Georgery has suffered too much. He is scarred for life. But he is a picture of hope. The odds seemed heavily stacked against an 11- year -old South African boy with shocking burns injuries from a house fire and the later unrelated deaths of his mother and sibling twins. Adding to these traumas, as a toddler he was rushed to receive an antidote to a poisonous spider bite. His problems are no way over but thanks to Australia-based freelance photographic couple Morne and Keturah de Klerk he is another symbol of what world responsible tourism and human endeavour can achieve.
These experts behind the lens are focused on more than emotive, spectacular images. They live and work in Adelaide but operate South Africa Photography Tours which not only avoids the tourist hot spots but travels ethically, bolstering local communities. They began this venture in 2010 but it was only last year that Morne, was inspired to track Georgery.
Morne came across embattled Georgery as a photographic student on a holiday assignment project in 2002 that earned him an A + . He had no idea how sadly the minuses had piled up for his subject. Georgery was aged one when in emergency paediatric wards fighting for recovery after being trapped with his mum by flames ignited by candles because of no electricity. That shanty home, barely 3sq metres, is similar to the corrugated iron and reed one he shares now with his farm labourer dad George.
Morne admits he’d long forgotten his pictures of Georgery. ”Ten years on I wanted to find him. I had taken the shots in my home town of Upington in the Northern Cape.” Morne, 32, now with an established international reputation, recalls:“I had only my photo to go on and was heading nowhere until, amazingly, a local newspaper story brought about a dozen responses and I traced him last June. “I found Georgery a bubbly, energetic kid, though, apparently, he doesn’t like school and lands in lots of trouble! He is very poor and needs ongoing treatment. The fingers on one hand have not formed properly.”
Aussie Keturah, 35, from Adelaide, met Morne in England and is also a graduate in education and applied linguistics. She says: “Our photography tours help financially to assist local community groups. We include them on trips, turning the locals where we visit into photographic models. Their organisations are boosted by donations and sponsorships.” Georgery’s cause has become a personal mission for the de Klerks and they have created a fundraising website that features the story and photographs.
As a forerunner to the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa, Keturah joined Morne for three months snapping grass roots soccer there. An exhibition and book of the pictures raised nearly $US600 which was split between two charities. “Keturah and I want to get Georgery involved in a football club as part of how we can help, motivate and provide a support network for him. says Morne.
Take a walk with Georgery from his school to his home. This time-lapse video was shot on the walk that Georgery does twice a day from home to school and back. The walk is between 2 and 3 kilometres one way.
SA Phototours are a logo supporter of World Responsible Tourism Day 2013. Find out about how you can get involved in the world’s biggest industry event for responsible tourism.