While the ‘new normal’, brought on by the pandemic, has been a shock to the system, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg quickly adapted its approach, successfully taking much of its engagement online. This led to the inception of its project, Online Digital Storytelling Workshop for Grassroots Energy and Climate Change Activists – targeting grassroots activists, community-based organisations (CBOs) and communities in general.

In a bid to keep grassroots engagement alive and interactive – particularly since it often relies on more personal communications – participants were asked to try and visually capture moments and images that show the issues they face. Issues which the wider public is usually not aware of.

We hope that by sharing our energy and climate change stories, here and with the global society, we are better able to not only educate communities about the climate justice movement but also their role in the #JustTransition, that must happen.

Digital storytelling has become such a crucial skill, especially in the current situation, as a way to amplify the ‘unheard’ voices of communities affected by different issues. There are now so many platforms where communities can tell their stories and share their experiences, while also learning from others.

Here two of our Digital Storytellers share their experience:

Nompelo Honi from PE says, “What I have learned from being a champion is how to take pictures using different contrasts and angles, and I have also learned how to take certain pictures in different environmental aspects.”

“It was great to better understand how to work with my community and how to communicate with them, when taking their pictures because I also had to consider their views and how a certain environmental issue is affecting their livelihoods. Recently, I have learnt how to utilize my social media in voicing out the issues of the community, to certain participants around our metro,” says Honi.

We’re still at it with our Councilor we are committed in keeping our city clean we hope other wards would adapt to this ??  – Nompelo Honi

Thanduxolo Makeleni from Zwide says, “Being an Earthlife Africa digital champion was a difficult task, at first. I did not know what to do nor what to expect. It was nerve-wracking, I won’t lie. It was hard to learn some of the basics of Zoom meetings because in this setting it was so easy to say that you understand something although you do not. However, it was dealing with the community members – who were all struggling under this pandemic – which was the hardest part of them all.

But never mind the challenges because I have learned how to take pictures in different angles, and which settings I can use to get the best image. I also learnt that your pictures must tell a story. This helped me to improve some of my technical abilities to be a photographer in future.”

Situation right now in Zwide, one of the funeral parlour is burning down “shweme and shweme ” – Thanduxolo Makeleni