Through Positive Eyes – Durban 3

Thulile

Through Positive Eyes,Durban,HIV

(See here for the background to this project)

Thulile, Simiso and Jennifer are currently presenting their 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 and Carol Brown to enable the participants to tell their stories and interact with projections of their work.

Here is an extract from Thulile’s story:

‘I have been living with HIV for 25 years, I was born with it.

As a kid they told me I would not live past 7. When I lived past 7 years old they told me I wouldn’t live past 10….

When my neighbors found out, they stigmatized me.
I discovered I could do things to help myself. I am strong. I am beautiful. I am a positive woman. I won’t let anyone discriminate me. I have survived.

When I don’t feel well I talk to my virus. I say ‘don’t misbehave! If I get sick you won’t have anyplace to live.’ I must love myself and be positive to myself. I am a hero. We are all human, we all need love. We are strong. We are beautiful. We are positive.

Continue reading “Through Positive Eyes – Durban 3”

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.

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.

 

Caesarian

Seven people go into a room and eight people come out.

Anaesthetists don’t just work with unconscious patients. This expectant mother is being guided through a magic trick. Sitting beside her, the anaesthetist asks questions, tells her what is happening, and what she can expect to feel and hear. His team help bridge the gap between her emotions, and what is happening to her numbed body.

 

Anaesthetists

Consciousness is a tricky subject, debated by philosophers and scientists for hundreds of years. But anaesthetists turn it on and off and otherwise manipulate it every day. Photographing people losing consciousness is an odd thing. Like a benign and reversible death. One moment they’re there talking as I snap away and the next minute they’re absent, yet still the centre of attention. They are there and not there.
My commission for the Royal College of Anaesthetists took me to hospitals around the country to photograph all aspects of anaesthesia.
I’ll cover other aspects of this extraordinary profession in future posts.

 
 

Through Positive Eyes Haiti

Last December I returned from helping to run the Haiti chapter of this international arts and advocacy project, in which HIV+ve participants photograph their lives. I teach photography and co-edit the work with the participants, alongside Gideon Mendel. This is the eighth city the project has worked in to challenge the stigma of HIV.

Here’s a preview of some of the work which will be appearing on the project website: http://throughpositiveeyes.org/

Continue reading “Through Positive Eyes Haiti”

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”

Donkey Cam

Donkeys have a blind spot immediately in front of them, but can see right round to their hind legs – though not behind their head.

Simply mounting a wide angle camera on a donkey’s head won’t tell us how a donkey really ‘sees’ the world. But it can tell us something about its working life. Its movements, its height, the rhythm of its work, how it directs its attention and perhaps how it relates to people and other donkeys.

This donkey shot 2,700 photographs over a 45 minute period as it went about its repetitive work at a brick kiln in Gujarat, India. This selection of its work will tell you as much about what I think makes an interesting photograph as it does about donkey consciousness. But that would apply if I had shot them myself.

 

With thanks to the donkey with the camera

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 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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