Photo Stories: African Women and Kids
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Heading to Mozambique: House is Small

Lynn Warshafsky
Venice Arts

Posted 12:27PM on Sunday, July 29, 2007 Pacific Time

As you read this, I will be on a plane to Mozambique, having attended to the last details related to bringing 20 cameras and a team of 10 media artists to work with 21 kids in Maputo, Mozambique, while keeping half an eye on my 9-year-old daughter, Sofie, preparing for her third trip to the African continent for a Venice Arts' Social Art Initiative project.

We are traveling to Maputo to complete the second phase of The House is Small but the Welcome is Big, which we launched in 2006 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Cape Town project photographers were 15 women -- all moms or moms-to-be -- living with HIV/AIDS. In Maputo, there will be 21 project photographers: 15 kids orphaned by AIDS who, although some as young as 11 or 12, are now raising their younger siblings on their own; and 6 youth activists using other art and media forms to educate their peers on AIDS, malaria, sanitation, and girls' equality.

Between them, they represent the more than 500,000 Mozambican kids who have lost their parents to AIDS and, also, the growing number of Mozambican teens using innovative methods to advocate their concerns and inspire action.

I look forward to seeing the rich and varied photos that they will create. Through their pictures they will, I am certain, significantly enlarge upon many people's notions of what it means to be living as a young person in this particular country at this particular time in history. My own best hope? That the project will contribute, even if in a small way, to effecting change by attaching real faces and stories to abstract numbers and helping some of those who are the most voiceless amongst us make a lasting record of their lives.

This year, our team is expanded. We are not only bringing more photographers but, also, an accomplished documentary filmmaker, Chris Zalla, who will work with one child on a documentary short under the auspices of BYkids. We are also bringing the wonderful Internet whiz (among other talents), Eugene Ahn, who single–handedly designed our interactive website -- -- assuring that photos, writing, video and audio are posted online as quickly as possible so that all of you, back home, can watch our project unfold. This is our first venture into the world of the interactive web, and we are very excited about what we'll be able to offer both our project participants and each of you. I encourage you to:

  • Go now to and explore the site.
  • Follow the story as it unfolds:

    • Subscribe to our email notification and we'll tell you each time new content is posted.
    • Subscribe to our PODCAST and receive new video and audio when you open iTunes.
    • Track the blogs and images of our mentor–artists, kids, and partners.

  • Click on the "tell a friend" link at the bottom of the page and help us to spread the word.
  • Click on "let's hear it from you" link at the top of the page and share your own impressions about the project, a blog, the photos or other media, with us.

So check out the new site. Visit it regularly. Spread the word. Let us know what you think.


P.S. I hope to see you this Fall when we open our first exhibit of the kids’ work in Los Angeles, celebrating the launch of our new Institute for Photographic Empowerment at USC, a joint project of Venice Arts and the Annenberg School for Communications.

comments from website visitors:

I am definitely bookmarking this page and share it with my friends. :)
Posted Monday, November 30, 2009 8:39AM

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What I can say to my family, and my community, is that the most important thing is love, not money. Sometimes they say that they don’t visit us because they have nothing to give us. We need love, not things. Even with money you can still feel alone inside.
Maputo project participant

A social art initiative by