July 11, 2013

Book & Multimedia for Against All Odds: The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Papua

Recently I self-published a book and produced a multimedia piece for my long-term project, Against All Odds: The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Papua

I will be distributing them as a packet for FREE to NGOs that have interests and concerns, or are involved with the HIV/AIDS preventive and support programs in Indonesia.  During my research, I discovered that the Indonesian government receive millions of dollars in foreign aid from organizations such as USAID, WHO, AUSAID, etc for HIV/AIDS but very little of that money reach Papua or utilize effectively. 

The ultimate objective is to promote immediate action in providing necessary aid for Indigenous Papuans facing/living with HIV/AIDS.  My target audience is not just the general public and the mainstream media but those in positions to foster change.  I hope both the book and multimedia will raise awareness of this epidemic and its impact on the Indigenous Papuans, and eventually help in providing better access to care for them.

These are the links to view the book and multimedia online.  Please feel free to share the links. Also, please let me know if you know of any organizations that would be interested in receiving a physical copy.

Book: The foreword is written by Dr. Leslie Butt, one of the leading experts on HIV/AIDS in Papua. The book includes over 80 color photographs and my findings from months of working on the field. 

Multimedia: The multimedia is 11 minute long, which includes still, video, and audio interviews. 

-Andri Tambunan

Photos, Videos, Texts: Andri Tambunan
Book Design: Januar Rianto & Andri Tambunan
Book Foreword: Dr. Leslie Butt University of Victoria, Canada
Multimedia Producers: Samuel He, Desmond Lim, & Andri Tambunan
Multimedia Editors: Samuel He & Juliana Tan
Multimedia Music: Big Bang & Fuzz Production

April 19, 2013

Polluting Paradise.

Recently I shot a campaign for Greenpeace focusing on the Citarum River, one of the most polluted rivers in the world due toxic wastes illegally dumped by textile factories. Many of them are direct distributor to popular international brands such as GAP.

These industrial wastes contaminated the water supply used everyday by local residents. Most of them had no choice but to buy water for drinking and cooking despite their economic limitation, However, they still use the contaminated water for washing clothes and shower. As a result, many of them suffer skin irritation including children.

I also met a fisherman who could no longer fish due to their decline in number, a farmer that must sell his rice for half the price because the contaminated water stunted the growth of his crops, a brave activist who gets threatened constantly for speaking out, a husband and wife river-crosser for over 30 years that wants nothing but their river back.

For all my friends, families, and colleagues in Jakarta, please be aware that 80% of our drinking water supply comes from the Citarum River.

You could see the photos here:


To get more information please visit the links below




November 18, 2012

Against All Odds Exhibition at Angkor Photo Festival in Siem Reap Dec. 1-9

Cordially inviting all of you to the Exhibition of Against All Odds at Angkor Photo Festival in Siem Reap.  Exhibit opens Dec. 4 6pm at the 1961 Gallery.

For more information: please visit Angkor Photo Festival , Reminders Project Asian Photographers Grant and the 1961

November 19, 2011

The Pursuit of Truth

We are surrounded with "Truths." Mine is different than yours, but no better, both a distorted version of reality.  Or is it a sliver of gray line between dark and light? A moment of epiphany in a midst of chaos and confusion? A point where the mind, the heart, and the spirit meets?  But is it Truth even if others tell you it's false? Truth is powerful, fleeting, fragile, misleading and easily corrupted, and a useful pawn in the battle of good and evil. Our only chance is pursue it relentlessly to see a glimpse of Truth.  And the picture might get a little clearer through a simple action of taking a small step back.

These photographs were taken in Bangkok during some of the worst flooding in over 6 decades.  The city is now a booming metropolis.  I got on the skytrain to explore the city. Through the window plastered with advertisement, I examine the city as the train snake through different parts of the city.  Most of central Bangkok was dry while most of its northern part was up to 3-4 meters under water.   

Special Thanks to Patrick Brown for his guidance during this exercise.

September 16, 2011

My interview with Miki Johnson posted on Emphas.is Blog

My interview with Miki Johnson discussing my documentary project on HIV/AIDS in Papua currently on Emphas.is and was recently chosen as a Finalist to Reminders Project Asian Photographers Grant.

"I believe all people, including people living with HIV/AIDS, have a basic human right to the highest attainable standard of health, regardless of gender, race and cultural background."

To read more please click here

September 13, 2011

The Art of Grant Writing and Putting Ideas & Conviction on Paper

Recently I was selected as a Finalist to POYi Emerging Vision Incentive and Reminders Project Asian Photographers Grant on my project Against All Odds documenting HIV/AIDS epidemic in Papua.  I am truly honored to receive this recognition.  However, to be honest this wouldn't have been possible if I didn't force myself to re-learn the process of writing and putting down my thoughts effectively and coherently on paper. 

