daudayal as he took his family’s donkeys to the only grazing available to them.

Donkeys graze on plastic and excrement
 

The land doubles as a latrine for the entire village, which lacks basic sanitation.

Continue reading “Grazing”

Smartphones

Itinerant brick kiln workers use WhatsApp to stay in touch.

Donkey owner-drivers working in the brick kilns of Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh are paid every Friday, but receive a lump sum payment at the end of the brick-making season. This allows them to buy Indian-made smartphones costing about 5,000 Rupees each.

Most donkey owners are itinerant and may be away from their home villages for many months at a time. The phones allow them to stay in touch, both with family members, and friends working in other kilns. They’re also a status symbol for the young. Using WhatsApp is cheap and may be a spur to literacy for a largely unschooled workforce.

 

Madhupur Village near Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Virat (13) who likes to be known as ‘Brad’ with his smartphone. He good-naturedly photographs every move the UK photographer makes.

 

Continue reading “Smartphones”

Animal traction

In the UK animal traction and haulage are things of the past – relegated to the heritage industry. In India draft animals play a key role in the modern economy. Aside from their use in agriculture, donkeys and mules are essential to the construction industry. The livelihoods of many thousands of marginalised families are reliant on the welfare and efficient functioning of their teams of donkeys and mules. These photo stories take a look at this industry.

 

Brick Story


India is experiencing a building boom to cope with its rapid urbanisation. Thousands of concrete-frame high rise blocks, with brick infill, can be seen rising up around Delhi and Mumbai. Almost every one of the millions of bricks involved has been transported by donkey or mule at the brick kilns where they are made. So how does it work?

Continue reading “Brick Story”

Bedrooms

Khesikala village 1 km from Faridabad KSN brick kiln near Delhi, India. 
Brick kiln carter Rohtas (24) with his two year old stallion horse at his stable in the village. It is unusual to see horses working in brick kilns.
 © Crispin Hughes

 

This is a male horse with his owner Rohtas. They work in a brick kiln. They both live in a house with plastered and painted walls and electric light.

 

Khesikala village 1 km from Faridabad KSN brick kiln near Delhi, India. 
The mule owners who work at the kiln are settled here in the village. The mules enjoy good stables and food here.
Vedpal (30) with his 2 year old mule at his stable in the village.
Modern India is built on the backs of donkeys and mules. © Crispin Hughes

 

This is a mule with his owner Vedpas. They also work at the brick kiln. The mule also has a nice bedroom, though not quite as nice as the horse’s bedroom.

 

Madhupur Village near Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. Annar Devi and her family are cousins to Harish. They keep a buffalo and calf, a horse and goats in the stable and yard outside their house.

 

This is a buffalo with her owner Annar Devi. The buffalo has a bedroom, though its not painted, has no electric light and is open on one side. She has a sacking blanket to keep her warm.

 

Goat. Madhupur Village near Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India.

 

This is a goat, Somehow it seems to have got a plastered and painted bedroom.

 

Madhupur Village near Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. Harish (19) owns five donkeys and works at the VIP brick kiln about ten kilometres from Madhupur village.

 

These are donkeys with their owner Harish. They all work in a brick kiln with Harish. They sleep outside in the rain. Harish puts their pack saddles on in the evening to keep them warm, and to stop the crows from pecking at the saddle wounds on their backs.

 

Madhupur Village near Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. Harish (19) owns five donkeys and works at the VIP brick kiln about ten kilometres from Madhupur village.


Madhupur Village near Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Harish and his family.
Mahender, his father Daudayal, Luekush (12) and Harish in Mahender and Ruby’s beautiful bedroom.

 

This is the bedroom of Harish’s older brother Mahender – standing on the left. Mahender made a good marriage with a good dowry. The room is plastered and painted and has electricity.

 

Madhupur Village near Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Harish and his family.
Brothers Mahender, Harish and Luekush with their father Daudayal and mother Sakuntla and Mahender’s mule. Daudayal and his wife sleep here. Mahender has made a marriage with a good dowry and sleeps in a beautiful bedroom at the front of the house.

 

This is the bedroom at the back of the house where their parents (on the right) and Mahender’s mule sleep. It’s made of brick but it’s not plastered or painted and it doesn’t have electricity.

