Poignant portrait wins Church Mission Society photo competition

Head and shoulders of young black woman seen from behind lit by light coming through curtains

The winner of the Church Mission Society This is Mission photo competition:
Mission is…Breaking the Silence by Rebekka Stredwick

A poignant picture of a young mother in South Africa struggling to come to terms with the stigma of living with HIV has been announced as the winning entry of Church Mission Society’s first ever photo competition.

Titled ‘Breaking the Silence’, the photograph was taken by Rebekka Stredwick and frames a young woman hiding behind a curtain, stigmatised and ostracised as a result of her diagnosis but liberated by the chance to tell her story to Rebekka and the team at Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust.

Competition winner: Rebekka Stredwick

The This is Mission photo competition was launched as part of CMS’s two-year Mission Is campaign. The aim was to help people see the breadth and depth of God’s mission around the world, and to challenge them to get involved.

Contestants were asked to caption their entries with a short narrative. The winning entry told the moving story of Nphiwe (name changed):

Hiding behind the curtain, Nphiwe conceals her suffering through a veil of silence. “There is a stigma when you collect the tablets from the clinics,” the young mother whispers. “If people see you picking up your treatment they talk. They say, “Watch that lady – she might give you HIV!” This makes me feel bad.”

Stredwick says that through telling her story, Nphiwe got the chance to ‘cough out’ her troubles and raise awareness globally about HIV stigma.

Commenting on Stredwick’s winning photo, one judge said: “Apart from the beauty of the photo, the breaking down of stigma and prejudice is a key reason why mission deserves all our efforts and attention.”

CMS received more than 50 creative entries to the competition, ranging from “Mission is…ethical fashion” to “Mission is…ice cream” to “Mission is…messy”. Some entries can be glimpsed on instagram.com/mission_is  

Naomi Steinberg, Head of Communications at CMS, said: “I love Rebekka’s photo because it is respectful of the woman featured, which is so important, especially in charity imagery.

“Our first-ever photo competition has been really enjoyable. It’s been great seeing people’s unique views of God’s mission. Even though the competition is officially over, we hope people will continue to share their perspectives on the @mission_is instagram page, which they can do by using #mission_is. The more people see the many and varied ways God is at work in our world, the better.”

As well as accolades, Rebekka will receive £220, to commemorate the 220 years since Church Mission Society was founded, thanks to a generous arts enthusiast donor.

This is Mission Instagram page: @mission_is        

Published 15 November 2019
Region
Africa

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