The world around me swirls … it pulses with black feelings. I sit across a small table mute and deaf watching the bodiless mouth explaining some stuff… but I absorb nothing in my state of numbness. Normality melts as I walk away. Out of that door behind which all my future, all time, stopped. The time is gone. I held it once in my hand but now it has gone. The tears of shock swirl in unstoppable streams. But as my tears drop, each one holds hope. It takes just one ray of light from someone to shine on just one drop of hope in the darkness and the RAINBOW of HOPE begins...
I cannot escape FROZEN in this space… Faces show my different kinds of energy and emotions. Some cold as ice. The AIDS ribbon shows I am HIV-positive. People are laughing at me and shouting “Go away”. People don’t want to see me. Their words are hurting me, I am CRYING (white dots). I don’t know what’s going on, why people are looking at me. I want to know, “why do you people run from me”. I the artist reach down to pull you up.
Questions…………? It can’t be me! It must be. I’m me! I’m fighting the virus that fills me, forgiving myself yet still at times asking WHY ME? I’m trying to overcome my situation positively. At times I can’t stand up because the virus is like a tight rope around my feet. In my feet the RED RIBBONS are there because. I live in a Positive community. My dream is to be one day helping other people in hospitals to work with people and helping them. I want to be a person with Life. I the artist stand firm and help you rise.
I am 15. I started in 2003. The reason why I stayed is to make myself a better person and go further in the future and help others. A Young Youth Ambassador is someone that participates and is a role model for others. If the Youth Ambassadors take the next step up then we will take their role. And we need to have the skills they have.
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A seed of hope begins to grow inside me. The SUN shines on the CRYSTAL and it forms a RAINBOW. The rainbow represents a new tomorrow. I feel like standing up but there are things that are pulling me back again. The judgments and blame I am facing is holding me back. The NEW SEED I have planted shows I am beginning to look to the future.
Aldridge - I take challenges and I am not afraid to talk to people and I am always honest. If someone asks me about something about HIV I will tell them the right information that I know and if I do not know I will ask. I will search and find out about things I am not sure about.
Joseph - My job is learning things and helping others learn also. If people have misunderstandings I help them look at these and maybe get things a little better. I am a good Young Youth Ambassador because I have respect for others and because I can help other people. MADaboutART keeps kids out of the street, they can come here to play and have fun as well as work.
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I’m learning fast but may still fall, I’m trying to stand up, but I can’t. The MAGNET is trying to pull me up to help me start my future. My HEART is beginning to close up and start to pump and I get more power to help me stand up. My TEARS are falling because I can’t stand up I face my future and life ahead. At first my future looked bleak. I couldn’t see far until my tears fell on the roots of the TREE. It like me started to grow.
I am a Young Youth Ambassador… it means I have the knowledge and I have to pass it on to the younger kids and I have to have the confidence to do what I am doing. I enjoy what I am doing and doing it with care. MADaboutART is about working with young kids and supporting people with HIV. It’s about HIV and AIDS and knowing yourself.
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I have a dream to be healthy, being there for other people, looking forward and seeing everything positive. This dream will come true with Small vision in my mind. The shooting star dropping down and flowing into my body to making it Big and helping me fight for my life with other people around me that are living with the virus. Show us to stand up and think positive. Being together for who we are and who we will be in the future. Feeling that special need to grow That positive mind I can have to go forward in life. You see the PUMP, it fills me with hope. A hope that flows into my body, Streams through my veins. My life has got energy and hope. Panel 5 Panel 7 I face so many difficulties. People are trying to push me down but I will not fail. No matter what you think of me I can get there in the end. Seeing the BALANCE….. full of FLOWERS. First the flowers were dead but now everything lives, changes and grows. The big RAINBOW surrounds me, giving me the protection I need. It is full of energy support from other people. My dream coming true…..Being myself.
I AM HIV-POSITIVE AND THAT’S THAT!! The BOOK in HAND is the book that gave me a SHOCK. A book that started me moving forward and living my life with HIV. I started reading more and more, got used to it every day reading these books about HIV & AIDS. The HIV INFO book told me there are tablets and medicine at the hospital. I started taking my MEDICINE (drawn in my head) now I’m feeling stronger. I’m looking after my body and living great. The EYES at the BACK of me are looking down at me saying I can’t live with HIV & AIDS and gossiping about me, saying bad things about me. The FACES in FRONT of me are the people that are looking after me, helping me to take my medicines and always telling me that I CAN live a long life with this virus, even live a close life with them.
I have learnt a lot of things about HIV and AIDS and I am ready to teach others. Here we learn about things that are happening outside and things that are happening in life and it helps you from not doing crime and not getting bored. It’s also a place where anyone can come at anytime. Everyone is welcome.
