We have already told our readers about the documentary photographer, The Day’s Photo Contest winner Maksym Dondiuk (see No. 20, March 29, 2012) who created the project “TB Epidemic in Ukraine” to draw attention to this national disaster.
Recently Dondiuk won the first prize at the international contest Healthy World Photo Competition. As a reminder, during the year his photo stories won a number of prestigious international photo contests: Picture of the Year International (POYi), Photo Evidence Book Award 2012, Picture Story of the Year of the Photographers Giving Back Contest.
The Day asked Maksym DONDIUK to share what it meant to become a winner of such photo contests for a documentary photographer and if it helped the project.
“My main task is to draw the attention of Ukrainian and international communities to the issue. It would be perfect if I received responses from any international organizations that would help fight tuberculosis. All these contests are advertised well, they are discussed by media, and every victory lets one more country know about Ukrainian problem. For example, when information about the TB Epidemic in Ukraine project appeared on the CNN website, I received a lot of e-mails from common people. As I have said, a photographer cannot change anything by himself. He cannot cure the sick ones, he cannot collect money, he can just create a photo project and show it. And the more people see the photos, the wider the response will be.”
It is known that the winners’ photos will be shown all around the world. And how did Ukraine react after the exhibit was displayed in Donetsk and after the month of combating tuberculosis in Crimea?
“Nobody offered any help. The social level in our country is so low, that the ordinary people who see these pictures have problems in their lives that need solving too, they simply cannot do both. In fact, I often receive letters of gratitude. And once I was at Shuster Live show, where a lot of members of parliament were present. They lead active discussions during the show. But after it was over, not a single one of them came up to me to offer any help or just talk.”
The exhibit that was shown in Donetsk, now moves to Dnipropetrovsk. The grand opening is going to take place on June 26, and the exhibit will be open for a month. After that, the exhibit will be displayed in other Ukrainian cities for free. And there is a bit of sarcasm that Ukraine “won” the competition the winners of which usually portray countries with low healthcare level, countries where cholera thrives, countries with high maternal death rate. The jury of the Healthy World Photo Competition also praised the work by photographer Brent Stirton, who covered the problem of HIV-positive Ukrainians. So, we left all the African countries behind, and this is the clear evidence of how rotten our healthcare system is.