ABBOTT PARK, Ill., Nov. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- One in four children with HIV in Malawi ( Africa ) will die before their fifth birthday. In other parts of Africa and throughout the developing world, the situation is the same, or even worse -- with millions of children dying or watching family members die ofthis devastating disease.
In India , Revathi, 17, becomes reflective and sad when she looks at the photographs she has taken of small children in her hometown of Vijayawada.The images remind her of her little brother who died of AIDS last year. Revathi's mother and father are also infected with HIV, bringing sadness and an uncertain future into her home -- causing this teenager to grow up all too soon. In Burkina Faso , Moussa, 18, lost his father and then his uncle to AIDS. Despite these challenges, he dreams of becoming an artist one day.
Representing the millions of children whose lives have been thrown into chaos by the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS -- Moussa and Revathi, and many others, now have the opportunity to have their stories told and their voices heard through a powerful program called Picturing Hope. Some of these children will bring their stories of hope to Chicago for the first time aspart of a compelling exhibit of their photography called "Through Their Eyes." The children will preview the exhibit and share their stories with Chicago-area high school students at a special reception on Nov. 29 . The "Through Their Eyes" exhibit will be open to the public starting November 30, 2006 and run through January 10, 2007 at the Hokin Gallery at
"It is an incredible experience to watch these children as they begin toopen up and talk about their lives, and even more incredible to watch what they capture on film," said Craig Bender , founder and program director, Picturing Hope. "These children are the new face of AIDS around the world,and this program allows their issues and voices to be heard."
The Abbott Fund is the exclusive sponsor of Picturing Hope, as one part ofits ongoing commitment to address the needs of children affected by HIV/AIDS around the world. The children involved in Picturing Hope have been referred to this program by other Abbott Fund-supported programs that help meet their health, medical or educational needs or provide social services to them andtheir families.
"We believe that it is important to support not only the obvious medicalneeds of children who have been affected by HIV/AIDS, but to find innovative ways to address some of the emotional issues that can overwhelm them," saidReeta Roy, divisional vice president, Global Citizenship and Policy, Abbott. "Picturing Hope not only provides an outlet for these children to expressthemselves, but at the same time it helps educate people around the world about the plight of children who have been orphaned or otherwise affected by AIDS."
About Picturing Hope
The Picturing Hope program, sponsored by the Abbott Fund, was developed by professional photographer Craig Bender, a Chicago native, when a trip to Africa left him with a lingering desire to do something more to help these children, knowing that even when their physical or treatment needs are met, the psychological impact of HIV on their lives is often ignored.
With support from the Abbott Fund, Bender worked with child psychologistsand local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to develop the Picturing Hopeprogram -- teaching children affected by AIDS to express their emotions and tell their stories through photography and writing. Picturing Hope is nowestablished in five countries -- Burkina Faso , India , Malawi , Romania and Tanzania . The best photographs from this project, along with select journalentries, are featured in the "Through Their Eyes" exhibit. For more information on Picturing Hope, visit http://picturinghope.org .
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