Eyes burn into my dark cloud. Some bright, others bring pain. The eyes of the world burn into my back. The gossips bark their biting words… Sticks and stones may break my bones but names CAN also hurt me. Both will surely be a part of my life, but I strive forward, walking on fast, almost running. The MIRROR in front of me shows what remains behind. I catch the SUN and for a short time the EYES are smothered by the power of light. They are aflame and they burn in their own judgments of me. They added to the clouds once and I am sure will again. Panel 7 Panel 9 but today they are under my control. I don’t run from them, I run to a brighter future. Tomorrow I may feel down again or maybe not, but one day soon I will turn and face my judgment makers and make them answer my questions. I have power and I have love. Join me if you care, dismiss me if you don’t but make a choice for YOU.
Help me unlock my future. I didn’t want to hear or see anything about HIV & AIDS. But I hear your screams. I did not want hear. To those who give advice. I did not want to speak. For fear of what you all may say. I did not want to see. What you see…a life without future. The BOOK shows I’m starting to learn, getting knowledge about HIV & AIDS. The PEOPLE helping to fix the KEY, giving me support and love, looking out for me to have a bright future. The LOCK is the future ahead of me and these people helping me unlock my future. RED is the love of people in my community, YELLOW is the bright future ahead of me hear. People are helping me to have a better future and life ahead.
WHY? The QUESTION MARKS are red. Because it hurts. I’m asking my community why they are treating me like this. The SNAKE shows people see me as a dangerous. They are scared to be around me. STOP! Stop and think. Don’t criticise me. The ROAD in my legs shows that every time I walk in the street I ask myself why. WHY? you people don’t want me near them. Why? you cross to the other side. RAINDROPS show the Discriminations and Judgments of people I come across. In my right hand a DEAD CANDLE, at first I believed in myself. WHY? people of MY community did you came along with YOUR judgments and blame and blew the candle of hope out. In my left hand the BURNING CANDLE. I have realised something special in myself. HOW? I can make people realise what HIV is all about.
Reiced - I have been coming to MADaboutART from the start, maybe 2001. When I first came I did it to make the people that asked us to come feel good if I am honest. And then I came because MADaboutART taught us a different skill - from art we put our feelings into drawings and paintings and that was a challenge for me and I had interest in it. From then on I came not to satisfy others but for me and it has opened a lot of doors for me.
Hero Book - Click to view
Linden - A Young Youth Ambassador facilitates sharing information. When you teach someone you tell him or her but when you facilitate it is a different way - your way. I have been here since 2003. My favourite bit has to be the Rainbow of Hope because I learnt a lot of stuff like self confidence and staying focused.
I am who I am. My light burns bright just like yours. At first I couldn’t believe I am HIV-positive, now I do accept. I choose to go on with my life. I’m relieved from all my problems. I can face the world again. I move on with my life. I don’t look back again. The VOLCANO is my anger coming out. I’m more relieved then ever, all the hurt, judgments and blame I was facing is coming out. The volcano explodes to show I’m strong. SMOKE is coming out of my nose, eyes and ears. The smoke is the power inside Me. The power I have to look forward to a new future. The WEIGHT shows I’m relieved. I can stand up for myself. I don’t care what people say, I am what I am. I have the power, I face those who judge and blame me. I’m strong and happy because of love, support and information.
A chance to be normal. I feel bold and strong. I’m starting to take my first steps to reach love and support with a person who will accept ME as I am. I’m relieved from denial that once was not me. I found out I am HIV-positive, then knew i was ME. I decided to go further with ME in my life. To stand up for myself to see what life is all about. To feel what other people feel too. So now in this step where I am, I’m looking for a person who will make me happy. To accept me for who I am and to share. The TORNADO is pushing me forward, full of power. I am very positive. I will find happiness and I will find support. I will live a big LIFE. I am my own future.
We need young people - they are the future of tomorrow and the virus is affecting lots of young people. I enjoy when we make art -things like the Rainbow of Hope because the rainbow helps people with HIV get to know the steps they may follow to go further with their lives. I like the art attacks and ice breakers too.
We long for each other. Why should we be apart? This CLOUD above my head symbolises that I’m still not sure how I’m going to tell my partner about my status. This heavy cloud feeling like rain wants to burst out of its darkness, wanting to get everything that’s inside me out to open until there’s nothing inside me. Pouring negative feelings out of my heart until nothing is left inside me just feelings of love, hope and peace for our future. The RED RIBBONS in my head show I always think about my HIV status and I want my partner to respect and love me for myself and not my status. I hope he will accept me and take away the dark cloud that’s hanging over my head and light my candle of hope. My candle of hope was dead. I waited, waited for him to light my way into a brighter future in partnership. The CANDLE symbolises hope, peace and unity between us. There will always be understanding, the brightness of our future light at the end of a dark tunnel. The candle is not burning because I wait for him to help light my way. Is he is going to light it or turn his back on me? Is he going to accept me or not? The ROPE symbolises strength and power – the power to lift me up in times of hardship when I feel like giving up. The one who will always pull me up when I’m down. The ropes are half in his arm and half in mine because I wait for him to bind our love together. The TORNADO of love and hearts flying came so quickly and swept me off my feet. I was so happy and free and loved without any judgment. It’s so strong and powerful and it keeps me strong. He’s thinking of our love and togetherness and our future. The bright colours represent a brighter future. The VEINS symbolise the unity of our minds. We are both are on the same flow, like blood running through our bodies.The HEARTS are half on each side because he will make me whole.
