Like each canvas we stand alone, alone in making sense of who we are - building an identity. HIV is a chronic disease that can and does lead to stress and problems in mental health. Accepting the diagnosis and possible self-stigma, disclosing status and facing rejection, adhering to treatment when life and its demands get in the way. Through my painting I have always said one small action added to another, added to another, can grow to something bigger. Here 14 small canvases are transformed when together creating the larger picture. Mental health of those living with HIV is too often overlooked, there are too few services available, and when these problems are not addressed it can lead to stopping treatment and increased health risks. In these paintings I wanted to explore some of those issues, and bring attention to the lack of mental health service for the vulnerable populations who are left behind.
May 2015 - For his school project, Owen McCullough 11 has been painting for Elijah's education. He has spent the last 6 weeks painting 24 paintings that represent the number of children born with HIV in one hour.
Owen has already sold all his paintings and the money will go to Elijah 12, born with HIV and living in Nairobi Kenya, to help with his education.
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Friday 3 October 2014
This week my home was burgled; the burglars made straight for my room and emptied all the draws. As you may know I sell my painting pretty much cash in hand and then send the funds, also through hands to Kenya. Recently I gave to Juliana and Maurine, so I did not have as much cash in my little box but enough to send a few girls to school for a year. The burglars found my box and it is gone, it was a sad day for my education fund. I wish I had sent it all, but I have committed to support girls in school, and that is not just a one off commitment I am already planning for the year to come. Maurine and I had discussed this and we are keeping our model to doing it well for a few instead of spreading our reach too far and it not being sustainable.
Working on the education fund reminds me of a game of snakes and ladders, when Carole last month gave me some money to help a girl from the goodness of her heart it was a ladder, the burglar was a true long snake. I am back on down the bottom row but not quite on square one. Maurine posted this week that with the funds recently received we have helped three orphan girls living with HIV. It paid their school fees arrears, bought them school uniforms, shoes, books and sanitary towels. Maurine’s words: ‘They are now happily back in school and looking forward to a bright future. These truly are paintings of HOPE’.
I am delighted of the what we have achieved and I thank all those who have supported the work by purchasing a painting from me or helping as they can.
Before going home this evening Sophie came to see me her words: 'I want to pay more for the painting I bought off you' and she gave me the money again, HUGE thank you to Sophie for helping build up the fund agian. It is because of people like here that we can have hope that our world will be a better place. THANK YOU SOPHIE
I want to take a moment to note that sanitary towels are so important for these young girls. Too many young women miss school because they do not have the protection they need to go to school during their period. Today I had a friend request from Jane Anyango from Kiberia. Jane signed up to a crowed funding site and raised over $2,500 dollars, with it she has provided 800 girls with pads and pants so that they can attended school until January and no longer miss a few days a months. Another great women doing wonders in keeping girls in school.
London 18 September 2014
I attend the IAPAC Conference: HIV Controlling the HIV epidemic with antiretroviral. The meeting took place at the basement of the Royal Garden Hotel in South Kensington. London was at its best, the sun shone over the city and the leaves on the trees were taking a golden hue. Despite sitting under artificial lights as the sun shone outside the debates at the conference were riveting. I had the pleasure of meeting Ambassador Birx, the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator PEPFAR, and sitting on a panel with her on why access to paediatric HIV treatment is so important today. In one of Deborah’s presentation she showed some astonishing facts:
This week alone:
Our work is not done.
The fight against HIV continues, too few children have access to treatment and too many young women are being infected with HIV. I can only do so much to help so few, but we must all be aware that our fight against HIV is not over.
TANNAY 13-14 September 2014.
I was invited again this year to exhibit in the local hall in Tannay Switzerland along with 30 other artists. Tannay is a small pretty village by the lake. Most of us attending were amateur artists and photographers who want to bring a little of ourselves out of the cupboard to share with others.
I brought along large canvases and maybe too much colour, this led to my display to be a little busy and the paintings were not well displayed. I also believe that landscapes and abstracts work better at these events, never mind. Since June I have been going through a figurative period, I paint for the passion, something I might have to revise if I want to keep raising funds and stay closer to what people want.
The bottom line is that after two long days I was unable to sell any, I did however plug ‘painting for an education’ and all thought it was a noble cause. The best part of the weekend was the other artists. It was a delight to share technics and experiences which such knowledgeable and lovely women. I made good contacts that I will follow up.
My stand was next to a great photographer, Carole Turincev. We had much time to chat about our work and the causes that we support. Carole helps raise funds for an orphanage in Vietnam. When we were dismantling at the end of the exhibition, she slipped me some money for my ‘girls’. I am touched and honoured by the kindness people have shown. Thank you Carole.
On Wednesday I met Maurine from Lean on Me Kenya, who was attending a meeting in Geneva. Those funds flew off to Kisumu that day where they will go directly to fund a young 14 year girl. More on this soon.