“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" Isaiah 6.8
Swaziland currently has the highest prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in the world. It is affecting every area of life.
I will be photographing the scenes on film to produce a digital book and a Fine Art book. The digital book will raise awareness and support-it is essentially a media packet for those who want to give or to travel abroad through the program.
The wonder of photography and film is that it can transcend the ordinary and offer each of us a glimpse into another's life. To see what they see, know what they may know.
I will be following local missionaries to document any progress and hardship. They have lived there for just under two years and have come to care for and about this community, which represents so many abroad. A lot of the work they do is either directly or indirectly related to the AIDS crisis in the country. One of the more direct projects they help with is the distribution of in-home care kits to help with the care of a person suffering from the end stages of terminal illness in the home. They work with the local churches to make these individual visits and present the gifts to the family.
The in home care kits include: Gloves, towels, bucket, soap, straws, vaseline, socks. vitamins, and a few other items to care for the sick. it is just another way to care for the community they know so well. It is a wonderful way to show God's love.
I have the equipment as a professional photographer. Your donation will provide lodging, airfare, food, medical costs, and transportation for the duration (ten days) of the trip. This will enable me to compose the book itself, upon my return.
I hope that this project encourages awareness, sparks prayer, and transforms hearts. Please know that every dollar counts!
Fast Facts about Sub-Sarahan African Peoples
- 2,845 people groups
- Around 835 million total population
- Live in around 65 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and around the world
- 22% Muslim, 35% Christian, 41% African Traditional Religion
- Generally value relationships more than any schedule, and friendly foreigners are typically welcomed warmly.
- A diversity of people including well educated business professionals, subsistence farmers, nomadic herders, fishermen and a large number of individuals who face challenges from civil unrest, disease and famine.
- A large number of Sub-Saharan Africans live in major urban centers around the globe but maintain strong ties with family and friends in their home countries
- The geographical region of Sub-Saharan Africa, where the majority of people still live, ranges from rain forests to barren deserts to mega cities and tropical islands.
BOUND BY MYTH, a story of one young man versus AIDS
MBABANE, Swaziland--A 7-year-boy in a ragged gray shirt, with scabby knees and scuffed shoes, sits on a grass mat. He is listening intently to a presentation assuring him that the disease in his body is not his fault, an ancestor’s ire, or demon possession. He has heard all these reasons for his suffering from various elders. He has even been warned not to visit a clinic or accept antiretroviral (ARV) medication, or he will die.
The presentation, however, tells him that his HIV is the work of a microscopic being, contracted in his mother’s womb, and the ARVs will ensure him a fairly normal life if he faithfully takes them. This is probably the first time he has heard this information, cutting across tradition, superstition and syncretism.
Swaziland has the highest adult HIV prevalence in the world; almost 26 percent of the population is known to be infected, according to UNAIDS. Many others remain untested, to avoid the stigma carried by the disease. Sangomas -- traditional healers -- promise cures if proper sacrifices are made to the ancestors, while syncretistic pastors describe HIV as the work of demons and sufficient faith as a substitute for ARVs. Polygamy is the norm, with the king setting the standard with his 14 official wives. Premarital sex is expected; many believe sexual abstinence is physically impossible or can cause insanity.
Confronting traditional practices and corrupted religion, four young women seek to open the eyes of Swazi youth to the choice before them. Two, Brooklyn Evans* and Rachel Hays,* minister in the sugarcane fields and rural homesteads of northeast Swaziland, while Elisabeth Belle* and Sara Butler* work in the capital city, Mbabane, and surrounding mountains.
Appointed through the IMB’s Hands On program, these women are performing vital work. “What [we’re] telling people could literally save lives,” claims Evans.
Hays agrees, “If nothing is done about the AIDS epidemic, this country will die.”
The World Health Organization bears out this claim; data shows that 64 percent of all deaths in Swaziland in 2002 were related to HIV/AIDS. The CIA World Factbook reports Swaziland’s life expectancy -- 49 years -- is one of the lowest in the world.
