The World AIDS Museum and Educational Center will be hosting a VIP benefit reception with photojournalist Smiley Pool at The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale on April 7 at 5:30 p.m.

This is the only South Florida showing of “Through the White Door,” a documentary photo project that portrays the interconnected human experience of families that have been affected by HIV/AIDS.

This project began with a life-changing photo assignment in Romania for the Houston Chronicle.

“It’s one thing to see pictures of kids living in sewers. It’s another thing to crawl through the darkness with them to get to their little nest, where they let you take pictures of their baby,” Pool said. “You can look at pictures of homeless kids in the snow, but the full impact of their reality pierces your heart when you stand there and feel the cold.”

Two newspaper stories stemmed from this trip in the 1990s and the rest of Pool’s work on the documentary was completed on his vacation time over the span of 20 years.

One of these articles, Worlds Apart, became a calling of his, which was to document the disparities between children born with HIV in a fortunate country like the U.S. versus children elsewhere.

The project ended up becoming an oversized hardcover book with 212 pages of his photography. Pool’s wife, Jessica Johns Pool, is a writer specializing in health care, and she wrote the text for the book. “Through the White Door” is their way of sharing the inspirational stories of the people they have met along their way.

Pool also documented the formation and the rise of the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative, which is now the largest provider of care and treatment for HIV-positive children in the world.

“After over two decades following this story, here’s what I know: We can all make a difference,” Pool wrote on his website. “It might be in a way you never expected. It might be in an arena you never explored before now. Or, you might have been preparing for it all your life and never knew it. But when your chance to make a difference lands in your lap, I hope you’ll grab on.”

At the reception, guests will have a chance to meet and speak with Pool and autographs will be available for purchase. All of the proceeds from this event will benefit the World AIDS Museum and Educational Center.

Tickets to this event are $25 and attendants will be required to wear a mask and practice safe social distancing. There will be a limit of 100 guests.


“Through the White Door” will be on exhibit at the World AIDS Museum and Educational Center from April 8 - 30. For more information about the “Through the White Door” photo exhibit, please call 954-390-0550 or visit worldaidsmuseum.org.


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