Papua is the largest province in Indonesia and it's home to approximately 1% of Indonesia's population. However, approximately 40% of all HIV/AIDS cases in Indonesia are located in Papua. Currently, Papua has the highest HIV/AIDS infection rate in the country, 15 times higher than the national average and the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence outside of Africa. Considering poverty, social and economic inequality, lack of information and awareness, insufficient access and adherence to treatment have made Indigenous Papuans most vulnerable and facing the highest risk of infection, stigma, and mortality.
The plight of indigenous Papuans is under documented with very few articles and images depicting the issue accurately and thoroughly. My goals are to bring attention to this issue and urge immediate actions to help contain the spread of HIV and provide vital aid to indigenous Papuans.
Awareness, prevention, and treatment and care are the cornerstones of effective responses to HIV/AIDS. All people, including people living with HIV/AIDS, have a right to the highest attainable standard of health. I believe response to HIV/AIDS should be recognized as contributing to realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms and equality for all regardless of gender, race and cultural background. Thus, these essentials must be guaranteed to indigenous Papuans to ensure a better chance of survival, instill a sense of hope and provide a better quality of life to those living with HIV/AIDS and assist on the longevity of indigenous Papuans population.
Initially photography started as a medium to record a moment in time just in case my memory fails. As for self-expressions, the camera was a tool to convey how I perceive the world through my distorted view of reality. Nevertheless, I’ve come to understand that photography is and has always been an instrument of social change and as photographers we have a responsibility beyond recording that we were there. As the operator of this instrument we cannot remain objective because our photographs represent the voices of people that have been ignored or a great injustice. Thus, we should take a stand for freedom, equality, and humanity while remaining honest in our message while maintaining the dignity of the people we photograph.
They say humanity greatest evil is the ignorance of their own ignorance and photography is an essential that employs honest truth layered with intellectual and emotional elements that could not and should not be ignored. It presents facts shockingly or tactfully while urging the audience to stop, look, think, feel, and act. When one sees a photo, semi-consciously we look at ourselves. Thus, a photograph is a bridge that brings together the viewer and the subject on the same plane of reality, place, and moment inciting anger, admiration, respect, and empathy.
I believe that our ultimate goal in life is to reach our potential and the key is through continuous growth. Change is inevitable, but growth is intentional and always yields positive results. I always strive to become a better photographer, a visual communicator, and an activist of positive social change. Bottom line, it’s not enough to be good when one could be better. Tension creates growth and if you are comfortable then you are probably not growing. Nevertheless, this is insufficient because we need to be a better human being. A photographer without passion, compassion and a conscience is a skilled technician. These things are timeless and couldn’t be learned or substituted. In the end, our short existence in this world is defined by our success in applying them in our lives.
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