Children show the impact of AIDS on their lives through photography
Maputo, July 2008 – Twenty one children aged between 11 and 17 years took to the streets of Maputo with cameras in hands last year to document their lives and their communities. Over the course of two weeks, they opened the doors of their homes and learned how to tell their stories through photography with a team of professional photographers.
The exhibition “The House is Small but the Welcome is Big”, which opened this week in Maputo, puts their photos on display, as part of a social art initiative organized by the US organisation Venice Arts, UNICEF and other partners, to explore the impact of AIDS on communities as experienced through the eyes of children.
The project brought together 15 orphaned children who are raising their young siblings and six teen activists who are using different ways to address social and public health issues in their communities – as radio and TV producers, as actors in community theatre groups or as peer counsellors in youth-friendly health centres.
The exhibition marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which represents the universal recognition that basic rights and fundamental freedoms are inherent to all human beings, inalienable and equally applicable to everyone.
But it also highlights the fact that children have a human rights declaration of their own. In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special convention just for them because they often need special care and protection that adults do not. Children's rights were then set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which builds on the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Convention spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere have – the right to survival, to develop to the fullest, to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.
The CRC was ratified by Mozambique in 1994. Since then, significant steps forward have been taken to improve the legal framework for the protection of the rights of the child in the country.
One recent achievement in this regard is the approval of the Children’s Act in 2008, which reflects a renewed commitment for the realisation of the rights of children in Mozambique by looking at the rights of children in a holistic manner – in their family environment, at school or anywhere else – in accordance with the principles established in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
UNICEF believes that the new legislation will considerably strengthen the legal and protective environment for children, including victims of trafficking and abuse, and will serve as a basis to guide the actions of the government, its partners and other organizations that are working for the protection of the rights of the child.
The photographs on exhibit are proof that children have ideas, experience and insights that can enrich adult understanding and make a positive contribution to society.
This exhibition is a joint initiative organised by the US organisation Venice Arts, the Mozambican organisation Reencontro, UNICEF, the African Millennium Foundation, and the Mozambican Association of Photography to create opportunities for children to express themselves on issues that affect them.
See some of the photos displayed at the exhibition
[View photo essay]