In Swaziland, more than one in four people are HIV-positive. That's the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world. The impact goes beyond the individuals who must manage a health crisis. Children who would be too young to attend a U.S. middle school often end up heading households. They must care for their brothers and sisters, find their own food, and discover some way to move forward.
One Indianapolis-based organization, Saving Orphans through Healthcare and Outreach (SOHO) works to bring relief and hope to these brave children. Alongside several partner organizations, SOHO seeks not only to serve those kids, but also to document their stories of difficulty and triumph. Josef Kissinger, a partner in SOHO's "Hope Seekers" project and a photographer who tackles topics including child trafficking in Nepal and street life throughout the world, focused his viewfinder on Swaziland's orphans.
"I wanted to use my camera to make some kind of a difference, to do something that is more meaningful," says Kissinger in a WFYI-produced video. "Being there and seeing the kids, just their courage, made me happy that I made that choice."
Kissinger's photos go beyond the kind of heartstrings-and-guilt images used by late-night advertisements, designed to motivate donors to give to their organizations. Instead, he both underscores the immense hardship that these young survivors face and celebrates their humanity. "Hope Seekers" is on display at the Herron School of Art and Design's Marsh Gallery Feb. 12 to 22.]