I admit I've been so focused with improving my photography skills that I've neglected my writing. As a result, this was a challenging task and I struggled from the start until the very end. It took me almost 6 hours to write the first page and countless drafts to complete my proposal. 

The art of writing is truly a craft that a photographer must possess. Some practical reasons are to apply to grants, fellowships, provide background story to projects, etc. But having the ability to put down ideas and reasoning on paper to explain our intentions is an inward process that solidifies our conviction and focus and the end product serves as a measurement of accountability and achievement.

Using the good old internet, I found proposals written by various grant winners.  I dissected their techniques and argument in explaining their project, on how they present their ideas, identify their goals, and illustrate the importance of their aim and their conviction.

I came up with this rough outline that I used as a guide to write my proposal.  I had numerous drafts which I emailed to several people to look over and help edit for spelling and grammar.  And even now I am still not 100 percent happy with the final product and I keep making additional improvements until I know that it's done.

*note I am now using this guide before starting any project

Artist statement/proposal:
-Identify the problem or issue
-What is the purpose of the project? What are you attempting to accomplish?
- Who are involved directly and indirectly? Individuals? Organizations? Government? People in power?
-What are the causes
-What are the consequences
-Why does it matter
-What have been done in the past to remedy the problem and explain its shorcomings.

-What are your intentions?
-What is your approach?
-What are your specific plans to carry out your goals?
-How will you utilize them? Using what tools or resources and who will be involved
-Explain why you chose to take those steps?
-If you’ve already taken previous actions, what else are you planning to do further?
-What will your images convey?

-What are your previous relevant accomplishments?
-How are you qualified to undertake this project? Why you?
-Provide resources, contacts, and access you’ve gained to complete it.
-Provide Logistics, such as where the project will be conducted and approximate timeline. 

-Explain why you need this grant
-Explain why you choose to do this project and its significance

September 12, 2011

I am a Finalist to Reminders Project Asian Photographers Grant

I am very honored that my project Against All Odds was chosen as a finalist to the Reminder's Project Asian Photographers Grant.  My project along with other finalists including Agnes Dherbeys, GMB Akash, Shiho Fukada, and Zishaan Akbar Latif will be showcased at Ankor Photo Festival which is held on November 19-26 2011 in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  The winner of the grant will be announced during the festival, and will receive financial support of US$3,000 for his/her winning project.

On a side note, I still have 23 days left to reach my crowdfunding goal on Emphas.is.  Please help me reach it by sharing this link to everyone or get involved directly by becoming a backer to the project.  I appreciate any help.  Sincere thanks.


August 18, 2011

My first visit to Papua.

I started working on this project in 2009 after reading a short article on irinnews.org that caught my attention. The headline stated, “I would say 75 percent of Papuans don’t believe there is HIV.”  The article focused on Juliana Yarisetou, a housewife who contracted HIV from her husband.  She was told to go home and rest by a doctor when she came to the hospital for treatment.  At one point she weighed 22kg (48.5lbs). Her husband and youngest child died from AIDS and her community discriminated against her after discovering her illness.
I scoured the Internet to find more information on the spread of HIV/AIDS and its effects in Papua but discovered very little facts and images.  I emailed the reporter who wrote the article and he referred me to NGO Family Health International (FHI) in Jayapura, the capital of Papua.  A week later I met Juliana in person.  As it turns out, she became an AIDS advocacy officer for FHI and with their help she was able to gain back her health and has been open about her status.  She is one of the lucky ones.

Juliana Yarisetou works as an AIDS advocacy officer for the international NGO Family Health International in Jayapura. She contracted HIV from her husband in 2004. She is open with her status and often gives her testimony on living with HIV.
The body of a patient with AIDS covered with boils at a local hospital in Jayapura, capital of Papua. According to the doctor, he is in the advanced level of the disease though it's his first time at the hospital.  Awareness of HIV/AIDS within indigenous Papuans population is very low.

Due to economic disparity indigenous Papuans are most vulnerable to poverty, malnutrition, unemployment, and illiteracy.  However in Papua, only HIV/AIDS is perceived as equal to death.  Education and awareness of HIV/AIDS is very low among indigenous Papuans.  Limited accessibility to basic services and inadequate aids had made it difficult for them to get tested for HIV or receive proper counseling and support.  Only 31% of indigenous Papuans know where to get an HIV test and most clinics are located too far from those living in rural areas.  Also, availability of Anti-Retroviral drugs (ARV) is erratic and no medicine on hand for opportunistic infection such as Tuberculosis (TB) or dietary supplements to help maintain health.

The mountainous terrain of Papua is seen from above the clouds.  Papua is the largest province in Indonesia and it's home to approximately 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.

