In 2006, I read that sub-Saharan Africa would soon be home to more than twenty million AIDS orphans, then met a family of children in a remote paradisiacal village in the Rakai district of Uganda. I’ve returned to this village for five periods of two months, and have allowed these children to guide me through their world. Documenting what it feels like to be a kid in the epicenter of the AIDS pandemic, I’ve attended school, gardened, “swam,” and foraged with them for both fruit and insects. As I complete this body of work, my final stretch includes the creation of a series of landscape and contextual images — this time, from a child’s point of view.
This long-term body of work is in a mature stage of development. The portfolio presented here is comprised of twenty-two of the more than thirty portraits made of these children between 2006 and 2016. An additional forty plus landscape and contextual images created between 2014 and 2016 complement this existing portraiture and are currently being woven into the final edit.
UGANDA. Rakai. 2013. Agnes, 9, washing dishes.
(Top image: UGANDA. Rakai. 2008. Eddie, 10, after being tested for HIV.)
UGANDA. Rakai. 2008. Primary school student pointing to numbers on a chalkboard.
UGANDA. Rakai. 2006. A young girl grasping the door’s padlock with her hand.
UGANDA. Rakai. 2008. Grace, 15, and Scovia, 12, running.
UGANDA. Rakai. 2008. James, 12, 'swimming.'
UGANDA. Rakai. 2008. Molly, 14, James, 12, and Jacque, 4, waiting their turn to bathe. They lie on their mattress, put in the sun to dry.
UGANDA. Rakai. 2013. Eddie, 14, and James, 16, shooting pool.
UGANDA. Rakai. 2008. Helen and Molly, 14, and Eddie, 10, playing with string.
UGANDA. Rakai. 2006. Helen, 12, sitting in a tree. Her brother, Eddie, 8, swinging on a rope below her.
UGANDA. Rakai. 2008. Molly, 14, playing a game with dried fruit.
UGANDA. Rakai. 2009. Dennis, 11, standing atop termite mound.
UGANDA. 2008. Primary school student sharing edible ants.
UGANDA. Rakai. 2012. Jacque, 8, playing football.
UGANDA. Rakai. 2013. Helen, 18, grooming.
UGANDA. Rakai. 2013. Eddie, 14, and James, 16, adjusting antenna to receive radio signal.
UGANDA. Rakai. 2006. Helen and Molly, 12, digging the soil in which they will grow sweet potatoes.
UGANDA. Rakai. 2011. Scovia, 14, foraging for mangoes.
UGANDA. Rakai. 2012. Silver fish.
UGANDA. Rakai. 2014. Eddie, 16, carrying kid.
UGANDA. Rakai. 2010. James, 14, standing on his head.
UGANDA. Rakai. 2011. Fahad, 7, lying on his mother’s grave.