White Shelter, chapter I
Project info

This photographic work was carried out during the first months of 2015. It tells about a not well known aspect of the current period (and in the post-apartheid) in South Africa, where even the white people are victims of several incidents of discrimination, in particular following the government program "Black Economic Empowerment" (BEE), established to redress "racial" inequalities generated by the previous regime. Without going into the merits of a political issue that has deep roots, these photographs describe a community (shelter) that welcomes people and entire families of "Afrikaaners", so called white South Africans, who have lost everything, from work to home, after several unfortunate events that highlight the absence of a form of assistance to those in difficulty or no longer able to hold a job, especially if the skin color, this time, is clear. The shelters where I have been generally accommodate several dozen people and are located in the province of Gauteng, the richest of South Africa, but with about 40% unemployment rate. Whites are still representing the wealthy elite, but the number of afrikaaners citizens who are struggling to find a stable job, especially if they do not hold a degree important, is more and more increasing. Some of these communities are home to only women, many of whom are victims not only of discrimination but also of domestic violence. These centers, for the most part, are fully funded by the government, but there are some managed by using private resources, so the differences in appearance among the different shelters are remarkable. The age of the guests varies widely, there are young families who can not find a job and a stable position within the society, but also men and women of middle age that hardly can find a new job. In one of the last communities that I visited, the subject of the photoreport in question, some of the younger and physically able to work, make do with small craft works that are commissioned to the shelter; they work several hours a day, almost the full week, mainly to keep yourself and hope for a more stable employment in future outside the center. As for the very elderly or those unable to perform hard physical work, instead, the time passes slowly, punctuated by mealtimes and some reading. Regarding the women, the main activity is the management of the kitchen and preparation of the meals.
The center is of great help to many of the people housed, providing not only food, shelter and medical care (and some sporadic work) but also providing a kind of education service for the children of some of them, staying in the community and which would have many difficulties to get to school.