Global Lens Reflections on life, the universe, and everything

HIV letter

Children in a 7th grade class of the Isaacson Primary School in the Rockville area of Soweto, South Africa, write letters to the government's minister of health asking for easier access to medication for children who are living with HIV. The educational and advocacy work in this school is sponsored by the Christian AIDS Bureau for Southern Africa.

Part of the story about HIV and AIDS which is not reported enough are those myriad acts of everyday solidarity and advocacy carried out by ordinary people who may not themselves be directly affected by the virus. Here’s a boy in a 7th grade class of the Isaacson Primary School in the Rockville neighborhood of Soweto, South Africa, as he writes a letter to his government's minister of health asking for easier access to medication for children who are living with HIV. I’d gone to the school on assignment for the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance to photograph as the class discussed the issue and wrote letters, and I took the kind of photos you’d expect of kids sitting at desks, writing letters, and of the discussion, which was facilitated by a staff member of the Christian AIDS Bureau for Southern Africa. Solid pics, but nothing dramatically different. It was this image, out of all the photos, taken from directly above Mbali and using f6.3 (1/125 second at ISO 3600) to give me enough depth of field to keep both the text and his facial features in focus, that stood out for me. It captures a small act of solidarity, sure. But it’s nonetheless a challenge to most of us who sit around and do even less.

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