Holly Krohn ’09 exhibits Faces of Lily

When Holly Krohn was a junior, she went to South Africa to study socialization among orphaned baboons. Last year, after a conversation with one of her instructors, Carnegie Professor Roger LeBrun, she went back to South Africa on an undergraduate research grant from the URI Honors Program to work with children at Lily of the Valley, an orphanage for HIV positive children.

Holly, a biology and anthropology major from Storrs, Conn, is doing a senior honors project on the high rate of HIV infection in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Her experience at Lily of the Valley not only gives her research a personal perspective, but also inspired her to present a photo exhibit as part of her project.

The result is Faces of Lily: The HIV Orphans of KwaZulu-Natal. Professor LeBrun, her senior project advisor and an accomplished photographer, is helping her select and edit the exhibit photos. Faces of Lily will be displayed this spring in Lippitt Hall on URI’s Kingston Campus.

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The photos in this slideshow, and others, are available for purchase, with all proceeds benefiting the children of Lily of the Valley. For more information, email Holly.



Lily of the Valley Children’s Village is located in the rural South African province of KwaZulu Natal. Widespread poverty affects most of the agricultural communities and townships within this province.



There are close to 120 children residing at Lily of the Valley, over 80% of them HIV positive. Many have battled with tuberculosis in the past, and some still do.




In South Africa, antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to combat HIV/AIDS are distributed for free, at the cost of waiting up to 12 hours at a pharmacy in order to receive them.




The tuberculosis clinic at the King George V Hospital in Durban has an outdoor waiting room. In the winter, temperatures often drop to 40°F—many patients would be bundled in blankets while waiting to be seen. Nurses and doctors in the intake room did not wear face masks.



The kids at Lily of the Valley range in age from 4 months to 17 years old. All children are housed in one of the 23 cottages on the grounds. Up to six children live in each house with a long-term, live-in house mother from the local community.



All children of age attend schools in the local township and participate in homework club, run by the Lily volunteers.





Lily of the Valley encompasses not only the Children’s Village, but a Community Center, which provides community projects including a bakery, vegetable tunnels, a sewing room, computer training facility, day care, and medical center to the local townships.



The Community Center provides valuable experience and work skills to a community that is largely unemployed.





Due to school regulations, all students—boys and girls—must wear their hair cropped.





Lily of the Valley is largely supported by the U.S.-based foundation Lily of the Valley Endeavor (LoVE).





Lily of the Valley volunteers span a broad range of ages, nationalities, and backgrounds. Many stay for a few months, and some stay for years.




Some of the childrens’ favorite pastimes include knitting, reading, singing, playing with volunteers, and just being kids!