 

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With thanks to everyone at Khesikala and Madhupur, and to TDS India

Modern India is built on the backs of donkeys

Gurgaon, a city outside Delhi, India, is undergoing a boom in construction fuelled by the new Metro link and Delhi’s need for young professionals. Almost every brick in the country has been carried by donkeys during its manufacture. In Gurgaon they also work in lieu of cranes.

 

Modern India is built on the backs of donkeys. Guargaon, a city outside Delhi, India, is undergoing a boom in construction fuelled by the new Metro link and Delhi’s need for young professionals.

Continue reading “Modern India is built on the backs of donkeys”

Within and Without the State

South Sudan is the world’s youngest country, founded in 2011 in the wake of decades of war. I visited with Oxfam to photograph their programme ‘Within and Without the State’, that supports people in holding their rulers to account without confrontation.
NGOs use a lot of buzzwords to describe relationships between people and their governments. But how do you point a camera at buzzwords?

 

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Governance

  Continue reading “Within and Without the State”

A complicated story about donkeys and people

Many NGOs develop problematic ‘mission creep’ as they attempt to burrow down and address the causes – rather than just the symptoms – of the problems they were set up to tackle.

A case study from the work supported by the Donkey Sanctuary in Romania lays bare the dilemma; sticking to a clear mission can be equally troubling.

Donkey Sanctuary, Romania. Liviu lived in this hole in the ground

Liviu used to live under some planks in this hole in the ground in a village near Cernavoda, Romania. Continue reading “A complicated story about donkeys and people”

A simple story about donkeys and people

With thanks to Mwende, Beth, Lydia, Jadida & The Donkey Sanctuary

Aid policy and interventions can raise very complex issues but in drought ridden Mwingi in NE Kenya the role of donkeys is really very simple. Without donkeys, people and their livestock cannot survive.

Donkeys form the vital final link in the distribution of water, food, firewood, fertiliser, grain and market goods.

 

Mwende holding the skull of Mutawr

This is Mwende holding the skull of Mutawr one of the nine cattle and ten goats she lost in the drought of 2009.

 

_MG_7561This cow is Kanini, Mutawr’s sister.

 

_MG_7351Kanini is alive because this donkey has been bringing her water. Continue reading “A simple story about donkeys and people”

Donkeys in Ethiopia

‘A woman without a donkey – is a donkey’  Ethiopian saying

There are 6.2 million working donkeys in Ethiopia. When they are fit and healthy they carry water to villages and goods to market. In both rural and urban areas they form the backbone of the local transport and haulage system and provide an income for the poorest families. If they become sick or injured then the work of carrying water and heavy loads to market will usually fall to women. The welfare of donkeys can be a matter of life and death.

Soguba donkey clinic, Ethiopia

Donkeys and ‘resilience’

‘Resilience’ is the latest buzzword in social, environmental and international development circles. Donkeys are known for their physical resilience in the face of drought and abuse by humans but they can also help women’s resilience in poor communities.

Tumme Konton, her husband Sisay and their children live in a tiny settlement called Adankonsole, near the small market town of Soguba, not far from the Kenyan border in Ethiopia.

Although she has no running water, sanitation or electricity, she would not think of herself as poor – in fact she has some status in her community. She has a good stock of animals, including a donkey, which enables her to provide for her family. The Donkey Sanctuary are using this simple story to illustrate the importance of their work in Ethiopia to the lives of people as well as animals.

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Tumme and her family get up shortly before dawn, at about 5.30am, to milk their small herd of cattle and camels.

_MG_1140_MG_1130The family need water; next job is to fetch this with the help of the family’s donkey, Bukke.

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Back home, the water containers are taken off and milk containers loaded onto his back. Bukke must now carry the camel and cow’s milk to the trading point on the highway at Soguba, three kilometres away.
The family and their donkeys walk the three kilometres to Soguba. Bukke knows the way and doesn’t need to be led. He breaks into a trot for the last part of the journey.

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Once at Soguba, Tumme and the other local women producers decant their milk into yet other containers for a trader to transport them by bus. Each container has been permanently marked to show who has supplied the milk; a way of accounting, without demanding literacy.

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Each day the trader transports hundreds of litres of milk to Kenya on the roof of the bus. The following day he pays the women producers, returns their empty, marked containers and collects the next load of milk.

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_MG_1568Bukke’s working day is over. 
The family take him home and rest him.

Having a healthy donkey makes it possible for Tumme, and the other women, to make an income and take part directly in an international market for their produce.
Tumme jokes that Bukke’s importance in the family is somewhere between that of her husband and her children.

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