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OneMinutesJr workshop on HIV/AIDS in Ukraine - Day 4

© UNICEF / Chris Schuepp / 2010
Sasha (right) and his little family. The father is HIV-positive, mother and child are negative.

Day 4 of the OneMinutesJr workshop in Ukraine and it is relatively calm in and around the workshop venue. It is extremely hot today and for some of the children who still filmed or edited yesterday in the evening, the night was short.

The only native Russian speaker among the trainers, Gor from Armenia, is busy doing the voice-overs with the participants. Only a few of the films will have acting and dialogue while most are more documentary with a text that needs to be written, taped and then added during the editing process.

In the afternoon, I accompany Igor (15) to the northern suburbs of Kyiv where his godfather lives. Sasha is HIV-positive and has known his status for eight years now. He is married and has a 3-year-old son, but he is the only one in the family who is HIV-positive.

© UNICEF / Chris Schuepp / 2010
Looking at the family photo album. The decision to have a child was a tough one for the parents.

Sasha speaks openly about it and tells us how difficult it was for him at the beginning. "I thought I could only marry a woman who is also HIV-positive. I didn't think I could deal with the responsibility and possibly the guilt of infecting somebody else. However, I simply didn't know enough about HIV and AIDS back then. The more I read and learned, the more I understood that you don't need to wake up with a monster hanging over your shoulder every morning. Yes, there are certain problem and certain restrictions, but you can still live a happy life."

We film Sasha and his wife and their little son, but Sasha does not want to have their faces shown in the film. "My colleagues at home know about it and our friends, do, too. But around here people don't know it. I am not concerned about myself, I can handle it. But I don't want people to start rumors about my son. The stigmatization is the worst thing. Even though he is not HIV-positive, he is the son of an HIV-positive father and many people, especially the older generation, isn't able to keep that apart. It will take a while before we can completely open about it. And it will take a lot of advocacy to get there. International organizations and governments should spend even more time, money and effort on preparing young people for adolescence and to make sure they know what HIV is, how you prevent it and how you approach it once it appears in your life."

Back at the workshop, the thoughts are still with Sasha and his family and while we load the footage on the laptops, we see the images again, listen to the interview again and begin to understand what it means to be in Sasha's position.

Kyiv, Ukraine - June 10, 2010 - Chris Schuepp





Daily Diary from the OneMinutesJr workshop in Kyiv, Ukraine in June 2010


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