The elderly in nursing homes is one of the most vulnerable groups, especially in this pandemic. Also at risk are its staff, such as Louis Mary Sesu Ratnam, an Indian Catholic nun in her 60s who spends her time helping others at Macao’s Caritas Santa Maria Home in the St Lazarus district. “Caregivers are essential, especially at these times,” she says.
Gonçalo Lobo Pinheiro, a Portuguese-born photojournalist based in Macao documented Ratnam and her work for his entry in The Other Hundred project, an annual photography initiative that celebrates unsung heroes around the world.
This year, the non-profit project is honouring those who have helped others heal during this pandemic – be it hospital frontliners, volunteers or individual acts of kindness.
“Older people are a risk group in this pandemic and I thought the story would be interesting,” says Pinheiro by email to South China Morning Post.
“Louis Mary Sesu Ratnam is the most visible face of a series of caregivers who care for women,” he continues, adding that more than 50 women live at the facility, many dependent on carers. “I believe the oldest woman is 107 years old.”
Founder of The Other Hundred, Hong Kong-based Chandran Nair says lockdown has made capturing moments of healing more challenging – and more important – than ever, according to South China Morning Post.
“Early in the global reaction to COVID-19, frontline health care workers were rightly lauded for facing this common enemy – and in the process, sometimes paying the ultimate price for their acts of service,” Nair says.
“But as nations faced lockdown and entire communities withdrew to their homes, it became clear that there were other acts of service, courage and healing being performed on a daily basis by innumerable people: the unsung heroes who contribute to healing the very societies of which they are a part, during a time of deep social trauma.
“And this is where the beauty lies – these moments of healing happen not only through direct medical care, but through the compassion expressed by delivery workers, truck drivers, cleaners, waste collectors, food sellers, volunteers, teachers, supermarket staff, government workers, community heads, village chiefs, therapists and practitioners of alternative methods of wellness.”
Other submissions include works from Bangladeshi photographer Mohammad Rakibul Hasan, who turned his lens on transgender couple Toma and Tuktuki as they raise awareness of COVID-19 among Dhaka’s transgender community, and Delhi-based photographer Javed Sultan’s series on Doctors on Call, a group of young Indian doctors who provide services to those unable to access medical advice due to the lockdown.
A photo series by Annice Lyn follows Heidy Quah, founder of Refuge for the Refugees, a non-profit organisation that distributes food aid packs among refugee families, migrant workers and low-income citizens in Malaysia.
“Through perseverance of our team and the photographers who are our eyes and ears on the ground, we are determined to build a portfolio that represents this moment in human history in a positive light – to remember not just the deaths, but the lives of people pulling together despite the ugliness of the state of the world, during an event that no one has experienced before,” says Nair.
Submissions for The Other Hundred close on 14 August and the chosen 100 from this year’s initiative will be released in digital format.