Photomosaic Illustrates AIDS Reality in Malawi

 

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One such CBO is the Luzi Orphan Care Organization, which, among other things, provides home-based care to people affected by HIV/AIDS. Goldring set up his own organization, LuziCare, to raise money for the existing Malawian organization. To date LuziCare has funneled $6,000 to the Malawi-based organization, which allowed it to more than triple the number of people receiving aid. Goldring and fellow students have raised an additional $3,000 since October with more to come.

Photo courtesy of Face-to-Face AIDS Project
Photo courtesy of Face-to-Face AIDS Project

“The reason for the growth of the existing home-based care program is LuziCare,” Goldring said, “because of those capital inputs, because of the ambulance bicycles, because they can get around more easily.” Much of the money, he says, came from Colby students and their parents through fundraisers on campus.

Two years into the project, Goldring sought to bring the photomosaics to Colby. Having put so much into, and gained so much from, the photomosaics project, Goldring wanted his classmates to see it. “I see each portrait and I remember the interview. I remember the several hours we spent with that person, and I know the back story really well,” he said. “It’s sort of like I’m sharing something very important to me, very personal to me, with the rest of Colby. And to see … their response, to see them interested—not just interested but sort of enthralled—is really, really rewarding.”

After installing the photomosaics in the Diamond Building, Wong spoke to Colby students about his work. He showed photos and videos of the people in Malawi. He told stories. About people who died of AIDS because, he believes, they gave up hope. About a girl who was so close to death that she couldn’t speak, but who now loves to sing. And he talked to students about going abroad. “Don’t go abroad convinced that you’re going there to help them,” he said. “You have to be really careful of placing your Western attitudes on their culture. The best way to go is just to go and learn.”

Americans can help, Wong said, through supporting local organizations and by allowing the people in these communities to take responsibility and control.

He urged students who go abroad to avoid making promises they can’t keep, and he said that too many in Africa have been given false hope by people who never return. He encouraged students to learn as much as they can about people, their culture, and their history—really get to know people. “It really is about the individual,” he said. “It’s about their lives, it’s about them connecting with you.”

Goldring said underclassmen plan to take over LuziCare after he graduates. “We’re working very hard this semester to create the organizational structure such that it will be able to continue next year.”

Just as Wong shared his passion with Goldring who, in turn, inspired a movement at Colby, Goldring has passed his passion on.

 
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  • On April 21, 2009, Susanna Schneider wrote:
    Almost thirty years and 300,000 miles after an impromptu Colby Jan Plan in Zomba, I can honestly say Malawi set the benchmark.