Giving voice to stories that need to be heard
The House is Small but the Welcome is Big explores the impact of HIV/AIDS as experienced through the eyes of women and children living in South Africa and Mozambique. The first phase of the project was completed in February 2006, in collaboration with the much-lauded Mothers2Mothers, when Venice Arts' photographers traveled to Cape Town, South Africa to teach 15 HIV positive women, recent moms and moms-to-be, how to document their lives photographically. Working with Venice Arts' photo mentors, these courageous women, many of whom had chosen to fight HIV stigma by "coming out" about their status and educating other pregnant women in the hopes of preventing mother-to-child transmission, created a powerful body of documentary photography that gives a human face to the continuing global AIDS crisis and, in particular, its impact on women and children.
The project also positively impacted many of the women's lives in unanticipated ways: some received money from project images sold in the U.S., resulting in sometimes dramatic outcomes. As one example, one women was able to add a room to her shack so that her daughter, recently rescued from an abusive relationship, could live with her. Additionally, two of the women, Funeka Nceke and Caroline Kompe, went on to photo school, receiving tuition support from one of the project's co-creators.
The second phase of The House is Small takes place in Mozambique in August 2007 where we are working in collaboration with UNICEF, the African Millennium Foundation (AMF) and local NGO called Reencontro. With AMF and Reencontro, we will be teaching documentary photography to children who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS and are now caring for their younger sisters and brothers. With UNICEF, we will be working with teenagers who already use the arts to educate other youths about social issues. For the first time this year, working with BYkids, project co-creator Neal Baer and filmmaker Christopher Zalla, who won this year's Grand Jury Prize at Sundance for his film Padre Nuestro, will also select one child to create a documentary film short. We have also built an interactive website www.thehouseissmall.org), where the public can follow the project as it unfolds.
The House is Small has been featured in print media and online, including BBC Africa and the UN Chronicle. It will be featured, as well, in IRIN, which provides humanitarian news and analysis through the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. We are organizing a U.N. exhibit for 2008.
We will continue to travel both the women's and children's work, which will also be featured in a book in order to continue to raise public awareness and, hopefully, influence public policy related to HIV/AIDS.
The House Is Small but the Welcome is Big was co-created by creative director, Jim Hubbard, physician / executive producer and Venice Arts' Board member, Neal Baer, M.D., and Venice Arts' co-founder, Lynn Warshafsky. We are grateful to the African Millennium Foundation's Malena Ruth for her extraordinary efforts on our behalf and on behalf of children impacted by HIV/AIDS. With her assistance, the children's work will be traveled throughout Mozambique to support AIDS education and community awareness activities.
Special thanks, as well, to volunteers Eugene Ahn and Russell Baer; to photographer Stephen Barrett; to Tiffany Anderson and Giselle Macfarlane; to Margaux Poueymirou; to South African partners Mitch Besser, Erica Corbett, Fiona Tudor Price/Atomic Productions, and Robin Smalley; and to REENCONTRO and UNICEF.