A Glimpse of Love for the Unseen

By Jao Resari

Jhoanna Resari at an exhibition of her art work

Jhoanna ‘Jao’ Resari is a Columban Lay Missionary from Rizal who is now based in Hong Kong as a member of the Lay Missionary Central Leaderships Team. She worked in Taiwan from 2005 until 2014 and has featured on MISYONonline.com a number of times. You may read more about her in our January-February 2016 issue here.

From 29 September to 19 October 2014 the Agape Center for HIV and AIDS Education and Outreach Ministry of the Hsinchu Diocese and Harmony Home Foundation Taiwan, a non-profit organization sheltering people living with HIV and AIDS in Taiwan and China, collaborated in holding a charity art exhibition entitled: ‘A Glimpse of Love for the Unseen’, showing 22 artworks which included oils, charcoals and photographs, to raise awareness on HIV and AIDS.  The exhibition was held in two venues, the first in Hsinchu City and the second in Taipei City. These events were good opportunities for people from different communities to understand the realities of HIV and AIDS and to be in solidarity with people living with HIV and AIDS.

Hsinchu exhibition 1st opening, L-R: Nicole Yang, founder of Harmony Home Foundation Taiwan; Fr Peter O'Neill, director of Hsinchu Migrants and Immigrants Service Center and Migrants' chaplain of Diocese of Hsinchu; Jao Resari, Agape Center; Bishop James Li Tan-kuei, Bishop-Emeritus of Hsinchu; Teacher Hank, volunteer of Harmony Home Foundation Taiwan

It is with a grateful heart that I share with you the reflection I wrote for the exhibit introducing my collection:

Since coming to Taiwan as a Columban lay missionary, I’ve had the opportunity to journey with people who live on the margins of our society,  people from different walks of life having one thing in common  –  they are living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.

It was in Harmony Home, where I worked for five years as a full-time volunteer, that my eyes and my heart were opened to how the realities of HIV and AIDS have deeply affected thousands of lives in Taiwan, in China and in other parts of the world.

Most of the artworks I’ve created are captured moments in the everyday lives of people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. The portraits are of faces unseen by our society. Most often, we see them under statistics or demographics. But they are more than just numbers – they are somebody’s family, relative, neighbor or friend, from newborn babies to teenagers, single mothers to old people. Each person has a sacred story to tell, be it their struggles or fears, joys and dreams.

‘What’s on Your Mind, Child?’ | Oil Painting

Facing the Truth

The stigma attached to and the discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS are what fan the fire of this epidemic. For many people, it is easier to ignore what is happening right before their eyes than to face the reality; for others, it is more bearable to push people who are different from them outside their circle, hiding behind their walls of indifference. Sadly, many still believe that HIV and AIDS have nothing to do with them or their loved ones.

'I Want to be a Happy Bride Someday' | Photograph

The truth is that we are all vulnerable to HIV. All of us are affected by the epidemic. Each person’s attitude, behavior, actions, and choices affect others and also affect our community. So if one of us has HIV, then all of us have HIV.

Finding Hope

In deepening our awareness of how HIV and AIDS affect lives, we can begin to understand our own important role in fighting this epidemic.

'Finding Light in the Dark' | Oil Painting

Having witnessed how HIV has drastically affected thousands of people, young and old, I hope that this exhibition can open more eyes, more hearts into seeing that there is hope after HIV and AIDS; hope in stopping the spread of this illness – and that hope lies in each of us taking action now.

Witnessing Love

This exhibition was also a tribute to the good works done by many people who have been working in solidarity with people living with HIV and AIDS. Their acts of kindness and compassion, untold in news or in the media, but nevertheless, they are the ones who continue to give hope to the hopeless, healing deep wounds caused by fear and ignorance.

It is humbling to witness the power of love overcoming the challenges of HIV and AIDS in the lives of people living on the margins of our society.

'More Than a Hug' | Charcoal

True Love compels us to action. I hope that more people may find the courage to face the challenges brought about by HIV and AIDS, as well as value the life, love and dignity of each person, including people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.

Taipei exhibition 2nd opening, Press conference, Jao Resari with Nicole Yang, staff,
volunteers and residents of Harmony Home, local media and guests