Market scene in Wamena, a developing town in the highlands of Papua.  Over 40% of people in Papua live on less than $1 per day most of which are indigenous Papuans.  Furthermore, Papua has the highest incidence of poverty that doubles the national average.

In Jayapura, I was introduced to a local NGO Yayasan Harapan Ibu (YHI) or Mother’s Hope Foundation.  They have about a dozen staffs mostly of Indigenous Papuans and very successful in educating their community on HIV/AIDS prevention through the use of condoms.  In Papua, less than 30% could identify a condom and only 8% have used it.  The use of condom is also perceived as a lack of trust and they are not widely available in rural areas.  Condom use is a key factor in prevention because HIV is transmitted through sexual intercourse in almost every case.

Yayasan Harapan Ibu (Mother's Hope), a local NGO, demonstrates the use of condom at public places to help prevent the spread of HIV virus.   Many men never seen or used a condom before and those who use condoms almost never do so consistently.  Obtaining condoms outside of urban area is also difficult.

Michael (17) turns his face away while getting tested for HIV for the first time at a local clinic in Jayapura.  There is a high probability that he has contracted the virus since his girlfriend is HIV positive and they don't use condom. 

A woman with AIDS gives her testimony in front of a support group.  Many people living with AIDS have to keep it a secret for fear of embarrassment or retribution from the community.

In Papua poverty has triggered and enforced the exchange of sex for goods, cash, or food in urban and developing areas as an accepted norm in both legitimate venues such as brothels and outside of “formal” settings.  YHI introduced me to Mama Fin, a social worker who opened up her home to young Papuan street prostitutes, most of them just teenagers already infected with HIV.  When I asked them about their future and what they wanted out of life, many wanted to go back to school and have a good job but they all wanted to be happy.  Papuan prostitutes are at the lower end of the industry.  They seek clients in public events, not in brothels. They have sex outside, by the side of the road, empty hut, urban dwellings, etc. They are more likely to find themselves at the bottom in terms of income earning a couple of dollars.  Also, they face the highest risk of personal safety and violence. Street worker intervention program geared towards Papuans has a condom use rate of less than 5% compared to 70% to its non-ethnic Papuans counterpart.

Street prostitutes, Betrix (25) and Natalia (16), both HIV positive shares a cigarette as they wait for potential clients in the capitol of Papua, Jayapura.  Teenage girls such as them sell their body for $2 per client.  They are poor and uneducated and prostitution is the only means to earn money to survive. 
An empty bottle of liquor and used cardboard. Indigenous Papuan sex workers are at the lower end of the industry.

I followed YHI for about a week as they go to markets passing out pamphlets, condoms, and demonstrating its usage to anyone willing to listen.  I also discovered that YHI is more successful because indigenous Papuans prefer treatment from indigenous staff rather non-ethnic Papuans who possess little knowledge of Papuan culture and values perpetuating miscommunication and mistrust and biased or inefficient delivery methods of service.  Many indigenous Papuans feared that the non-ethnic staffs could not be trusted in keeping their illness discreet.
Almost 90% of those who test positive with HIV in Papua flee without seeking care.  Fear of abuse, persecution and ostracism from community and family members have made secrecy the primary concern rather than treatment. There had been rumors that I heard while I was there that a child was buried alive by his own parents after they discovered the illness.  The same stigma also dictates social withdrawal and isolation are social sanctioned as common responses to dealing with HIV/AIDS.  In the end, deep-rooted stigmas sustain a lower quality life without respect or dignity that disenfranchised the well-being of indigenous Papuans living with HIV/AIDS.
A woman with AIDS living under a bridge in the city of Jayapura.  A social worker had been encouraging her to go to the hospital to get treatment but she refused.  90% of those who test positive for HIV flee without seeking care.  Social withdrawal is a sanctioned cultural response to a serious illness that is seen to be contagious.
Rejected by his family because he has AIDS, Daud (23) finds refuge at a local hospice in Jayapura.

Fastforward to 2011 and the situation has gotten worst as the most recent census shows the number of people with HIV/AIDS in Papua has jumped by more than 30 percent. I plan to go back to Papua this October 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.

I aim to  accurately illustrate the affects of HIV/AIDS 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.

Children playing jump rope during after Sunday school.

Thank to all of you who had supported this project.  I encourage to get involved and please help spread the word by sharing it on Facebook, twitter, tumblr, and other social media sites as well as to anyone who might be interested in getting participating.  I am contacting numerous NGO's and health organizations for possible sponsorships as well.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
This is the direct link to my crowdfunding campaign on Emphas.is http://emphas.is/web/guest/discoverprojects?projectID=322



August 17, 2011

My HIV/AIDS project showcased on Feature Shoot

Feature Shoot is one of my favorite photography websites.  I go to it for inspirations and I am very excited to have them showcased my HIV/AIDS project.

Check out Feature Shoot for unique visions and great photography.