Photo Stories: African Women and Kids
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Hello Wednesday, August 15

Lynn Warshafsky
Venice Arts

Posted 2:09PM on Wednesday, August 15, 2007 Pacific Time

The project is coming to a close and the team has been working in small groups trying to fill in gaps in the photo stories and making sure that every child has had plenty of opportunity to shoot. We are also furiously working on capturing bios and video interviews to further amplify the children's photos.

Today, Irenio and Saquina, their 4-year-old brother Miró, and their neighbor, Jeremias, went to meet the world-renowned Mozambican artist Malangatana at his Maputo home: a deep red, four-story studio and gallery of literally hundreds of paintings, sculptures, and etchings. We were already on the third floor when we heard a booming voice enquire, "Who made me walk up all these stairs to greet you?" An effusive man, Malangatana sat with the kids and talked about his art, as well as about AIDS and its devastating impact on Mozambique. The kids filled their cameras with images of the art and the man and left overjoyed to have been in his presence.

Later that afternoon, Irenio identified four photos as favorites out of nearly 200: Blade and Michael Jackson, which exemplifies his deep friendship with Blade, who he has know since he was a young teen. Forced out of the neighborhood when his house was demolished and his family relocated, Blade still regularly visits Irenio and, since his Irenio's mother died, brings him bread. Family is a portrait of the family that Jeremias has been living with since losing both of his parents. The woman he calls "grandmother" is dressed in black, as she lost her husband one month ago. Irenio said that he wasn't able to come to see Jeremias after his "grandfather" died, so was happy to come and see his family and, through his photo, pay his respects. Irenio laughs when speaking about Experienced Hands, a picture of a man who lives near Reencontro and carves wood. He was interested in shooting his hands because he thought they also looked like sculpture. View from the Back of the House shows the beauty that one can find in a smoky sky, even if it is above a garbage dump where children play. He said that the garbage dump was created after the houses in his neighborhood were leveled because the government neglected to fill in the resulting holes.

Tomorrow we do our last shoot and, on Friday, we host a party to say goodbye. Our work once we return to Los Angeles is already clear: in addition to printing and preparing the exhibit and the book, continue to solicit financial support for traveling the exhibit in Mozambique, the United States, and elsewhere, as well as to support the development of a small photo program at Reencontro for the most talented and dedicated children.

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Things are getting worse. People are getting infected everyday, even if you educate people. And also, there is still a lot of discrimination.
Pamela Mvinjelwa
Cape Town project participant


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