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the RED badges of courage

Carol Allen Storey | Tanzania, United Republic of

Amina had been forced to wear a RED badge sewn on her school uniform veil since she started school age 5 identifying her as AIDS/HIV positive. Jealously she gazes out a barred classroom window watching her schoolmates play. Amina is excluded from participating due to her HIV positive status. The school fears she would exacerbate her condition with excessive physical exercise and they do not want to be responsible nor do they have medical supplies to treat her if she fell ill. This exclusion saddens Amina deeply. She is 13 years old, a recent AIDS orphan who lives with her aging grandmother. Amina has been on the life saving anti-retroviral drugs for years and is despondent that she rarely feels well and suffers from an acute skin disorder which defies treatment. Mostly she hates wearing the red badge as it isolates her from the other children. Like most of the children wearing the Red badges, she has no knowledge of the virus, nor why she takes the drugs. AIDS education is not taught in most schools in Tanzania.

Temeke, Tanzania
2nd June 2010

The RED Badges of Courage

Images and narrative by carol allen storey

The HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa is growing exponentially, fuelled by ignorance, poverty and promiscuity. One of the significant obstacles in conquering the spread of this intrusive killer has been stigma.

In Tanzania, many primary school students are forced to wear red badges sewn on their uniform denoting their AIDS/HIV positive status. The children’s immense sense of isolation, is unimaginable, all déjà vu of Hitler isolating the Jews into ghettos and the enforcement by the ‘political police’ that they had the yellow Star of David sewn onto their clothes. Human dignity was ignored then as it is today and the world stands by silently. This horrendous infringement of children’s rights is a blight on society even if it is without malice!

my thoughts on photography

carol allen storey


I knew from the beginning when I embarked on my photographic career that I wanted to photograph people and create documentary essays on serious social and political situations, with an emphasis on humanitarian issues, especially amongst women, children and the disenfranchised.

My images are intimate, personal; they are about issues and people I deeply care about. I believe photographs may not be capable of doing the moral work for us, but they can trigger the process of social consciousness.


Photographing harsh humanitarian issues, and tyranny that provoke debate is my aim. Since graduating Central St Martins Master Photography in 2000, I have combined my photographic practice with assignments for in-depth photo essays on behalf of charities here in the UK and the US, along with commissions for corporate installations and commercial premises. Two of my photo essays culminated in solo exhibitions here in the UK with ‘the Savagery & Poetry of Africa’ at the Proud Gallery for ‘WWF’ and ‘Anything is Possible’ at the AOP on behalf of ‘Spirituality for Kids’.


‘ANGELS at the edge of darkness’ is my current personal project. It focuses on the women and children managing the AIDS pandemic in Africa illustrating their courage and dignity and the horrific impact of unabated poverty as this unrelentless killer grows exponentially. Over the past four years I have made 6 self-funded trips to Sub-Sahara Africa to create diverse stories of the critical issues. Recently I was invited by the Frontline Club to present this work.


In my humble opinion, photojournalism can be a potent tool like no other in eliciting every emotional response from laughter to tears. It profoundly has the capacity to turn the tide of the human condition, to be a voice for the voiceless, to inform, be a moral conscience to the global village to take positive action against social injustices.


Margaret Mead once said: 

“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”


Perhaps that is what we dedicated photojournalists endeavour through our imagery.


UNICEF, Save the Children, WWF

Carol Allen Storey



carol allen storey


Carol Allen Storey is a dedicated photojournalist specialising in chronicling complex humanitarian and social issues, especially amongst women and children.

In 2009 she was appointed a UNICEF ambassador. Carol was a finalist in the Taylor-Wessing Portrait Awards exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery 2009, a finalist for social documentary 2008 and 2009 New York Photography Festival. In 2008 she was selected for the Press Photographer’s Year exhibition and book. Carol was also a finalist three years running, 2008-2010 International Spider Awards. Recently she was shortlisted for the 2011 One Life International Portfolio Award.

 Her solo exhibitions include: ‘Anything is Possible’ at the Association of Photographers Gallery 2009 in London, on behalf of the international charity, Spirituality for Kids’. ‘The Vanishing Assets of Africa’ in 2007 - A one year solo installation at the Inmarsat Gallery culminating in an auction by Sothebys benefiting the charity, Télécoms Sans Frontières. In 2004 a commission from WWF culminated in the exhibition ‘The Savagery and Poetry of Africa’ at the Proud Gallery, London.

Storey’s personal project the last four years, ANGELS at the edge of darkness focuses on the women and children managing the AIDS pandemic in Africa, illustrating their courage and dignity and the horrific impact of unabated poverty as this unrelentless killer grows exponentially. Carol is currently creating a photographic journal, working with the ’Save the Children’ charity, illuminating the plight of British children living at the edge of society.






































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