The Gambia: Portraits of survivors of Yahya Jammeh’s HIV/AIDS ‘cure’ treatment ©Jason Florio

Fatou Jatta survivour of President Yahya Jammeh's HIV/AIDS 'cure' program - portrait ©Jason Florio #Portraits4PositiveChange, The Gambia
Fatou Jatta – survivor of Yahya Jammeh’s HIV/AIDS ‘cure’ program, The Gambia – portrait ©Jason Florio #Portraits4PositiveChange

“From the time I started the concoction, I got weaker and weaker, my condition got worse. After July, I went to the MRC – which had been my treatment centre – and tested. My CD4 count had dropped to 80 – a threat to me, anything can happen” Fatou Jatta, survivor Jammeh’s HIV/AIDS ‘cure’ program and Member of the Santa Yalla Support Society

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters

In 2007, then President of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, announced that he could cure HIV/AIDS with his secret herbal concoction. Jammeh ‘invited’ (under his harsh dictatorship, many survivors say that they were coerced) Gambians living with HIV and AIDS into his Presidential Alternative Treatment Programme. He also ordered them to stop taking antiretroviral drugs, which in some cases proved fatal – as in the case of Lamin Moko Ceesay’s (pictured below) wife who died as a result of stopping her antiretroviral drugs on the orders of Jammeh, when she took part in his treatment program.

Also, without the consent of the patients, Jammeh’s administration of his herbal ‘cure’ was often televised to the nation.

Lamin Ceesay - took part in Yahya Jammeh AIDS/HIV herbal 'cure' trials, the Gambia - portrait ©Jason Florio
Lamin Moko Ceesay – took part in Yahya Jammeh AIDS/HIV herbal ‘cure’ trials, the Gambia – portrait ©Jason Florio #Portraits4PositiveChange, The Gambia

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2019: AIDSFREEWOLD: The survivors filed complaints with The Gambia Medical and Dental Council against Dr. Tamsir Mbowe and Dr. Malick Njie, both of whom served at different points as Jammeh’s Minister of Health. Fatou Jatta, Ousman Sowe, and Lamin “Moko” Ceesay signed the complaint against Dr. Mbowe; Fatou Jatta filed the complaint against Dr. Njie. (Read the letters here.) The survivors are supported in their actions by AIDS-Free World, the Gambia-based Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA), and Combeh Gaye of the Gambian law firm Antouman A.B. Gaye & Co.

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters

Ousman Sowe, survivour of President Yahya Jammeh's HIV/AIDS 'cure' program - portrait ©Jason Florio #Portraits4PositiveChange, The Gambia
‘Musa’, survivor of President Yahya Jammeh’s HIV/AIDS ‘cure’ program –
portrait ©Jason Florio #Portraits4PositiveChange, The Gambia

#Portraits4PositiveChange

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’ is a multi-media work-in-progress series – portraits and filmed testimonies by Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio. To date, the portraits have been exhibited at The Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations, and at the British High Commissioners Residence, Banjul, and at the Truth, Reconciliation, Reparations Commission (TRRC). See a selection of the portraits on Jason Florio’s website floriophoto.com

Portraits for Positive Change - at the TRRC Gambia ©Jason Florio
‘Portraits for Positive Change’ at the TRRC – donated by the British High Commission, The Gambia ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

#Portraits4PositiveChange

Jason Florio making #Portraits4PositiveChange, the Gambia ©Helen Jones-Florio.
Jason Florio making #Portraits4PositiveChange, the Gambia ©Helen Jones-Florio.

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Interviewing sole survivor of a massacre, Ghanaian, Martin Kyere ©Jason Florio

Interviewing Martin Kyere, Ghana, Image © Jason Florio

Interviewing sole survivor of a massacre, Ghanaian, Martin Kyere. Martin was one of a group of over 50 West African migrants, who were endeavouring to reach Europe when the boat they boarded in Senegal veered off course and landed in The Gambia.

#Portraits4PositiveChange

According to recent witness testimonies by members of President Yahya Jammeh’s hit squad, ‘the Junglers’, at the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) in The Gambia, they revealed that the mass execution was ordered by Jammeh himself after the migrants were accused of being mercenaries trying to overthrow the government. 

Gambia – victims, and resisters’

The portrait of Martin was taken as part of an on-going series: ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’ – whilst filming a documentary for an NGO in Ghana.

Photographer, Jason Florio, making #Portraits4PositiveChange, the Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio
Photographer, Jason Florio, making #Portraits4PositiveChange, the Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

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Documentary film making in Ghana, West Africa. Image ©Jason Florio

Instagram: James Town beach and fishing boats. Image ©Jason Florio

Documentary film making in Ghana, West Africa (more news on that soon…). After wrapping filming today we watched as local fishermen gather their nets at the end of a days fishing, James Town beach, Accra.

Related Posts: ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’ / #Portraits4PositiveChange

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‘A Blossom Pink World’ wins judges vote at Trans Pride Brighton, 2019

‘A Blossom Pink World’ short film by Jason Florio & Zane Dedlow

This was amazing news to wake up to on Saturday morning! We won the judges prize for the best non-fiction film – ‘A Blossom Pink World’ was screened on Friday 19th July 2019 at Trans Pride Brighton / My Genderation

A short film made by Jason Florio and Zane Dedlow for the NGO, Frontline AIDS

Activists share their experiences, hopes and aspirations as they challenge the legal framework that has led to transgender people not accessing the health services that they are entitled to, and need.

‘A Blossom Pink World’ short film by Jason Florio & Zane Dedlow


‘A Blossom Pink World’

Guyana Trans United’s ground-breaking campaign to repeal British colonial ‘Buggery Laws’ has found support from high-profile government officials. They share their experiences, hopes and aspirations as they challenge the legal framework that has led to Trans people not accessing the health services that they are entitled to, and need. Guyana Trans United received a grant from the Rapid Response Fund, which is managed by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance and funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation. FrontlineAids/Youtube

Still image from ‘A Blossom Pink World’ ©Jason Florio

Huge thank you, Trans Pride Brighton, My Genderation and FrontlineAids, and – most importantly – everyone at Guyana Trans United for sharing their world with us. And, last but not least, thanks to Helen Jones-Florio, for hours of transcribing the interviews! JF

Zane Dedlow & Jason Florio filming another short for FrontlineAids ‘A Prince in Cape Town

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