6. Vendors Have Their Voices Heard

Day: Tuesday, December 9, 2014


In order to prepare for the final meeting on Thursday, a meeting was planned for the mentor group so that they could learn and facilitate PhotoVoice with the vendors. In the meeting they would caption five photos that they chose and then record their captions so that we could create the final movie of PhotoVoice.

Cast of Characters

  • Xolani– Big Issue Vendor Mentor
  • Fikiswa– Big Issue Vendor Mentor
  • Chelsea – Volunteer at Big Issue


Big Issue South Africa offices conference room


Our team was setting up as two of the mentors walked in. Fikiswa and Xolani were ready for the day, but through his salesman smile it could be seen that Xolani was not happy. He told us that his boy was sick and in the hospital. Xolani thought that it may be a food allergy because his stomach was not feeling good and his face was oddly swollen. But Xolani insisted on staying and learning what he needed to learn for the day. We were grateful for his commitment, but we worried for his child and hoped that he would be ok. We waited for thirty minutes for the other mentors to show up, but they did not so we decided to begin the activities.

Earlier last week our team had asked the mentors to pick five pictures that they wanted to be a part of their blog. We used those same pictures for the captioning activity. The worksheet was simple and asked only for the photo name and the caption. This was to make it easier on the vendors so they could find that information and also to make it easier for information to be passed off from the mentors to a potential Big Issue staff member who would have to upload the content. Xolani and Fikiswa were more than happy to complete the worksheets and begin the day. Xolani did take frequent breaks to check up on his child, but we understood the urgency of the matter.

Xolani And Fikiswa Analyzing Their Photos

Xolani And Fikiswa Analyzing Their Photos

After they were done captioning their photos on paper, the mentors went with Ari and made voice recordings explaining the pictures. Fikiswa and Xolani were an amazing pair and quickly were able to complete recording. The voice recordings were then edited to have the photos over them and to shorten some of the pauses between pictures they took. Throughout the editing process Fikiswa and Xolani were present so they could have a say in how the recordings were edited.

Xolani And Fikiswa Testing Out PhotoVoice

Xolani And Fikiswa Testing Out PhotoVoice

Once they were completed the final PhotoVoice for each of them was shown. They were so excited to see their own work and they told us that the other vendors would be equally excited. We then talked about what went right and wrong with the activity and what they thought would be easiest when working with the other vendors. They told us that it would be useful to go over the photos with the vendors and, since there was such a big group, to have each vendor only explain one picture. After a great session, Xolani and Fikiswa left with high hopes for the following meeting to come.

The following video is the final product of the PhotoVoice piece Fikiswa completed.


Ari:  I was very disappointed that only Xolani and Fikiswa showed up today, but I also know that they will be the mentors who will shine for The Big Issue. The commitment and enthusiasm they have is undying and I can see that they really want to be a part of it. They also excelled at the activities and were able to relay back what was happening. Even though Xolani was a bit distracted from the illness in his family they both did exceptionally well! It was great to see how excited they were to teach the PhotoVoice on Thursday and how they were thrilled to be working with us! I’m so excited to see what they do with the skills we have helped them learn.

Gianna: I have mixed emotions about today. Yesterday went very well and I was excited to move onto the next step with our mentors. I was so disappointed only two showed up. I tried to shake my disappointment and work with the vendors that did show up though. I am pleased how the PhotoVoice activity went. It definitely was a little complicated for the mentors, but the final product was awesome. I think it was helpful to have already gone over the photo analysis activity and to have the mentors write what they wanted to say down. They did sound a little nervous, but it is expected. This is definitely something I can see the Big Issue continuing to do. With the mentors examples and guidance, I think the process can go smoothly and the PhotoVoice will be a great addition to the website. I think Xolani and Fikiswa loved the final products too.

Nadjia: The start of the day was a bit disappointing for me because Themba and Lavista had not shown up for the mentor meeting. I was unsure about their dedication to being mentors but it seemed as though they were excited for it, so not having them there was hard. However, it gave us the opportunity to work closely with Fikiswa and Xolani, the two mentors who I could see really bringing this vendor run profile program to the next level. I liked that when Fikiswa and Xolani were writing down what they wanted to say about each photo we left them to their thoughts so that there was less room for distraction. I thought it helped a lot because they were able to think internally about what they wanted to get across in each picture which I can be really helpful. It was hard seeing that Xolani was upset about his son, but he pushed through and finished all the activities of the day. Of course whenever he needed to make a phone call we let him because his mind was visibly elsewhere. Ari did an amazing job of putting the voice recordings with the pictures they had chosen to analyze. It was great to see their faces and how excited they were to hear their voices coming from the computer. Fikiswa was a bit embarrassed but it was really special to see.

 Continue to Scene 7. Graduation Day