Working with national partners, the Hands On missionaries use visual presentations and interactive skits to dispel common myths about HIV, its transmission, life with the disease, and, most importantly, how godly living is the only truly safe way. One demonstration shows how intercourse with multiple partners has repercussions far beyond those in direct contact, as each new relationship includes all past partners. The uncertainty of condoms as a means of HIV prevention is illustrated by a “poisoned” donut put in a bag with three other donuts and offered to the students -- they have a three-in-four chance of not dying.
Advocates also act out how sexual promiscuity tears apart families and lives, in addition to destroying health. Evans observes, “‘Don’t have sex’ is an important message, but it’s also, ‘Don’t give your heart away.’”
To this end, Evans and her teammates contrast the biblical story of Amnon, a son of David who raped his half-sister, with that of Joseph, the husband of Mary, highlighting the difference between love and lust as defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. They also use their personal testimonies of how they have upheld their pledge to wait for marriage.
The advocates face a huge task, as sexuality is rarely discussed openly, allowing superstition to flourish. Church attendance is no guarantee of right belief or action, as animism and ancestor worship often infiltrate churches. “Religion here is so intertwined with their culture …” Hays relates, “even people who are Christians still worry that the ancestors will be upset.”
She recalls one pastor who gave a Bible to an HIV-positive woman and “said, ‘If you follow Jesus, you won’t need these [ARV] pills anymore.’” The same man claimed testing was unnecessary because if one has the Holy Spirit, the “soldiers” that carry HIV cannot get into his or her blood.
Misconstrued Christianity often leads to disappointment. “The ‘prosperity gospel’ is huge here,” says Hays. “They think, ‘God will give me anything I want,’ and when He doesn’t, that’s when they go to a sangoma.”
The presentations the women give are based on a mindset very foreign to Swazis. Swazi culture places great importance on population size; to this end, women are expected to have at least five children and men are encouraged to impregnate multiple partners.
“You can give this presentation to 60, 70 people, and only five will really get it,” claims Hays. Additionally, Evans notes that while people may make a commitment to stay sexually pure, “Follow-through is very difficult.”
There is also a strong need for Christian men to set the example of godly living for young Swazis. A study by the UN Population Fund found that decision-making, including family planning and sexuality, is largely a male prerogative.
While elders often hold to traditional beliefs, the Hands On teams have seen progress in their young audience. “It’s been really encouraging to see kids getting it,” says Evans. “When the children understand what we’re teaching them, it’s fantastic.”
Butler concurs, “We’ve seen the amazing response of youth trusting us enough to ask real questions, because we’ll give them real answers.”
If you have any questions at all, I am happy to answer them! Just contact me through the message submission on the right side column.
I retain copyright to the images. You fill out a form I e-mail you... If approved, you are free to share them as need be!! The images will print up to an 11x14" (if you need larger images-send me a message with the necessary details).
It all goes to the lovely individuals photographed in the project. I am hoping to mail them their portraits, as well.
Drinking Straws - Many times patients in their last stages of a terminal disease are not able to sit up to take medication, and in rural areas liquid forms of medicines are generally not available. Pills are crushed and mixed with water and these bendable drinking straws assist the patient in swallowing their medicine. Also in end stage AIDS, a patient’s mouth is commonly full of ulcers and sores that make drinking from a cup very difficult.
Multi-Vitamins - The kit includes a 200 day supply of multi-vitamins. These are used to help bolster the immune system of the patient. With full blown AIDS the immune system is shutting down and not able to fight diseases. Multi-vitamins strengthen the body and increase the resistance to common illnesses.Note: We are requesting specific brands and quantities due to customs regulations and the need for uniformity.
Carmex Lip Balm – These two tubes of lip balm will help soothe the dry, chapped and cracked lips of the patient. Mouth and lip ulcers are very common to those with AIDS and this lip balm brings much needed relief.
Latex Free Disposable Gloves – This box of 50 gloves will assist and protect the caregivers as they care for the needs of the patient. Oozing and bleeding sores often form on the feet, legs and arms of the patient. Caregivers must protect themselves from bodily floods so that they do not contract HIV.
