We Are The Heritage 2017
We Are The Heritage is an art project in collaboration with the Bumi orphanage in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the southern province of Katanga. They are a sustainable orphanage currently sheltering around 300 orphans. The DRC is a nation that has been in a constant state of turmoil for over a century, facing civil war, famine, the HIV pandemic, genocide, rape culture and one of the highest orphan rates in the world. We Are The Heritage is meant to bring visibility to the orphans who face abandonment, violence, and famine.
The children were wrapped in the Pagnee fabric, which was originally created by the Belgium colonists so that the locals did not adopt European style. After decolonization, the Pagnee continued to be used in central Africa as the main fabric for fashion, with the locals claiming it as their own.
By wrapping the orphans in the Pagnee fabric, I wished to show how the orphans are the future of their culture. The value of one Pagnee can feed, educate, medicate and shelter a child for one month. I literally wanted to wrap the orphans in what is considered the "Heritage" of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The message is clear: the cost of funding a child's future is very low. Yet, similar to the West who prefer to spend money on material possessions, the locals in western Africa prefer to have their heritage represented in their garments rather than their children.