'Hope Seekers' exhibit provides intimate look at child-led households created by AIDS pandemic

  • Feb. 4, 2014


INDIANAPOLIS -- The HIV/AIDS pandemic in Swaziland is creating an epidemic of its own -- an exploding number of households in the South African kingdom that are headed by children, some as young as eight or nine.

Swaziland has the world's highest rate of HIV/AIDS cases, with one in four people infected by the virus. The adult AIDS death rate results in a new orphan every 14 seconds - creating the phenomenon of child-led families.

Herron School of Art and Design on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus this month is hosting an exhibit of photographs exploring the lives of children in these families.

"Hope Seekers: Survival of Southern African Child-Led Households in the Shadow of HIV," runs Feb. 5 through Feb. 22 in Marsh Gallery at Eskenazi Hall, 735 W. Michigan St.

 "It tells the stories of these children and really allows people to enter into an experience of gaining more of an intimate look at the child-led households in South Africa," said Cynthia Prime, CEO of Saving Orphans through Healthcare and Outreach (SOHO), the Indianapolis-based non-profit organization taking a leading role in efforts to help educate, nurture and feed the child-led families.

Special activities associated with the exhibit include:

  •  A panel discussion, followed by a book signing and reception at 6 p.m. on Feb. 12 in Basile Auditorium, Eskenazi Hall.
  •  An unveiling of a life-size prototype of sustainable, safe and secure housing designed by IUPUI engineering and technology students for orphans in Swaziland, followed by presentations by students from Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School, 6 p.m., Feb. 18, Eskenazi Hall.

The Herron exhibit has the support of several IUPUI academic units, along with other community members and organizations.

 "This exhibition represents great collaboration across IUPUI’s many schools and programs.  We are excited about the momentum we’ve built working in partnership with SOHO, as we increase IUPUI’s connections with Indianapolis, Swaziland, and the world," said Jane Luzar, dean of the IUPUI Honors College.

In addition to photographs taken by Josef Kissinger, the exhibit includes artifacts created by Swaziland children.

The artifacts include a large toy vehicle, called a Kombi, built out of wire, soft drink cans, and bottle caps; and a floor mat made from garbage bags and candy wrappers.

"These articles show that these children have promise and creativity," Prime said. "They are called hope seekers because if they had options, they could change the world they live in."

Exhibit sponsors are: Herron School of Art and Design, Josef Kissinger Photography, Saving Orphans through Healthcare and Outreach, IUPUI Office of International Affairs, WFYI, IUPUI Solution Center, IUPUI Museum Studies, Department of History at IUPUI School of Liberal Arts, Indiana Kentucky Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters, and Society of Student Constructors.


Children sharing cornmeal, from Hope Seekers exhibit

Children sharing cornmeal, from Hope Seekers exhibit

Print Quality Photo

Diane Brown