Visit the exhibit website.
Swaziland is a country of contrast. This small African nation has natural resources, quiet borders, and beautiful people.
Yet among its peaceful citizens, AIDS is ravaging the nation. Swaziland holds the ominous distinction of having the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world – 42 percent. Experts predict that as many as half the population could be lost to this disease.
The impact of AIDS goes far beyond those who are infected. In Swaziland:
• 15 thousand households have lost parents and are being led by children
• By 2012, there could be as many as 200,000 AIDS orphans – 20 percent of the population
Swazi women are the caregivers, and since AIDS has claimed the lives of so many people in their childbearing years, the burden of raising children has been left to the grandmothers. Even if a child is fortunate enough to have a grandmother, they can still be very vulnerable without the necessary resources for their basic needs such as: education, medical care, clothing, or even food. Is there hope in such a desperate place?
Award-winning artist Sunni Mercer saw the need and felt compelled to tell the story of women and children in Swaziland through the medium she knew best –her art. She invited professional photographers Eric and Bridget Pipkin to join in the making of this exhibit. Through sculpture, photography, and narratives, these stories are being told in a compelling exhibit called Lizinga Lemandla Ami: The Measure of My Strength – A Sculptural Exhibit.
The exhibit premiered October 15th, 2010, at the IAO Gallery located at 706 W. Sheridan in Oklahoma City. The artwork is available to travel, bringing awareness of the issues facing women and children in Swaziland. The exhibit will also encourage others to participate in the Swaziland Partnership.
The exhibit includes interactive panels, photos, an informative video, and a photo book. Proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit three organizations:
• The Swaziland HIV/AIDS Task Force—Offering home-based care for those suffering from HIV/AIDS , disabilities, and other terminal illnesses
• Gigi’s Place—Providing education and food to preschool street children
• Morningstar Institute—Southern Nazarene University’s micro-finance assistance to community projects that are feeding and financially supporting vulnerable individuals and communities
For more information on the Swaziland Partnership, how to get involved, or to schedule this exhibit at your school, church, or event, please contact Barbi Moore.