“Through Our Eyes” in Sudan

In August 2007, “Through Our Eyes” activities were initiated in Yei, southern Sudan. Yei, one of ARC’s central sites in the region, has seen a vast influx of returnees since the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) designed to bring an end to more than two decades of conflict between north and south.

“Through Our Eyes” activities in southern Sudan focus on providing vital information on HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment, and on raising awareness about gender-based violence and its consequences. A related aim is to build awareness of links between attitudes and practices that contribute to women’s disempowerment, gender violence and heightened risk of HIV/AIDS infection.

The organization Widows, Orphans, and People Living with HIV/AIDS (WOPHA) is the local partner group for project activities. WOPHA members have taken part in community video training workshops along with ARC field staff, and have been involved in planning and filming many productions. Several WOPHA members—especially women who have survived AIDS-related stigma and discrimination, and who now work as peer educators and counselors—have embraced community video as a powerful medium for sharing their stories and sensitizing others. They have helped create videos on such issues as voluntary counseling and testing, care of family members with HIV, widow inheritance, and the needs of orphans.

Speaking out against stigma

Rose Sadia is a peer educator and counselor with the organization Widows, Orphans, and People Living with HIV/AIDS (WOPHA), the local partner for the “Through Our Eyes” project in southern Sudan. She has also been an energetic participant in community video activities.

Rose has taken part in three of the productions created by the “Through Our Eyes” team. In one, she appears as a woman who visits a voluntary counseling and testing center, learns of her HIV positive status, and gains information on how to take care of herself and her child. In a documentary on WOPHA’s activities, she helps others learn about the organization’s various programs in support of people living with HIV/AIDS as well as survivors of gender violence. In the video “Stigma and Discrimination,” she helps dispel misunderstandings about modes of transmission, and offers encouragement to those living with HIV/AIDS: “For us, we have known our HIV status, and now we are healthy and going ahead with life.”

Rose welcomes the opportunity to speak out to everyone she can about the needs of people who are living with HIV/AIDS. She sees the community video project as a great way to reach out, and is eager to take part in future production.

“Through Our Eyes” project activities in southern Sudan received support over the course of 2008 from the social development funding agency Art Venture. Subsequent funding has been provided by the Women in Development Office of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID/WID).