African Women's Health Group
African Women’s Health Group (AWHG) offers support to over 100 BAME women weekly and has strong networks within the wider neighbourhood. For this project, AWHG collected stories from a range of service-users, neighbours and BAME women who come to them for help. These stories were then shared in a final event, with food, celebration and the viewing of stories on video, via images and writing.
African Women’s Health Group: Our pandemic story
When Covid 19 was announced, the initial reaction with our service users like the majority of the city, country and world was uncertainty and fear. Then came the reality, then came Covid coming closer to home, closer to our friends and closer to our families. We had many of our service users that were impacted by the pandemic - hospitalization, friends and families having lost their lives from the pandemic. The stories of loss not only from the tragic, Covid 19 deaths however the loss and grief from losing employment, grieving their family, friends and the loss of livelihoods which had a detrimental impact on the physical, emotional and mental well being.
There are countless pandemic stories that have touched us all, that have affected us all, which have been our stories. One of those stories is a story of a young woman, 24 years of age, the oldest sibling in her family. Her father, an otherwise fit middle aged man diagnosed with Covid 19 and how this impacted her, her mother and younger siblings. The father was the head of the household, the main family earner and caregiver. He received a near fatal diagnosis, before leaving for the hospital he quickly wrote his will and said his final goodbyes to his wife, eldest daughter and younger children who are of school age. He was in ICU in isolation for 3 weeks; the family asked the local community and our organisation to keep him in our thoughts and prayers. We were all in mourning, such was the ill health of the young women’s father, the family or the father never expected him to come back home. However, this was a miracle story, as despite the trauma, and the sense of loss and grief as the family were processing the doctor prognosis, he survived.
This is in contrast to other pandemic stories which sadly do not have a happy ending. Another story, same city, same area, same community, like the previous story, a human story, someone’s family. One of our service users experienced the immense loss of several of her immediate family members all passing away from Covid 19 in a short space of time. Unable to process the loss and grief and then to this day, still living in fear that Covid 19 is still present, and she can see experience more loss. They lost their grandfather, uncle and brother within a 3 week period. 3 members of her immediate family, the trauma, loss and grief still remain with her. They still are still heavily traumatized by this event, which has impacted her life today. They are always thinking about the loss and highly anxious because of the passing of her family members. They express their fear that their son, husband and even she will catch Covid 19 and it will prove fatal like their family members.
Like many individuals in the area, city, country and world, many of our services users express the fact they are seeing people with and without the vaccination are dying from Covid 19. They have seen people of all ages pass away from Covid 19, have suffered from loss and not being able to process the grief due to not being able to say goodbye due to the lockdown and Covid 19 restrictions. There are many deaths during the pandemic and goodbyes within our local community with people also passing away from other health conditions who we couldn’t say goodbye too because of the Covid 19 restrictions. Our pandemic stories share common emotions, experiences, fears, grief and loss. We lost however; we still had stories of hope, stories of the community coming together and still have the future.