“Self-esteem means loving yourself, loving other people next to you and also loving your pets,” according to Xabiso Mnyamana. He is one of the Grahamstown youngsters involved in the ongoing Boost photography initiative run by Rhodes University third-year photojournalism students. Boost aims to improve the self-esteem of Grahamstown’s youth by letting them represent themselves and their passions through photography. Mia van der Merwe took the pictures.
To prove to his community that “animals are a gift from God”, CM Vellem High School pupil Xabiso Mnyamana got involved in the Boost project to help teach others about pet care.
According to the Pet Care Trust, pets encourage nurturing, teach responsibility and help build self esteem. Helping to take care of a pet gives a child a sense of pride and accomplishment, especially if the animal is able to return the affection.
Participants learned about pet care and animal cruelty in a variety of ways. They took field trips to the Grahamstown SPCA, where Inspector Maloli Dingana shared his knowledge and stories.
“Due to project BOOST, I’ve been more aware of the SPCA and their work these last couple of weeks,” Tandia said. The group also produced posters with tips for dog owners.
A series of portraits were taken of the children and their pets, which were exhibited in Eden Grove at Rhodes University on the 18th of October. Xabiso saw this as an opportunity to set an example on how to care for animals. “I want people to see I’m just a kid and I am just growing up”, he says as he pats Cope on her head. “I want grown-ups to realise that if a young boy can do this, why can’t they?”