Mary’s Children

Estonian photographer Angelika Kollin, currently in Tampa, USA, is a passionate artist dedicated to exploring human connections through her work. Her photography is characterized by honesty and emotional depth, reflecting a commitment to understanding human loneliness, suffering, and the role of spiritual practice.

Angelika’s ongoing project, “Mary’s Children,” pays homage to individuals demonstrating strength in challenging circumstances. In a society fixated on fame, these unsung heroes, Everyday Saints, embody true heroism and strength, surpassing self-proclaimed spiritual leaders. Unfortunately, their stories often go untold amidst mainstream media noise. Angelika aims to bring attention to these extraordinary individuals, affirming the boundless capacity for growth and courage within each of us.

In South Africa, Zikhona, the youngest aunt, became the sole provider for two kids after little Paru lost his mom to domestic violence. Despite facing challenges from a fire at two months old, Paru requires extensive care. Zikhona’s inspiring act of love and courage, putting her dreams on hold for his well-being, reflects the true essence of humanity.
Three years ago, Valerie tragically lost her daughter to domestic violence, plunging her into deep grief. About a year and a half ago, she courageously opened a small tea stand with unique blends and local artists’ products. The modest establishment became a haven for local young adults seeking belonging. Affectionately called “Hippie Mama,” Valerie offers comfort and support, turning her tragedy into a meaningful refuge for those facing difficult times. Despite her daily pain, she creates solace and love for others in need.

Since a young age, Cynthia, born deaf and non-verbal, faced tough challenges due to being different. Despite harsh bullying, and against the disagreement of her family and community, she held onto her dream of becoming a mother. A few years ago, her daughter was born, and she named her Buhle, “Beautiful” in Xhosa.

After losing his wife Gloria, whom he shared 30 years of companionship and herbalism practices with, 56-year-old Christopher Samuel Braaf redirected his love and time to help his daughter Selin raise her two young children. Little Chrissy, 4 years old, spends his days with his wise grandfather, going on daily rides to gather herbs and spring water in the mountains before sunrise. They spend afternoons sorting herbs and making ointments, building a deep and lasting bond between grandfather and grandson, and giving Christopher’s life new meaning and joy.
Mary, a 32-year-old single mother, left Malawi in 2013 for a better life in South Africa. Reselling secondhand clothes in the township, she has faced financial struggles, unable to see her older kids for ten years. Mary remains hopeful as her son Lenox, aged six, will start school next February. She looks forward to learning to read alongside him.
Despite facing a life-altering fire at six months old, Lethu, now 19, emerged resilient after enduring reconstructive surgeries and overcoming bullying. During his teenage years, he embraced his uniqueness, cultivating self-confidence and inner beauty. Determined to inspire others, Lethu recently launched his fashion brand, “Missteaks,” featuring t-shirts that symbolize empowerment and his journey of overcoming limitations. Lethu urges everyone to embrace their true selves, as he believes self-love is key.

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