We grow stronger in love, knowing what might be. Once I felt lost, love and support was nowhere to be found. Everything felt dark like a misery to me. Nothing and no-one even noticed or cared about me. Everything was dead inside me. I felt like a rose about to collapse or gold that is about to loose it’s value. Judgments and blame were all that I that I faced. I thought I lost it all, just wanted to hide, because to me it felt like life wasn’t worth living anymore. As time went on I met the light of my misery. Finally everything became light in my darkness. The candle of hope started to burn inside me. Now I can say, everything was dead and came alive once again I became a better person. Now I believe in myself. I started to rise again. I am what I am and won’t be someone others want me to be. We really find support in each other. Even though I am HIV-positive, he will always be there for me. We give each other a shoulder to lean on. HEARTS show love flowing from each other. He accepts me for who I am and doesn’t push me away for what I have. The ROPE symbolises strength because we both have strength to go on with our lives. The RED RIBBON shows HIV brings us closer together so the rope will never be broken again by anyone or any judgments. Not even HIV will separate us. Is our vision for a big and happy future together? The TREE ROOTS are a sign we are strong and won’t give up easily. The CANDLE represents the hope I have finally started to find. The VEINS show we feel stronger and find motivation in each other we never had before.
Love – a hug, a hand holding mine. RED RIBBONS show support for people with HIV. I will always love her, no matter what her status is. The HEARTS show her that I love her and will do anything for her, no matter what it is. The hearts around us show we will always love each other because HIV has brought us closer together. The PEOPLE are showing they care and will do anything, no matter if I am HIV-positive.
Our role is to be responsible I teach other children so that they can get more information… I have been involved since 2004. Because of the Rainbow of Hope I started to know more about HIV and AIDS and learnt how to paint and how to work as a team. It was quite hard work. My dream is to become a Youth Ambassador.
My baby is beautiful, I feel strong and powerful. I longed for a baby, why should they judge me? I’m sad but looking forward. I have what I need but I still feel sad. I need a baby to love, I need to be wanted. Some-one to be close to, some-one to hold. Some-one to say God gave her to me, she’s mine. The CHAINS represent judgments that people are putting on me. Me for being pregnant and HIV-positive. People within my community judge me for what I have [HIV], Not Me for who I really am. They think because I’m HIV-positive I can’t have a baby, it’s a curse and that I’m selfish for having a baby while knowing my status. My heart is wiggly with love and positivity. I’m good because I feel great and no-one can say anything to me that’s hurtful and suppressive. The TREE growing from my brain shows I’m positive about the future. A future for me and my baby. The chains are getting loose. I’m no longer holding back. I’m free from negative space. My love for my baby has grown stronger and more positive. After everything I have been through during my pregnancy I have become bolder. I have started to accept I’m HIV-positive. The future for my baby has grown more positive. The YELLOW inside my baby indicates that the baby is healthy and the GREY inside my whole body shows how I became positive-minded. My BRAIN is open-minded about my status. I have more knowledge than ever. The HANDS around my body are comforting me . Showing the people who are supporting me. Those who understand what I have been going through, they have stopped judging me for my status.
Happiness. We’re together for life. Our family is strong in its love for each other. The CANDLES symbolise light in our future, our hope and wishes to live longer. The HEART is our love for each other. The RED RIBBONS symbolise living with HIV with as partners, we can still live a happy life and make informed choices and decisions. I’m not going to cry. I’m not going to cry for all these years we were tied up with chains, we could not fight you virus: what ever you are. Somehow, somewhere out there we knew there was hope. We knew that the Lord God would never let us down. We knew that someday He will answer our prayers and that day has come. We are very sorry virus: whatever you are but we found love and happiness by hearing the birds singing, smelling the freshness of the trees. We are very sorry but you cannot control our blood and veins now. We are very happy that the chains are broken. We are very happy now knowing the people. You who pointed fingers at us stopped doing it. Our diamond hearts are pumping so fast just because of happiness. We are proud to be human and not the virus. We are talking about happiness.
My role here is to giggle to show people what a good place this is. I show children what can be learned and what can be changed and do anything I can to protect the community by telling them what I know about HIV and AIDS. I have been coming here since 2002. First I thought this is a place to experience new things in life and one day I could tell my children I was there at a special time and place and that I learned things in life I did not know before. I know how to depend on myself today and I am thinking that MADaboutART is a part of that.
Hero Book - Click to view
We learn. We become involved and HIV, although harsh, can be our teacher. Taking us on our journey. Reaching our destination with love, courage and support. It is our path. Not some distant place or time but a celebration of NOW Seeing our humanity, living our pain, living our love, loving Our spirit, caring our caring, wearing compassion holding all in the palm of our hands. Each of us holds that gift of HOPE that we can choose to shine on others and reflect onto to self. OH if we had not had to take that journey and just accepted and followed the rules… OH Well what is done is done. I WILL be ME and YOU WILL be YOU and together we can MAKE A DIFFERENCE.