They are the hidden victims of the AIDS epidemic. Tens of thousands of children are either infected or affected by this disease … scattered in pockets of poverty across a vast region of some 30 different island cultures.
Even the best numbers are a guess because children don’t stand up to be counted. They depend on parents to care for them, but too often the parents are sick or dying.
The Sun-Sentinel took readers deep into AIDS orphans’ world, in ways available only online. An interactive 360-degree view inside a Haitian orphanage let readers see and hear the children’s struggle to survive. A scrolling, interactive gallery of images introduced the children, giving readers a short audio biography of each child. The gallery was mirrored as a design element in the print coverage, providing a unifying feature each week.
Managing Editor Sharon Rosenhause said the online coverage “added a dimension to a face and voice given to the thousands of otherwise invisible children whose stories must be told.”
The luckiest children end up in homes like Rainbow House, the first orphanage for children whose parents died of AIDS in Haiti. Others grow into lives as household slaves, known as restaveks. They are routinely denied schooling, physician care and family support because of the stigma and myths that still surround AIDS.
A team of journalists and artists collaborated on “AIDS Orphans”: Joe Amon and Mike Stocker, photography and video; Tim Collie, scripting; and R. Scott Horner and Chris Kirkman, production.
“‘AIDS Orphans’ provided an in-depth look at the AIDS orphan crisis on Hispaniola and the Caribbean, which is usually overshadowed by the enormity of the crisis in Africa,” Collie said. “These are not subjects that are routinely discussed in South Florida journalism.”
The story can be found at www.sun-sentinel2.com/graphics/AIDSOrphans.