Album from UNAIDS Photo Galleries
Portraits of Commitment: You don't have to be in power to be a leader
06 October 2008
Portraits of Commitment” is a stunning and thought-provoking book of photographic portraits which was launched by the Asia Pacific leadership Forum on HIV/AIDS and Development (APLF). The book features people from all walks of life in South Asia who, for a range of different reasons, are working to raise awareness among their communities about HIV.
Shazia Marri: Politician, Pakistan “You’d be surprised that many parliamentarians don’t know what HIV is.” Shazia was married at 13 and entered politics at 29 as a parliamentarian in Sindh province and daringly introduced an AIDS bill.
Malvika Subba: Former Miss Nepal “People listen to what I say.” While competing for Miss Nepal in 2002, Malvika Subba made a speech about the need for AIDS awareness among the young. She won the title and now promotes AIDS awareness as a television presenter. “I want to make it easier for young people to talk about issues so they don’t have to take up drugs.”
Laxmi Narayan Tripathi: Dancer, activist, India “Many hijras, my friends, started dying and I didn’t know how to save them.” At 14 Laxmi joined the transgender hijra. Hijras are largely shunned and Laxmi turned to campaigning and providing social support. “It was a responsibility I couldn’t walk away from - to make sure no more died because they couldn’t receive treatment.”
Jahnabi Goswami: Director of “Assam Network of Positive People,” India “It’s our responsibility as positive people to give information to others.” At 15, Jahnabi Goswami was married to an HIV positive man. He and their child later died. It was two years before she was able to find out about HIV. Her family, friends and neighbours encouraged her to “do something”.
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev: Spiritual guru, India “This was something we could not ignore.” Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev has brought spirituality and yoga to the treatment of people living with HIV through the Isha Foundation. There are 150 centres worldwide. In the media and among the public, Sadhguru rallies against stigma and discrimination."
Huma Khawar: Journalist, Pakistan “I realised that unless you give a human face to the AIDS story, you can’t convince people that it’s here.” Huma Khawar was the first journalist in Pakistan to look seriously into the scope and impact of AIDS. She has won wide recognition for her work.
Mostafa Kamal Jatra: Drama therapist, Bangladesh “I choose to empower.” Mostafa Kamal Jatra founded the United Theatre for Social Action which addresses community issues and individual therapy through street theatre and one-to-one. “Slum people are not literate, how can they read about precautions? If we make the message visual, they will remember.”
Rahul Dravid: India Cricket Captain, India “I knew so little about AIDS but I saw that it was reaching beyond high-risk groups.” Rahul Dravid is ranked among the 10 best batsmen in the world. He has recorded TV and radio messages that aim to reach villages to raise AIDS awareness. “People working on the ground tell me that what we do makes a difference.”
Deepak and Rosy Khadgi: Nepal “We sell my art to raise money for positive people.” Deepak Khadgi and his wife Rosy are former injecting drug users and are both HIV-positive. They have set up an NGO offering counselling and livelihood skills. “My wife and I have been through a lot of pain, mostly because of people who shunned us. We decided to take it upon ourselves to help ourselves and others.”
Shalina Bharat: Dean of the School of Health Systems Studies Mumbai, India “Research should have a purpose... it should make some impact on policy” Shalina Bharat conducted the first research into AIDS-related stigma, discrimination and denial. This gave international policymakers their first real insight into marginalized groups and those most at risk, particularly women. She also produced ground breaking research into the household and community response to AIDS.
Princey Mangalika: President, Lanka Plus, Sri Lanka “Villagers had seen me bathing my husband in the backyard and were worried when it rained they would get AIDS.” When her husband died of AIDS, neighbours threatened to kill Princey Mangalika. After finding she was HIV-positive, she became a counsellor and co-founded Lanka Plus. “I’m not going to let another woman get infected.”
Rubina Asim and Asim Ashraf: HIV-negative wife and HIV-positive husband Rubina: “One of the reasons we got married is to show it’s not right to hate or have stigma against HIV-positive people, but to let them live and enjoy life.” Asim: “She told me that I do so much for others, and she wanted to do something for me and my family, and together we’ll work for others.”
Tahir Baig Barlas: Health & Safety Manager, Shell Pakistan “AIDS is knocking at our door. We have the opportunity to do something now.” Dr Tahir Baig Barlas established a workplace policy on AIDS. By localizing Shell’s guidelines, he addressed taboo subjects - sexual behaviour and stigma - in workplace discussions. “It’s all about risk management. If there’s no safety, there’s no business.”
Yusif Hamid: Humanitarian drug maker, India Yusif Hamid heads Cipla, one of the leading manufacturers of generic drugs. “Things designed or invented using public-funded research should be public property. I’m a great believer that life-saving drugs should be made available freely in developing countries and that there should be no monopolies in health care.”
Dr Michael Abeyaratne: Husband and campaigner, Sri Lanka “People used to ask me why I’m doing this, hanging around, wasting my life. I said I didn’t make vows in public but to myself.” Dr Michael Abeyaratne’s wife was the first in Sri Lanka to say she was HIV-positive on national TV. She’d been infected through a blood transfusion. Her husband; a paediatric surgeon gave up his career to help her in her AIDS-related work before she died.