North Star Alliance trucking community clinics
North Star Alliance is an international non-profit organisation that provides health services to hard-to-reach populations like truck drivers, sex workers and community members along main transport corridors and highways in 13 countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
North Star Alliance brings health to hard-to-reach people across Africa in a “Blue Box”. They use converted shipping containers painted blue to house clinics that deliver public health programmes for people with increased health risks, like truck drivers and sex workers, and primary health care to communities with limited or no access to medical services. Since 2007, they have grown from one clinic with 5,000 visitors, to a network reaching over 230,000 people in 12 countries every year. Each drop-in clinic is run by well trained clinical and outreach teams and supported by our electronic health passport system, which allows patients to access their health records at every clinic within our network.
The brief was simple, photograph North Star clinic staff, the truck drivers, sex workers and community members that make use of these clinics.
I needed to capture the clinicians interacting with their patients during HIV counselling & testing, education as well as all their daily functions.
Also required was wider contextual shots of the clinic to give people a sense of where they were placed.
The idea was to get a sense of what it was like for this community and how much the clinics benefitted the community.
During my time with the clinic staff i met some fantastic people committed to the health of their patients.
I met truck drivers who lived in their trucks – eating, sleeping, driving. They did not have time to make a doctor’s appointment for a checkup. So being able to have their weight checked, HIV tests done and medication dispensed while their truck was being refuelled was invaluable to their health.
And what a bunch of characters – like the boys from Merweville in their truck called Die Skaap with a pink stuffed toy on the dashboard. All they wanted was to have their picture taken. Unfortunately there were also those who were incredibly circumspect of me and what i was doing. No amount of reassuring by the clinic staff would convince them to be a part of the process.
Then there were the sex workers. Terribly sad stories of women who due to a series of events in their lives had ended up as sex workers.
The North Star Alliance clinicians were not only treating them at the clinics, but they also set up roaming HIV testing and counseling stations. These were run from out of the way truck stops and at a park in an area where many sex workers operated. None of them were keen to have their faces shown. Either because they did not want their faces linked to the work they did or the fact that their pimps would beat them if they did.
I think these people had the biggest impact on me during this project.
To find out more about North Star alliance, please visit their website: http://www.northstar-alliance.org/
Here are a few of my favourite pictures from the shoot.