I ran a project called Photovoice to help me understand how it’s like to live with asthma and low health literacy in Malaysia through photographs. Through these photographs, the participants were able to document and to reflect the challenges they faced, the socio-cultural stories and how they find the strength to live with asthma. Each photograph has an accompanying caption, put together by the participants themselves, as a way to amplify their voices on the issues that matter to them.
Image Copyright: Hani Salim, 2019 Image Description: Picture of Malaysian shoreline. Below is the caption by the person who described how she find strengths to overcome the adversity of living with asthma through this photograph. ‘My children love the beach. However, I hope I can have the strength of the waves; it has its ups and downs but never ceased to crash the seashore. I pray that I’ll will never give up, no matter how difficult or how breathless. I will live for my children.’ 31-year-old, a woman with asthma and a mother of two children. Image Copyright: Hani Salim, 2019 Image Description: Picture of an inhaler beside a person pillow. Below is the caption by the person who described his relationship with his inhaler to control his symptoms. ‘This is my life companion since I was a kid, my lifesaver. It gave such a relief for me when I had asthma [attack]. Girlfriends come and go, but my pump [inhaler] is faithful to me (laughed)’ 28-year-old, a man with asthma since childhood. Image Copyright: Hani Salim, 2019 Image Description: Picture of a Malaysian version of ice-cream. Below is the caption by the person who describes how she negotiated her identity with asthma in daily life against the socio-cultural norms of the society. ‘A friend bought this for everyone at the office. Food is the love language in our culture, so it’s common for people to bring homemade food and shared with everyone when they’re happy or celebrating something. Sometimes people are not aware of my asthma, that cold food can trigger an attack. It’s tricky to decline this [ice-cream] when I was being offered; people may feel offended. However, I have to explain. I need to explain, so there’s no misunderstanding.’ 38-year-old, a woman with asthma for 10 years. Image Copyright: Hani Salim, 2019 Image Description: Picture of a pet dog, Lily, belonged to a person who was told by the doctor that she couldn’t keep Lily as animal fur may trigger her asthma. Below is the caption by the person who described why she needed Lily in her life. ‘Lily has been with us for 13 years. I just got asthma just five years ago. I want to show that Lily is not related to asthma, not everyone. Pets are not related to asthma, at least not for me. She kisses, hugs, I enjoy these with Lily, even the doctors said, to avoid pets. My kids all grown up. The boys no longer want to be hugged. I wanted to come home from my appointments and be loved – hugs and all (laughed). That’s why I am keeping Lily despite the medical advise.’ 54-year-old, a woman with asthma and a housewife.