By Helen Tchepournova
SPECIAL TO THE
Photo by Alexander Belenky / SPT
An exhibition on display in St.Petersburg offers a glimpse into realities of life for HIV-positive residents in the Kibera slums of
"Here and in the
Through May 17, Kiboko Projects - a New York-based, non-profit organization - presenting an exhibition of five diverse projects created through workshops with artists, students and families in the
Kiboko Projects, started in 1999 as a labor of love by Scheflen, a New York-based visual artist, has grown into a flourishing cultural organization that has since sponsored workshops, exhibitions, and cultural exchange programs on three continents.
Its stated aim is to provide "opportunities for artistic and creative expression to individuals, some of whom have had limited access to this experience."
This has meant reaching out through art and education to tell the unfiltered stories of people of all ages and diverse backgrounds, from people with HIV/AIDS, physically- and mentally-handicapped people, children from neglectful families, immigrants, and ex-offenders, to students and professional artists.
The current exhibition documents recent projects organized by the charity, as well as including elements from previous shows. The exhibition showcases compelling stories captured on video in Kenya, such as that of a family of children aged 13-18 orphaned by AIDS, a young woman who had turned to prostitution to pay her school fees, and a 29-year-old father of four struggling to ensure that his children will be taken care of after his anticipated death from AIDS.
"My name is Henry Ombasa. I am 29, married and blessed with four children. I'm HIV positive. But there's no hope since I come from a poor slum area in Nairobi," writes one man in a Photodiary that shows him volunteering for an AIDS- prevention organization, caring for his fellow people affected by HIV/AIDS in the Kibera slum - home to 1.2 million people who lack such basic amenities as toilets, running water, or electricity.
"People need to know about it, that's when the stigma starts to fall off," said Jill Raufman, Kiboko Projects' executive director. She and Scheflen have been working on extending the Kiboko concept to further parts of the world.
Aside from the current show, Kiboko Projects is embarking on two new workshop series, in conjunction with Lions Great Bear, a nonprofit association from