Warehouse 242, a west Charlotte church on Wilkinson Boulevard, will open a photo gallery this month depicting the beauty and despair that is southern Africa.

In November, the congregation sent four of its members on a scouting mission to South Africa and Botswana. The goal was to identify opportunities to create locally owned, income-generating small businesses in communities beset by the HIV/Aids epidemic.

Stevan Talevski, a small-business lending executive at Bank of America, said he took more than 200 images during the trip. Fifty to 60 of his photos will go on sale when the gallery opens May 29.

Talevski, who described himself as a photographer who works for a bank, said he was struck by the beauty he found in southern Africa, even amid the suffering of HIV/Aids: the young boys who laughed with delight as they played a disorganized game of rugby, the cheerful women who sewed children’s clothing in a factory.

“There was this one woman whose smile was so intoxicating you were just drawn to her,” he said. “And they were HIV positive… Yet they still find ways to laugh and make the most of what they have, and I think that is the beauty of the situation.”

Jennifer Wallin, a spokeswoman for the church who also made the trip, said proceeds from the gallery sale will be used to help build income-generating activities, or IGAs, in either Zimbabwe or Malawi.

Instead of simply giving handouts, she said, the church believes in creating economic models in Africa that produce income and are self-sustaining. Ideas include starting a small farm to grow corn or goats or starting a small enterprise to sew school uniforms or make peanut butter.

“Our goal is to really love people and meet them where they are and make a difference,” she said. “What we love about an IGA is that you are imparting to people the ability to start a business and start a new life to themselves. I’m excited about being able to make an impact there.”

What: The Making AIDS Work: Stories of Beauty and Affliction gallery sale
Where: 2307 Wilkinson Blvd., Charlotte
Date: May 29
Time: 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.

For more information, visit www.warehouse 242.org.

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