Nongabulo Revisited: HIV/AIDS Beyond Infancy (Photo Project)
This is a story of then and now. Orphaned & abandoned children communally cared for and their stories recaptured ten years later.
Nongabulo Revisited is a photographic project that started almost eleven years ago when I visited a unique children's village in South Africa, dedicated to caring for orphaned or abandoned babies and children affected by HIV/AIDs. Nongabulo is the name of one of the young girls I was lucky enough to spend time with, and also means happiness in Zulu.
During the three months I spent volunteering at the village, I picked up a camera properly for the first time and dedicated some time to taking photographs of these children using all that I had at the time, an old Canon film camera, which I barely knew how to use.
I wanted to make a difference to their lives in some way, and knew that if others could witness what I saw in them – beauty, cheekiness, love and strength – I could potentially use the images to create awareness for HIV/AIDS.
Upon arriving home, I was able to do this through my first solo photography exhibition at the Blender Gallery in Sydney. Kindly sponsored by EPSON, The Boomerang Project and Apheda, the exhibition featured images of the children and was also used as a fundraising venture with more than $30,000 raised. The funds that were raised were used to buy a bus for the children to help with transporting them to and from school, and for excursions.
Fast forward to 2016 and I have now been working for many years as a professional photographer. My wish is to go back to Rehoboth Children's Village and the surrounding area of Port Shepstone, South Africa, in order to create a ‘then and now’ series of photographs.
Some of the children I photographed during my first visit have reached maturity and now live within the local community. Part of this project will involve locating and re-photographing these young adults. I will return with the original camera I used all those years ago, again using the traditional film format.
This ‘then and now’ photographic series will capture stories told through the children of an AIDS epidemic, while also being a reflection of time passed. It aims to not only raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, but also give hope to other young people affected by the virus.