Gallon Bucket and Lid - This 5-gallon bucket is not just a container for the kit but will be used for a variety of essential tasks. Most recipients live in rural settings where the bucket will protect food from rodents and insects, as well as spoilage. It will be used to carry and store water for cleaning, cooking and bathing. It is a very practical and versatile item.
Dove Unscented Sensitive Skin BarSoap - Skin problems are very common for those with end stage AIDS. Antibacterial and other strong soaps can irritate their skin. This mild bar soap will help a caregiver keep the patient clean without causing pain to their already sensitive skin.
Fingernail Clippers – Those who are bed ridden and terminally ill are not able to care for their own nails, and most in rural settings do not have clippers for the caregiver to use. These clippers assist the caregiver in trimming the finger and toe nails in a sanitary manner.
Toothbrushes and Toothpaste - Toothbrushes are a luxury in many of the locations these kits are used. Many use twigs from trees or rags to clean their teeth. For someone who is not able to brush their own teeth a toothbrush and toothpaste greatly assists their caregivers in providing proper oral hygiene. Soft bristle toothbrushes areespecially needed for those with mouth ulcers.
Unscented Body Lotion – Skin issues are very common for those living with terminal illnesses. Being bed ridden and incontinent can cause severe skin problems. After using mild soap to bathe the patient, caregivers will apply this unscented body lotion to moisturize and protect the skin. It is an item that brings comfort to those who are hurting, and needs to be unscented so as not to irritate sensitive skin.
Unscented Petroleum Jelly - Petroleum Jelly is used to soothe and heal dry cracked skin, especially on the hands and feet. Many who live in rural areas sleep on straw mats on the floors of their huts or in very simple beds. Most have no heat or air conditioning. Consequently, their homes have frequent and large temperature fluctuations. Dry, scaly and cracked skin is common.
Thin Cotton Towel – This towel must be thin and cotton so that it will dry quickly in the sun or in the house. It will be used primarily to dry the patient after bathing and may need to be washed and dried several times a day.
Thin Washcloths - These also must be thin to allow them to dry quickly. They are used to bathe patients and to spot clean areas with sores. Four washcloths are needed because they will be used multiple times each day and must be washed and dried between uses.
Twin Flat Sheets and Pillowcases – Many patients do not have mattresses, and fitted sheets do not work well on the grass mats that most use for sleeping. These flat, cotton sheets give a clean, soft layer under the body that makes the patient feel better and provides a layer between the vinyl mattress protector underneath. In order to bring a more cheerful environment to an otherwise dreary room we ask for bright colors. We ask for two so that one can be washed and dried while the other is in use.
Twin Vinyl Mattress Protector - This is used to protect the grass mat or mattress from being soiled due to the incontinence of many patients. In some cases there is no one to assist the patient on a regular basis to go to a toilet, and they are not able to go alone. This is a very common problem for those terminally ill in rural settings.
Waterproof Multi-use Pads – Most of the patients who receive kits will be terminally ill and many will be bed ridden. These pads are to protect their sheets and sleeping mats or mattresses from becoming soiled. There are two washable pads provided so that one can be cleaned and dried while the other is in use. This assures that the patient can always have a clean, dry pad.
Latex Non-disposable Gloves –These gloves provide the caregiver a heavier pair of gloves to use for cleaning the home and washing the patient’s soiled clothing and linens.
Cotton Socks - For many who are bed ridden cold feet are a constant irritation due to decreased circulation. These socks keep cold feet warm and are greatly appreciated by the patients. We ask for two pairs so that one can be washed and dried while the other pair is in use.
13-Gallon Garbage Bag - When a kit is delivered the bucket is often needed immediately for carrying water or for storing food. This garbage bag allows the contents of the kit to be stored inside the bag while the bucket is in use. It needs to be a good quality sturdy garbage bag and should be packed on the top of the items in the kit (as shown in the instructions) so that it can be used as soon as the kit is opened.
Scrub Brush – A scrub brush is a much needed item in almost any household where laundry is washed by hand. This is also for use on surfaces that are more difficult to clean as well as for scrubbing mats, mattresses, pads and linens that are soiled. It is NOT for use on the patient.
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