Children learn to use photography to capture their reality and express their views
The project is part of the social art initiative “The House is Small but the Welcome is Big,” which is led by the US-based organisation Venice Arts. It focuses on the intersection between public health and poverty in African communities as seen through the eyes of children and women. The first part of the project took place in 2006 with mothers and moms-to-be, living with HIV/AIDS in Cape Town, South Africa.
The second part of the project is held in Mozambique this month with the support of the African Millennium Foundation, the Mozambican NGO Reencontro and UNICEF, in collaboration with the Mozambican Association of Photographers.
A group of 15 children orphaned by AIDS who are now raising their young siblings are taking part in the workshop. They are joined by six teen activists who already use 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.
Nilza Laice, 17 years, is an actor in a theatre group called Theatre of the Oppressed. She uses theatre to raise awareness about sexual and reproductive health.
“I wanted to participate in this workshop because some of the activities I have been involved in called my attention to the need for using photography as a tool to raise awareness,” she explained.
“As a following to this project I would like to gather old photos of people living with HIV/AIDS – showing their debilitated health conditions before they start taking antiretroviral. Then I would combine the old photos with photos I’ll take showing them in better health conditions as a result of antiretroviral treatment. I believe it would be a very good way to stimulate people to adhere to treatment," added Nilza.
During the first week, the participants will learn the basics of photo documentation, including camera use and composition with the support of professionals.
During the second week, they will document their lives and the social work they have been doing as activists to reach other children, adolescents and youth.
Digitally processed images will be given to the participants on a regular basis and made available to the general public through the web site www.thehouseissmall.org as well as through exhibitions in Mozambique and the US.
The project coincides with the 18th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is celebrated this year. The project offers an opportunity to promote the rights of children to give their opinions on issues that affect them. It also highlights the social work carried out by young people in Mozambique.