Nonjabulo

Portrait Time by Zoe Morley

The last few days have seen me running around all over the shop. I have really been struggling with getting all the portraits done that I need to. It seems that everyone is very much on ‘African Time’ and the more I try to get things done the slower the progress feels. 

It also happens to be exam week for the kids so whilst trying not to disturb their routine too much, and with them all doing different activities at different times of the day it really is almost impossible to organise a time that they can do it - not just when they WANT to do it - which seems to be NEVER. Besides all that I have managed to get what I need I think. I would have liked to have spent more time getting more shots, but it has proven near impossible to turn teenagers into models! 

Just a few fun snaps of the the kids

Just a few fun snaps of the the kids

I also managed to go around to every single child at Rehoboth and take an individual portrait of them too - it wasn’t my original plan but just in case I come back in another 5 - 10 years it might be nice to see where they are at again.

Between trying to convince teenagers to let me photograph them, as well as the rest of the kids, I also went far out into the local community. About 1 hour off a winding  dirt road into the middle of nowhere. I met with a lovely lady who runs a day care centre for under-privileged kids from the ages of 2-4. Without this out-reach project no kids in the area would have the opportunity for early childhood development, and many of them wouldn’t even be fed properly. Its partially government funded, but over 100 kids go there a day, so the centre needs to bring in at least $700 a month to keep it running. This doesn’t sound like a lot to us, but for them its massive, and for that amount they rely solely on sponsorship. With that money the teachers can be paid, but most importantly the kids get fed! They receive two meals a day there, with food that contains added vitamin supplements that they are missing out on at home. When the kids first join the the centre most of them have head and mouth sores, and other sicknesses related due to poor nutrition. 

The community area around Khulani. (Taken with iphone... surprisingly) 

The community area around Khulani. (Taken with iphone... surprisingly) 

This day care centre (or Crèche as they are called in South Africa) is called Khulani - or ‘Growth’ in English. I spent the day here with Ally running around trying to get as many pictures as I could for her to use for promotional use to help her with sponsorship. I also took individual portraits of all of the kids so they can take one home for the parents and keep for themselves as none of them would have printed photos. It was quite a mission to organise over 80 kids under the age of 4 for their own photo. Most of them were completely terrified of me, and their faces covered in snot, so made for some interesting shots. 

I went back to Genesis as well just to take a few more photos through the wards. I went back to visit a lady, Cornelia, who I had made friends with last time I was in. She was only 70, Caucasian, never been married, with no kids and had suffered a terrible stroke. So she was in Genesis for general care and hopefully rehabilitation if she is ever able to walk again (doubtful). When I came through to see her it was pretty disturbing. She was in total agony and there was no medication she could take to ease her pain. She just took my hand and started crying, and saying things like ‘please give me something so I don’t have to live anymore, I would rather be dead’. She kept repeating the part ‘I would rather be dead’. It was a pretty difficult thing to try to say the right words to comfort a crying lady who has nothing in the world and doesn’t want to live anymore. I really didn’t know what to say, I felt absolutely terrible for her. I have so much admiration for the smiling staff that have to deal with that day in and day out. They are honestly angels, and if they are unable to get funding then these people would have nobody to care for them, and nowhere to go. 

Cornelia. 

Cornelia. 

After finishing all I could do at Rehoboth and getting what I could of the photos I needed, I left for Durban and had to say goodbye to the kids. Was sad that I had to say good-bye to my sponsor kid again, but he was pretty stoked when I took him and 2 of the other older boys out for lunch and to see X-men. 

with some of the little kids before I left. 

with some of the little kids before I left. 

I’ll be in Durban for the next week or so trying to organise a time to go in to Kwathintwa School School For The Deaf, a boarding school or underprivileged deaf children. I first heard about this school 10 years ago and have wanted to go back to photograph it since. The headmaster Mavis Naidoo is one of those incredible humans capable of anything, so I am looking forward to see her work at the school and how it is run!

just for laughs ... our 'dabbing' attempt.

just for laughs ... our 'dabbing' attempt.

Getting Started by Zoe Morley

After arriving into Durban I ventured downtown to hire my ‘beast' of a car, also know as the smallest thing on the road. Was quite a challenge working out how use a ridiculous choke-like hand-brake, drive manual, navigate without google-maps (anyone who knows me would understand how much of disaster this is for me) whilst at the same time avoiding crazy taxi-bus’s full of locals criss-crossing the roads like speed demons. 

I got myself a sim card, but with limited reception google-maps was not my friend and seemed to enjoy sending me on a wild goose chase! After getting extremely lost in sugar cane fields, only 2% battery left on my phone, the sun setting and on the verge of an anxiety attack I managed to find Rehoboth! 

When I entered Rehoboth it was incredible to see how much had changed and developed in the 10 years since I volunteered here. When I was here there were only 6 houses with 25 kids and now they have 21 houses with 80 kids. There is also a school on site now for the older kids, separate pre-schools and day cares, a little shop for the house mums - it really has become a little village. 

