A Light in the Dark

Role: producer, editor

Narration: Sasha Tsekhanovich, Founder, Humanitarian Action
Editor: Pamela Chen
Photography: Lorena Ros/Panos Pictures for the Open Society Foundations
Design: Zach Wise for the Open Society Foundations
Interview: Denis Kuzmin

Published August 15, 2008

watch at soros.org →

About the project: People who use drugs often face stigma and discrimination when trying to get basic health care. Based in St. Petersburg—a city where 70% of HIV cases are the result of injecting drug use—the Humanitarian Action Fund fights for the health and human rights of injecting drug users, as well as other marginalized groups such as sex workers, migrants, and street children.

The organization, a grantee of the International Harm Reduction Development Program, operates a mobile clinic on a refurbished bus that travels to areas where drug users live and buy drugs. For the last decade, the bus has been a light in the dark, offering clean needles and syringes, alcohol swabs, condoms, psychological counseling, blood testing, basic medical services, and information about safer injecting, HIV, and hepatitis.

In this multimedia piece, founder Sasha Tsekhanovich describes Humanitarian Action’s approach: “not moralization, but an expression of friendship.”