A participatory photovoice project hosted by Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) explored how the lives of young people living in northern KwaZulu-Natal were impacted by Covid-19 and the July 2021 unrest.

The Indabayami (‘My story’) photovoice project was a collaborative project with young people working as peer navigators in AHRI’s research area in uMkhanyakude. It culminated with public exhibitions of the photos and stories at the KwaMsane and Mtubatuba libraries in June and July, 2022, as well as an online exhibition and photobook.

The project drew on photovoice as a methodology. This is a participatory process where the participants – as researchers, communicators, and photographers – identify, represent, reflect on, and document their communities, environments, and reality(ies) using visuals. Their photographs and reflections bring new and fresh insights and perspectives and raise awareness of the narrators’ realities.

For the Indabayami project, the participants used their mobile phone cameras to capture images and journal their stories; documenting how their lives and communities have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal during July 2021.

Five themes: 1) Resilience, 2) Livelihood and poverty, 3) Unrest, 4) Protection and loss, 5) Youth and Social gatherings emerged during this process.

“I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to share in these young people’s experiences and step into their realities of the Covid-19 pandemic and the July unrest. Young people are not only an integral part of the health research we undertake at AHRI, they also help shape the future. Knowing and understanding their experiences ensures that we are developing research questions that seek to contribute towards optimal health and well-being of the research communities, which is AHRI’s vision,” said AHRI community, marketing and partnerships executive, Munyadziwa Rabambi.

The online exhibition can be viewed here:  https://indabayami.org/

By Roanne Peters