On the Edge

Text: Marina Maximova 

A photo exhibition “On the Edge” was opened on the 9th of August in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
 
The heroes of the photographs are former prisoners who have been on the edge, experienced stigma and discrimination, found the strength to break out of the vicious circle and became happy and helpful members of society. Thanks to different organizations which work in the prevention and treatment of HIV infection, tuberculosis, hepatitis. With their help these people participated in social support programs, self-help groups, they made their best to reduce self-stigma.
 
Each photo here has its own story. However, these stories are very similar.
“I did well at school. I wanted to continue my study at the university, but my parents made me to get married. I gave birth to my son and I was engaged in housework. My husband lost his job and began to rebuke me that I was staying at home. We didn’t have money. Due to constant scandals, we got divorced. I wanted to come back to my parents’ house, but they did not accept me. Because of constant stress, I began to drink alcohol, made new friends. Then I committed a crime and went to jail. There I was diagnosed with #HIV infection”. This is a story of Bihalichi.
 
“I was born and raised in an ordinary family. I graduated from 10 classes of high school, went to university as a mechanical engineer. I got new friends and after the third year, I left the institute. There were a lot of quarrels in our family. I started to use drugs and drink alcohol. I could not find a normal job, and I really needed money. I committed a crime and went to jail. After being released, I couldn’t find a job anymore and continued to use drugs. After – prison again and HIV”. This is a story of Sergey.
 
“The photos are designed to show the importance of people’s open-minded attitude towards each other and the positive results of such an attitude – when prisoners, DUIS employees, doctors, NGOs help each other to improve the world around them,” says Roman Dudnik , director of the AFEW Kazakhstan public foundation.
 
A lot of former prisoners dream to break with crimes and to start a new life. But they do not receive any support, people don’t believe in them. Companies don’t hire them and don’t help. As a result, these people return to their usual environment.
 
This photo exhibition is part of a regional photo project. Nowadays similar events are held in Bishkek and Dushanbe. This event is a part of the HIV Project, implemented by the #AFEW #Kazakhstan Public Foundation, with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The photo exhibition “On the Edge” is open until the 19th of Augustat SmArt.Point (Bayzakova St., 280).
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