South Africa has undergone tremendous change since its birth as a democracy nearly 20 years ago. It has made recognizable progress in changing the status quo, with millions of people being lifted out of poverty and placed well on the road to self determination, prosperity and dignity.
However huge challenges remain, especially in the areas of education and health. A largely dysfunctional government health system, particularly in the marginalized rural and township areas, has left millions of people without access to adequate health services. In a country ravaged by one of the highest HIV prevalence’s in the world, with an unemployment rate hovering around one third of the population, and family structures decimated by the quadruple impact of HIV, poverty, historic policy and inadequate education, the effects on the ground are heartfelt. Numerous statistics and white papers continue to be produced and discussed around conference tables and in air conditioned rooms, however it is primarily within the homes, and particularly on the faces and in the eyes of those effected, that the true impact of the countries failing health system is revealed.
This project began as an attempt to document the good work being done by two Palliative care NGO's in the province of Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa. I really wanted to tell a positive story, to find the smiles and project the hope that I know exists in the area's documented. However it very quickly became apparent that only concentrating on the good stories would be to inflict a gross injustice on the many millions of people for whom daily life is a struggle just to stay alive, who have been largely forsaken by a Government that has failed to deliver on even the most basic of health needs. As much as i wanted to tell a positive story, I knew that I could not ignore the reality I was witnessing on a day by day basis, in virtually every household I visited.
I understand that there is a trend in the NGO and Documentary fields to tell the positive stories, that the world is tired of the starving African child imagery, but sometimes when confronted by reality there is no other way than to tell it like it is and to be brutally honest with the subject matter, because only by entering the void and illuminating the injustices therein can we as photographers hope to use our tools to help those most in need.
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Woza Moya ( www.wozamoya.org.za)