New photo book depicts life in city’s nursing homes during Covid-19 outbreak

Titled “DESVELO關愛 ZEAL,” the new photography book from photojournalist Gonçalo Lobo Pinheiro will launch today at Livraria Portuguesa (Portuguese Bookshop).
This book, the third from the Portuguese author who has been living and working in Macau for the past decade, depicts the life of elderly people living in Macau’s nursing homes in 2020, a particularly complex year due to the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.
“In a totally atypical year, it became a huge challenge to photograph: creating stories in a small town, where – fortunately – there were few cases of Covid-19. However, it was necessary to portray the problem in Macau and [my idea was to] make different stories related to people’s daily lives, after the voluntary confinement we were subjected to in February and March,” Pinheiro said, explaining the idea behind the project.
The album is divided into two sections documenting daily life in two nursing homes in Macau during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Each story contains 15 color photographs, a total of 30 in the album: photographs that were previously published in the newspaper Plataforma.
Pinheiro explained that he has chosen to portray the elderly because “they are one of the most vulnerable groups to the pandemic,” adding that the launch date of the book is also of deep significance to the stories it contains.
“The first story was captured on April 29, 2020, precisely one year before the book’s release date,” Pinheiro said, explaining that the documentary work began the day he visited Our Lady of Mercy Nursing Home, a nursing home run under the Macao Holy House of Mercy Mission, for the first time.
“The home opened its doors to me and I was able to witness how caregivers are, more than ever, dedicated to supporting the elderly, many of them with various disabilities,” the photographer noted.
As for the second section, captured in early May last year, it portrays the life at Asilo de Santa Maria (Holy Mary Asylum), run by Caritas Macau, a non-governmental charitable organization.
“Mother Louis Mary Sesu Ratnam took me on a tour of the asylum, exclusively dedicated to elderly women. Louis Mary told me what is like to help in the home during the pandemic. She explained that caregivers are essential, especially in these times. If it weren’t for the caregivers, these elderly people would be helpless,” Pinheiro noted. He explained that he also highlighted this fact in the report, since “caregiver’s work often goes unnoticed, but it is essential for improving the quality of life of the elderly,” adding that such work helps give the elderly a feeling of peace, and confidence that their lives will not be threatened by the Covid-19.
“The stories you will be able to see [in the book] speak of people, the elderly and their caregivers,” he remarked.
The album that will be available at the book shop is published in three languages: Portuguese, traditional Chinese, and English. The album is published by Ipsis Verbis, and is also partially sponsored by the Banco Nacional Ultramarino and has the institutional support of the Consulate General of Portugal in Macau and Hong Kong.

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