An activist working in the development space, Khanyisa Booi is a health communicator and campaign manager. She launched her e-magazine, Eve’s Apple the Mag, which has released six issues since its inception last October.
“I definitely think it was audacity that got me to start a magazine during the pandemic. I thought that it would be hard to break into the magazine industry, but I’m finding that the world is ready to receive and read the magazine,” she says.
Booi’s work in the NGO sector helped to build the networks needed to ensure her magazine would thrive. The magazine hosts a question-and-answer live stream on Wednesdays and the readership is growing thanks to these weekly sessions. “This is also a time when everybody is going online, so there’s a bit of competition for who’s going to see what, but I’m truly excited by some of the big NGOs who have decided to onboard their content in the magazine,” Booi says.
The magazine’s content focuses on sexual and reproductive health rights, and doubles as a repository for practical insight. “Our content is truthful and not complex — if you need it, you can use it,” she affirms.
Booi became a health communicator while working in food gardens for an NPO in Durban. This work in agriculture exposed her to the importance of health communication, which emphasised how struggles intersect. “It’s not possible to do work around agriculture without involving literacy so that people can understand what exists around them and how they can use it. The interest in health communications was realising how interrelated things are,” she says.
As a health communicator, Booi shares insights with community forums, such as how young women living in poverty are susceptible to being in intergenerational relationships. “My beginnings with health communications were in Durban, where I needed to start doing the work in communities around what poverty is, how it’s linked with sexually transmitted infections, linked with teenage pregnancy and linked with HIV, because girls were unable to negotiate safe sex with their partners,” Booi says.
Though volunteering at grassroots level forms part of her daily work, Booi knows that her work also has an impact at government and boardroom levels. “We all know how policy can live well on paper and poorly in terms of implementation,” she says.
Marrying policy and implementation is the foundation of Booi’s work. It represents change with rationale. She believes that the public health sector has much to offer South Africans, but that few know about these offerings. “For the most part, people think of public health as a place where they can never get help, but then public health also thinks of people as irresponsible. Those two things are not speaking to one another and that’s where my health communications really live,” she says.
Booi believes that Women’s Month is meaningful for South African women. “This Women’s Month I want all provinces to have free pads! Menstruators are not just missing out on school because of Covid-19 anymore, it’s because of periods too. I wish someone would say to all the girls they’ve got their sanitary towels,” she says. And more every day, Booi is fighting to be that someone.
It was audacity that got me to start a magazine during a pandemic.