Brooklyn couple documents COVID-19 survivors' stories with goal to make difference
A Brooklyn couple is traveling the country to document the stories of those who survived COVID-19 and sharing the struggles they've overcome and are still dealing with.
When Morgana Wingard and Jacobus Bester lost their jobs during the pandemic, they set out to make a difference.
"We drove from New York, went down the East Coast to Florida, through Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and then we went through New Mexico, Arizona, Utah," explains Wingard, who co-founded COVID-19 Survivor Diaries along with Bester. "Educating people about what it really means to have COVID, how long the recovery is, and then document it for the sake of history."
The idea was sparked from Wingard's work in Liberia back in 2014 when she documented the ebola outbreak.
"It made a huge difference in talking about the outbreak because it changed people's attitudes and therefore their behaviors," Wingard says.
So their hope is to get the same response to COVID-19.
"I wanted to do something where we were able to help share stories and spread awareness. This is not a two-week disease. There are some people who don't know if this is ever going to go away for them," she says.
The couple is seeing patterns in issues survivors are struggling with. For example, their reproductive health.
"Through the interviews that we're doing and sharing these stories, hopefully, that will encourage others to talk about things that might be personal to them that they will then share to help others," Bester says.
In addition to posting survivors' stories on their website and social media pages, they also published a small book and are working on a larger one and a film series as well.
"It's one thing if you hear it from a stranger on TV, it's something else if your sister says it to you. So we're helping these people share their stories and they're sharing them with their communities," Wingard says.