Karen Ande (photography) and Ruthann Richter (text), with a foreword by Peter Piot, Face to Face; Children of the AIDS Crisis in Africa (Pasadena: Hope Publishing House, 2010), 122pp.
"A single death is a tragedy," said Stalin, "a million deaths is a statistic." In this powerful combination of stories and photos, Karen Ande and Ruthann Richter (roommates at Stanford while in graduate school) move us beyond the staggering statistics of the AIDS crisis to a felt awareness of the human toll. In particular, they focus on the plight of children in sub-Saharan Africa, where by 2010 it's estimated that about 20 million children had lost at least one parent to the epidemic. In many ways, and despite all the advances in medicine, science, and politics, children remain the forgotten victims of the AIDS crisis. Whereas the first international AIDS conference was held in 1985 in Atlanta, it was not until the 2008 annual conference in Mexico City that a plenary session was devoted exclusively to children's issues.
In addition to the stories and photos of the children, the book highlights a dozen or so activists who have cared for these children. They remind us of how small is beautiful and of how even a single person can make a big difference. There's Monica Ngumi of the Mama Darlene's Children Centre for sixty orphans. Jill Simpson, a 78-year-old retired nurse, founded a home for fifty kids called Saidia. Father Daniel Kiriti is a parish priest in Naivasha, Kenya, who remarks, "a week without a funeral is a good week." And in a particularly moving section of the book, the authors highlight the many "grannies" whose adult children have died and who must care for their grand children, like 91-year-old Paullina, who lost all twelve of her own children and is the sole caregiver of sixteen grandchildren. Statistics can overwhelm us; these stories and pictures remind us of the human beings behind the numbers who need our help. A page at the end of the book lists eleven organizations that were featured in the book.