10 September 2021 | Story Reuben Maeko | Photo Supplied
Shezree Tiel winner of the student category.

As part of the Faculty of Health Sciences’ Awareness Initiative for Mental Health (FoHS AIM High) to raise awareness regarding mental health and well-being among students and staff, the faculty held a photo competition for its students and staff members. 

The competition with the theme, Things my Gogo taught me, received 70 entries and according to the Programme Director in the School of Clinical medicine, Dr Lynette Van der Merwe, the project was aimed at encouraging students and staff members to show creativity and passion by sharing photos with a reflection on the theme.
For the year 2021, the mental health awareness competition had six (6) winners for both student and staff. The photo competition was judged by Prof Willem Kruger, head of the Department of Community Health and an award-winning photographer.

An opportunity to celebrate grandmothers

Mrs Mary-Ann Naudé, author, and Mrs Madeleen Eygelaar, photographer, were the joint winners of the first prize in the staff category. The competition gave Naude, an Assistant Officer at the Clinical Skills Unit for the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, an opportunity to celebrate the life of her grandmother Mary, whose value, despite her generous soul, was unfortunately not always valued while she was alive.

“The competition made me think of the influences on my life of strong women like my two oumas and my mother. I realised that I am who I am today because of their hard work and their examples. I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I feel honoured that our entry was chosen above the many, many excellent other entries,” says Naudé.

The joint winner of the staff category, Eygelaar, a physiotherapy junior lecturer at the Department of Physiotherapy, says she grew up without a mother, losing hers at a young age, and learnt about life, nature, love and art from her grandmother. 

“I wished to celebrate her, capturing the influence she had over my life. She is still the light in my life and the warmth in my soul, as I am fortunate that she is still alive. However, she lives far away. I was happy to join with Mary-Ann in sharing our love of our grandmothers in order to symbolically capture those expressions of love. 

Mary-Ann Naudé, author, and Madeleen Eygelaar, photographer, were the
joint winners of the first prize in the staff category of the Faculty of Health Sciences’
photo competition with the theme, Things my Gogo taught me.

“The photo competition made me realise what a privilege it is to have a grandmother in your life, who share love and wisdom with you in a gentle and kind manner. Winning the competition, I was surprised, as I did not expect others to feel the same emotions I felt when taking the photos. It is a blessing to touch others with a picture that means so much to me personally. In that regard, I am very thankful. I was impressed with so many other beautiful photos that told the story of the love of their grandmothers, so I was humbled to receive acknowledgement for mine.”

Competition was a way of expressing her journey

The student category winner, Shezree Tiel, who is a third-year medical student, said the competition was a way of expressing her journey in the medical field. She saw an opportunity to tell her story on how she dealt with mental health problems during her studies through a photo. 

Shezree had lost hope in her studies and her mental health was a serious challenge. She wanted to share her story by encouraging other students not to lose hope and the competition gave her motivation to speak out about how she feels and deals with mental-health related issues. 

Given the hardships during COVID-19, Shezree felt happy and courageous to win the prize. “It will help me to encourage others to share how they feel about mental health and well-being,” she said.

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