I’m dedicating this photo to Dinah. She saw it on my computer screen last time she came to clean my house in McG. “What are they doing?” she asked me. I explained that the image shows African migrants holding their phones aloft, looking for an Inexpensive Somalian cell signal by moonlight, on the shores of Dijbouti.
“They’re trying to call their loved ones at home. They have no idea when they will see them again, and this is the only link they have with their relatives.” She looked at it for a while: “I thought they were trying to phone God.”
Today Dinah had a horrible accident. She was riding between her many cleaning jobs and lost her brakes on the steep main road through the village. She hit a bump and landed on her head. Was found unconscious and bleeding. Tonight she is lying in a hospital near Cape Town, a long way from her home. Dinah supports her whole family. Two years ago, her daughter went on a holiday and never returned, abandoning her children to their grandmother’s care. Her husband has a heart condition and can’t work. So 64 year old Dinah cycles her way up and down the roads of McG, earning what she can, holding the family together. From the opposite end of Africa, she understood completely how these men were feeling.
Dinah is a woman of faith. I hope God takes her call.
(“Signal” was taken by National Geographic photographer John Stanmeyer. It won First Prize, Contemporary Issues, Singles: World Press Photo of The Year 2013.)