- Tattoo parlour Soweto Ink is covering people's self-harm scars with tattoos.
- Owners Ndumiso Ramate and Sibusiso Dlamini started the campaign in October.
- Customers were able to get their cover-ups for free during the campaign.
Thirty-four-year-old Ndumiso Ramate and his business partner Sibusisio Dlamini took their craft to the next level after starting an initiative to support people struggling with their mental health.
The duo own Soweto Ink, a tattoo shop situated in the heart of the historic township.
In October, they pledged to offer free tattoos to people who wanted to cover-up self-harm or other scars during Mental Health Awareness month.
"The feedback we've received has been amazing, we had a lot of people who came through wanting assistance and sharing their stories. Unfortunately we couldn't help everybody, but we got a lot of positive feedback from the ones we did help."
Ramate told News24 that their parlour opened its doors to at least 50 customers during their campaign last year.
One of their customers told News24 that her new tattoo had helped her get her power back. Puseletso Setlhabi travelled for more than four hours from Limpopo to Soweto to get her scars covered with ink.
"I always resorted to cutting myself instead of facing my fears or what I was going through," said Sethlabi.
She said her new tattoos were a representation of her journey. Her tattoo includes roses and daisies – a symbol of blooming and coming back to life, she said. The tattoo also has a timepiece that represents the time it's taken Sethlabi to heal from her scars.
"There is nothing more powerful than covering up a harsh ordeal with a beautiful piece of art that resonates deep with that person's journey," said Ramate.
Soweto Ink partnered with the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) to assist their clients with counselling and provide mental health support for those dealing with depression and anxiety.
"Even though we invited people to come through and share their journey with us, it is also important to note that we are not professionals in that field, and this is why we were able to partner up with SADAG so that help is right at their doorstep," said Ramate.
The campaign is still ongoing and will resume in October 2021.