Body mapping, a technique first used by HIV groups in Uganda to record the lives of positive women afraid they would die and leave their children without memories of who they were, has been used by the Trust for Indigenous Cultures and Health (TICAH) to chart the struggles and healing journeys of positive women, youth, and men around the world. After doing body mapping workshops with HIV support groups in several countries in Asia and Africa, TICAH recently partnered with Sisters Mobilized for AIDS/HIV Research and Treatment (SMART) in New York City to bring the stories of positive women living in the USA into our conversations about HIV and into the programs designed to reach these women. Recognizing that we are more alike than we are different, the SMART/TICAH body maps, like the earlier ones done in the developing world, show us that our spiritual lives matter, our loved ones matter, our feelings about ourselves matter. The act of creating something beautiful can itself be healing. Getting better and feeling better are more than a matter of taking our pills on time. Art can be a very “practical theology” on our road to healing. We begin each session in a body mapping workshop with a meditation, a song, a prayer, a spirited way of sharing. We end by listening to one another describe our painting and what it meant to us to create it.
By Mary Ann Burris
Mary Ann Burris is the founder and Executive Director of the Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH) in Kenya.