The Life We've Passed Through (Uganda)

Sam Sebabi is trying to restore his family to its former dignity, after AIDS has taken thirty-five of his brothers, sisters, and half-siblings. Once a great clan of community leaders and chiefs in Uganda, now an entire generation of this family has been wiped out, leaving hundreds of orphans to the care of the few remaining aunties and grandparents. The nightmare is compounded with similar deaths in the family of his wife, Ruth, and by the fact that AIDS continues to take lives in both families every year.  With the generosity of their church community, the Sebabi orphans have been given tools to avoid a cycle of dependency and to rebuild and restore their family structures. Yet the wounds are still deep, and the grieving process has only begun for these children.  

The photographs in this project are icons of remembrance and mourning for the Sebabi family. While there is indeed great hope for the future, this project is a look at the struggle of their present circumstances, and a tribute to the care that has been given by dedicated, yet fragile, elderly relatives.  The children specifically asked me to take their portraits in the family graveyard, located behind a home where over thirty of them live. “We want these pictures because we enjoy being here. This is not a place of fear; it is a happy place for us. It is our chance to be with our parents.”

The Life We've Passed Through is a work-in-progress documentary project, in collaboration with Nathan Huesmann and Louie Huesmann.