The most amazing part was seeing the kids. I guess you can only really see the passing of time when you look at children and how they have grown. The great news coming here was that most of the original kids I was here with are still here - but all looking so grown up! I could only just recognise them as they have all grown into young adults. It was quite a shock. 

With all the older boys! All these kids where with me 10 years ago, except for one. You may recognise the boy at the front as the face of my original exhibition :) 

With all the older boys! All these kids where with me 10 years ago, except for one. You may recognise the boy at the front as the face of my original exhibition :) 

When I was here 10 years ago I formed a special bond with one little boy. He was only two years old when I was here, he couldn't walk because his legs had been badly burned and he couldn't speak. The most rewarding experience I had there was that I taught him to walk, and his first words were my name. Although he didn't feature in my original exhibition, coming back just to see him was something I was looking forward to the most. Now he is 12, and almost as tall as me! He actually remembered me which was so nice because I came back to visit him 5 years ago on a day visit. He is now into athletics and is winning all the local running races. Amazing to see how far he has come from the little boy who couldn't walk 10 years ago. 

2005

2005

 2016

 2016

The older boys have moved off site to a house about half an hour drive away, and the older girls are still on site. The most amazing change I saw was in one girl, who when I was at Rehoboth everyone believed she only had a couple more months to live. She was tiny for her age, never talked or smiled. Had to carry around an oxygen tank and mask with her to help her breathe, and we used to have to check her fingernails to make sure they weren’t going blue. Now she looks so healthy and happy, with the biggest, and most beautiful smile out of all the children. I was completely blown away!

The first two photos here were in 2005, when she was so small and sick. She looks like a toddler but she was actually already 5 years old. The bottom image is of her today.

I have begun to re-photograph them all, it has taken them a little while to warm to the idea. I wanted them to be comfortable with it all first which has taken a few days. Every day I would come by either one of the girls would be out, or one didn’t like her hair that day, or there was some sort of excuse. But after letting them muck around with my iPad, and taking some polaroid shots they got in the mood and found the whole thing quite hilarious. I showed them all my old photos and they couldn’t stop giggling and making fun of each other. The polaroids have also been a big hit! I have gone through a ridiculous amount of instant film, just because they are so obsessed with it. They had never seen instant film before and the surprise and excitement it brought the kids has been the most entertaining part of the whole adventure so far! 

There is just one of the kids that looks to be like it won’t be possible to photograph. He has turned 19 and unfortunately has taken a step away from Rehoboth and moved into the wrong circles, not wanting to be contacted. Such a shame as I remember him being the nicest kid, such a caring big brother to the other little ones. Now unfortunately since removing himself from Rehoboth he is no longer taking his meds, as well as getting himself involved in criminal activities. They think he may eventually come back for help, but in the mean time there isn’t anything that can really be done as he just wants to be left alone. As he was the oldest of the kids, he did feature a lot in my original exhibition, so its sad I wont be able to capture him again. I was thinking of trying to get his number, even though everyone has told me he wont be interested or answer, and no one has wanted me to get in touch, but I might try to find a way. Fingers crossed.

The other bad news is that I have been having a little difficulty with my film camera, so the frustrating part is that I am going to have to re-shoot all the kids I have done already, as I've had a few problems with the film not winding on properly.  Obviously finding out back home whether the film develops or not is a bit too late, so just to be safe I am going to make sure I get all the shots again. Face palm. 

I have also been volunteering my photography services at a local AIDs hospice. I spent the day there yesterday spending time with the patients in the wards. Many of them are in the final stages of AIDs, or have suffered a stroke and can no longer be cared for at home or by the hospital. 

It is really one of the most amazing places I have ever visited. I spoke to some of the patients who know they are dying but they are all so thankful to be there as now they won’t die alone. They are being shown so much care and love that they wouldn’t have received otherwise, as most of them have been abandoned by the families.

There are also some remarkable stories or rehabilitation coming out of there as well - even though they had come in to pass away, some have recovered well enough just through the amazing care they receive and taking the correct medications that they are able to go back to their communities. Such a remarkable outcome, because if there were more places like this that could help parents get back to working health so they can return to the communities then there wouldn’t be so many orphans as a result of the HIV/AIDs epidemic - and places like Rehoboth wouldn't be at capacity with kids orphaned by due to AIDs. 

It made me think that even though it's easy to want to raise money for the children affected by HIV/AIDs, if more money could be raised to help create other hospices like this one then the percentage or children who are orphaned would decline. Currently, Genesis, this particular hospice is the only one in the area that operates as a rehab and step-down care facility - with only 40 beds available. They rely mostly on donations to run, with only 50% government funding.  During the next few days, I am going to help them put together a fund-raising video and slideshow which will hopefully help them with some sponsorship. They need new photos for their pamphlets, brochures and website, so I am just going to help them out with some promotional material. I honestly couldn’t speak of a more deserving place in need of funds. 

I will continue to photograph at Rehoboth and Genesis for the next few days, then will be heading back up to Durban to spend some time photographing at a school for underprivileged deaf children to also help them with some promotional material. 

xx

**Just as a little side note, I am not allowed to mention the children's names due to privacy laws.