In this article, we highlight the third finalist for the inaugural Reminders Project Asian Photographers Grant. We take a look at Indonesian-American photographer Andri Tambunan’s project Against All Odds, in which looks at the little known AIDS pandemic in Indonesia’s Papau province.
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Against All Odds
Andri Tambunan, Indonesia-USA
Papua is the largest province in Indonesia and is home to about 1% of Indonesia’s population. However, approximately 40% of all HIV/AIDS cases in Indonesia are located in Papua. Currently, Papua has the highest HIV/AIDS infection rate in the country, 15 times higher than the national average and the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence outside of Africa. Out of the 2.5 million people in Papua, over half are Indigenous Papuans of Melanesian descent and they account for almost 75% of HIV/AIDS cases, doubling the rate of non-ethnic Papuan descent.
Unfortunately, current intervention efforts are insufficient and unsuccessful in helping prevent the spread of HIV among indigenous Papuans and providing relief and care to those already infected.
The plight of indigenous Papuans is under documented in Indonesia and Papua is an area restricted to foreign journalists. As a result, very few articles and images depicting the issue accurately and thoroughly are available.
The aim of Against All Odds is to examine some of the factors responsible for the pandemic level of HIV/AIDS including economic disparity, lack of in HIV/AIDS education and awareness, insufficient service and support, discrimination in healthcare, and stigma. Moreover, I want to accurately illustrate the affects of HIV/AIDS epidemic among indigenous Papuans. Ultimately, I seek to be a catalyst that raises an awareness of numerous flaws within the status quo and stresses a call for immediate actions to remedy the dire situation. In the end, I want to promote the development of improved methods in preventing the spread of HIV and provide essential aid for indigenous Papuans living with AIDS.
Words from our Jury Panel:
“This story was one of my favourites. I found it compelling, well researched and genuinely news breaking. Most stories on AIDS today are from Africa and usually focus on the victim/s and a fight for recovery. This takes a different and harsher look, and is much broader in scope. It starts with an establishing shot of the mountains of Papua then moves into the very poor communities and onto the hopeless final stage of aids victims. The story takes us further to NGO’s work, into brothels and even sites of cheap urban prostitution. It is compelling because there is a real sense of risk taking and commitment to get this story. Greenpeace will want to meet up with Andri for future assignments.” – John Novis, Head of Photography, Greenpeace International
“Andri’s photos tell a powerful and important story, showing how often people living on the fringe of society are forgotten. His work shows how pervasive the lack of knowledge is, and the people’s fear towards the disease and having to cope with it.” – Dirk Claus, Photoeditor Asia, Stern Magazine
Born in Jakarta, Indonesia (b. 1981), I moved to the United States at age 10. I picked up my first camera in high school and continued to study photography with an emphasis in Fine Art at Sacramento State University. In 2008, after years of working in the corporate world and not pursuing his passion, I quit my job and decided to travel the world. However, I found myself in the middle of Nov. 26 terrorist attack in Mumbai, India. My first instinct was to grab my cameras and document the series of events that followed. I returned to the States in 2009, sold most of my possessions, and started pursuing photography concentrating on social documentary issues around the world. I believe photography is a catalyst for positive social change.
Invisible Photographer Asia (IPA) is the official media partner of the Reminders Project Asian Photographers Grant.
The winner of the grant will be announced in November during the 7th Angkor Photo Festival, held from November 19-26, 2011, in Siem Reap, Cambodia. During the festival, there will also be a special showcase of the finalists’ projects.