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!
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.
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.
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.
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!