I Am Because We Are is the companion volume to the acclaimed forthcoming documentary film directed by Nathan Rissman and written and produced by Madonna. This book of images by award-winning photojournalist Kristen Ashburn—culled from her work in Malawi and Africa over the past seven years as well as from her specially commissioned photographs for the film—provides an intimate look at the lives of eight Malawian children featured in the film and reveals the harsh reality of the AIDS pandemic throughout southern Africa.
The title is derived from the concept of “Ubuntu,” an idea in African spirituality that states that all of humanity is connected, that we cannot be ourselves without community, that an individual’s well-being is dependent upon the well-being of others.
These heart-wrenching stories are a call to action. In Malawi, a country of 13 million people, over one million are orphans. Looking into the hearts and minds of children who have endured unimaginable suffering, the book provides an unflinching view of life at the center of the global AIDS crisis. This is not just a story about orphans in Malawi, but about global responsibility and human interconnectedness.
I Am Because We Are includes a foreword by Madonna, an afterword by Ashburn, excerpts from interviews with Malawian children, their biographies, and extended captions. Author proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the charitable organization Raising Malawi for their extensive work with orphans throughout Malawi.
About the Author
Kristen Ashburn's photographs and stories from the Middle East, Europe, and Africa have appeared in many publications worldwide. Her accolades include a 2007 Emmy Award nomination, two World Press Photo prizes, a Getty Foundation grant in 2006, Canon's Female Photojournalist Award in 2004, and other honors. She began photographing the impact of AIDS in southern Africa in 2001, and since then has also produced stories on the war in Iraq, Jewish settlers and suicide bombers in Israel's occupied territories, and the aftermath of the tsunami in Sri Lanka and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. In addition to her humanitarian photography, Ashburn is one of the directors of Through the Eyes of Children: The Rwanda Project, a charity that teaches photography to Rwandan orphans of the 1994 genocide and supports them through the sale of their images. Ashburn lives in New York City and is represented by Contact Press Images.
Madonna was born in Bay City, Michigan. She has recorded 16 albums, and appeared in 18 movies.