Back in 2005 I got one of my most challenging assignments so far. Image, one of the top magazines in Finland, wanted to send me to Namibia to photograph and write a story.
I joined a press trip organized by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland. The magazine let me choose the theme for my feature. After some research I decided that I wanted to tell about HIV/AIDS epidemic. It was a huge issue: roughly 20% of Namibia's population was HIV-positive, a figure so high that it reflected on the country's economy.
I made a portrait series of people who were affected by HIV/AIDS epidemic one way or another. A culture of stigmatizing prevailed, so the most difficult part was to find someone who was publicly HIV-positive. With help from Finnish Consulate and Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission I found a lady who had courage to show her face and say "I'm HIV-positive".
During the week-long trip I visited slums and even interviewed a witch doctor, but the most unforgettable experience happened in a remote hospital. I had waited for the whole morning for an HIV-positive mother to bring her 1-year-old baby for tests. Finally, the doctor asked me to enter his room where mother and baby were already waiting to hear the results.
The baby was not infected.