COVID-19 Heroes and Casualties

Covid-19 might be a great equaliser, but hunger isn’t.

Covid19 does not discriminate against financial status, as it sickens and kills both the rich and the poor, but when it comes to food, the commonality ends there.

Large numbers of poor, starving people who are already going hungry,  will now be pushed to the brink of starvation, and many more will follow.

Although many food parcels are being distributed to those who are desperately in need of help, there is always an acute shortage, and many are left without  any food at all.

Worldwide, there are growing numbers of people starving, and this is accelerating daily. For many, they become desperate, turning to violence, in the effort to gain access to food and survive!

Covid-19 has created a stark reality, of making the poor more vulnerable, and uncovering how unequal the world has become.

LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories

‘One thousand bags monthly to feed a family of four for a month’.

LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories

Inspired by their late dad Eddie, 16-year-old Rouxle and her younger brother Duncan have started a project to help feed the poor communities in the area.

In the midst of this chaotic times, Rouxle and Duncan raised R1.9 million at the beginning of the lockdown to put together 5,000 food parcels. Together with their dad Eddie, and his endless dedication for helping those in desperate need, made it possible to keep this initiative going and packed 15,000 food parcels since the lockdown started in South Africa.

Recently, Eddie passed away due to a very unexpected heart attack at just 42 years of age.

Despite their devastating loss, Rouxle and Duncan continue to raise funds to keep the project going and carry this legacy on Eddie’s name.

LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories
LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories

There are places in South Africa, and around the world, which are still bracing for the deadly Coronavirus that is causing a global pandemic havoc since December last year.

​Many of the underprivileged people living in remote areas don’t even know about the Codiv19, and how serious and deadly it is. Providing them with information, and educating them on the importance of hygiene and physical distancing is as essential as bringing them food and medical care.

LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories

‘Hlengiwe, a Real Community Hero.’ 

At the beginning of the Covid19 lockdown, 28-year-old Hlengiwe started cooking for all 88 members of her Kwazikhali community, near Frasers. The lockdown has hit hard on everyone and made the poor and unprivileged living in rural areas more vulnerable.

On her campfire kitchen, Helengiwe starts cooking at eight o’clock every morning, feeding porridge to the children and the elderly first, and she then she carries on preparing meals for everyone by lunchtime.

Hlengiwwe has two young children, and like many single mothers in South Africa, she knows too well how challenging it is to fend for the well-being of her children and herself.

The Covid-19 pandemic lockdown had significant implications for the local children’s nutrition. School closures meant that many children lost the opportunity to have even just one healthy meal a day.

Hlengiwe’s soup kitchen provides daily warm meals such as rice dishes, curries, soups and stews. The monthly donations from His Way Outreach, the Sai Baba Foundation and the local IPSS, provide Hlengiwe with the food essentials she needs to keep feeding her community throughout this uncertain and challenging times.

LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories

Hlengiwe also coaches her community netball team, called ‘Dream Team’, a mixed group of boys and girls, ages 12-18 years. Every month, the team play matches against other local communities.

‘Not only these youngsters get a good workout, but it also helps them to stay away from drugs and alcohol abuse, and it helps prevent teenage pregnancies, ‘says Hlengiwe.

LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories
LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories

“MOM. SHE is a HERO.”

South Africa has the highest number of single motherhood in the world. Near two-thirds of South African children grow up in homes without a father.

In the past, and especially during the apartheid, the family structure for poor and black communities was damaged when men needed to travel far to find jobs and stayed away from their families for months.

Today, many of those children that grew up without a father are now fathers themselves, but struggle to be good ones.

Although an absent father is better than an abusive one, fathers are important no matter which culture, colour or social status you come from.

Studies have shown that girls who grow up with a father have higher self-esteem, and have less likelihood of getting pregnant at a young age. Boys growing up with a father are less likely to display dominance and aggression.

Single moms in the poor communities, and as young as 16yrs old, usually bring up their children alone, others have the help of their extended family members and government grants.

They don’t know  the importance of being a good role model, loving, teaching and providing their children with emotional and physical support.

LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories

Fourteen-month-old twin girls Luanda and Notha, are being looked after by their aunt Nandi, while mom Zanele is busy doing laundry and cooking for all eight children and her two other sisters who live together.

LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories
LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories

‘Beyond the pale.’

LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories

Gogo Sylvia (64), cooks daily for 75 kids at the Shakaskraal Community Crèche.

LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories

Zulu woman carrying her 4-month old baby girl on her back.

‘The toll on photographers and journalists during #covid19.’

Professional photographers and journalists around the globe have been exposing themselves and going into the fray to capture images of a changing world.

LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories

Despite the risks, we photojournalists are relentlessly compelled by a need to document what the world looks like during Covid19.

The pandemic is historical, and these kinds of stories are why we become journalists; – ‘these are the times for trained photographers and storytellers to illuminate viewers about what’s going on out there, even if we do it for free.’ This is what I tell my friends.

​Over the last week in the US, while documenting the protests, more than 150 assaults on professional photographers and journalists have been recorded. Some were blinded, one permanently by police projectiles aimed at them and others were hospitalized with critical injuries.

In Iran, journalists are constantly harassed for disputing official covid19 statistics.

In many parts of the world with government-controlled regions, journalists have  to choose between saying nothing or risk being accused of undermining the country’s prestige and therefore being incarcerated.

Media workers around the world are being exposed to both violence and the pandemic, and practising journalism is becoming more challenging every day. ‘Do what you love , and love what you do.’

LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories

In the midst of this chaotic times, a child’s smile is worth a thousand words.

LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories

’His face is a picture of his mind. His eyes are his interpreter, and the smile is his welcome.’ While a smile can be faked, the eyes never do.

LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories

Gogo awaits patiently for the weekly team of volunteers that are bringing food parcels to her and her community.

LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories

Child: ‘Hold my hand mom!’

Mom: ‘But I am holding your hand‘

Child: ‘No, If I hold your hand and something happens to me, I might let go. But if you hold my hand, I know for sure you’d never let me go.’

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