The ongoing pandemic is a place rich with stories many of us could never have imagined. In just over a year, the new normal has been the reality of masks, social distance and isolation.
Lives have been lost, dreams have been derailed but, through it all, we have continued to be human.
In 'Humans of Windhoek', some of the city's pandemic tales are chronicled in a series titled 'Covid-19 Stories'. Based on the famed Brandon Stanton series 'Humans of New York', Humans of Windhoek was founded by photographer and writer Joash Perera and his friend Gary van Wyk in 2014 to encourage a pal who was going through depression.
Seven years later, as Namibians grapple with feelings of isolation and dejection in the age of Covid-19, the motive is much the same.
"We want to bring stories of hope and encouragement and educate people by highlighting the reality of what this pandemic has caused. It helps to hear that other people are going through the same thing you might be experiencing," says Perera, who was inspired to reboot the series by Linda G Iiyambo, who approached him with the first story in the new series.
Hosted primarily on Facebook, Humans of Windhoek follows the photo and caption format of the original but focuses on the stories of ordinary people living through the pandemic.
Featuring a local doctor who says he needed God more than ever during the pandemic as the reality took its toll on his mental, physical and spiritual well-being, as well as Shamiso Fely, who shares their story of isolating alone and watching nature blossom during their exercise time, the series summarises current slices of life ranging from the hopeful youth working in the service industry to a man experiencing his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and an unemployed mum navigating this time through a combination of fitness and faith.
While ongoing protocols prevent the usual approach of featuring the ordinary people the Humans of Windhoek team encounter on the street, the series continues through submissions.
"We ask people to join us in this storytelling experience. With your help, we hope to depict an inclusive, honest and unfiltered account of how Covid-19 re-shaped the fabric of everyday life in Windhoek. The coronavirus pandemic is not partial and it affects every single person no matter who you are," says Perera.
"We want to feature a range of different people from all walks of life. So people are not limited by their job or status," he says.
"By taking a grassroots approach, we hope to create an inclusive narrative of our shared history as it unfolds. We encourage you to depict this change in any artistic medium you deem best captures how your life has changed due to Covid-19. Perhaps this takes the form of an article, a creative reaction, a video, a poem, a painting, photographs or a recipe, whatever you did to get through the pandemic."
In anticipation of a new series, Humans of Windhoek is also open to stories about people making a difference in their communities.
"We are looking for a story. Verbs are better than adjectives. So tell us what happened in your community or your life. And tell us about the person who made it happen," he says.
"Let's see if we can work together to showcase the best of the city. We look forward to experiencing and sharing your story."
Send story submissions and high-res photos to [email protected] and follow Humans of Windhoek on Facebook and Instagram.
- [email protected]; Martha Mukaiwa on Instagram and Twitter; marthamukaiwa.com