Stories from a Cape Town NGO Intern
Stories from a Cape Town NGO Intern
Written by: Irene Gianotto
Photo credits: Irene Gianotto, Sarah Isaacs
Irene Gianotti shares her experience of joining an NGO photography project
As part of her Marketing and Fundraising Internship with Penda Photo Tours and Penda Trust, Italian student Irene Gianotti recently joined a project aimed at raising awareness of a female empowerment program in Cape Town. Here’s how she experienced.
At Penda Trust, we care about raising awareness of important causes through photography. We were recently honoured to have Capetonian photographer Sarah Isaacs volunteer her time to document some of the projects run by Girl Impact. In case you don’t know, this is a non-profit initiative that seeks to support teenage girls and give them a better start to womanhood by not only advancing their knowledge, but by ensuring that boys and men see the value of healthy, educated and empowered local women, especially in the underprivileged communities. Their work focuses on Six Pillars: education, health, safety, early pregnancy, income generation and self-confidence.
As an intern, I was offered the great opportunity to take part in some of these sessions, that means being smoothly introduced in an environment so distant from what I’m used to and always so full of surprises. And, best part of it, to see the “behind the scenes” of Sarah’s photography.
One of the projects I’ve attended takes place every Thursday at the Fikelela orphan and vulnerable care centre. Here, during the lunch breaks, ‘Mamas’ spend their time learning English with the help of the volunteers. However, what happened recently is that seeing them using their laptops, the Mamas asked to being trained to do the same. There is excitement on the Mamas’ faces and you can feel a positive vibe spread all around as you enter these colourful rooms.
The second project is the Buyelekhaya Community Development, built on the premise of traditional Xhosa dance, as a means to educate children and youth, and to provide a safe outlet and environment. Kids are provided basic food every Friday, and engaged in discussions about self-confidence with the Girl Impact volunteers supporting the sessions.
Only few hours out of the office, but so many emotions and incredible stories I’ve heard. I was surprised to see how these people opened their doors and their hearts to me. I’ve listened to one of the Mamas saying that these kids need protection, that doesn’t mean they are weak. “They have big wings, they can fly far away, hopefully in better places.” I would say not only big wings, but also big dreams. Particularly considering how little are some of the girls I had the chance to chat with, while sitting on a tiny plastic chair in Khayelitsha. These girls want to travel the world and do something good, someone who would love to become a Xhosa teacher, someone a police officer.
I remember the recurrent mood coming back from the Volunteer House of the Happy Africa Foundation, my entire body being full of good feelings, overwhelmed by a kind of beauty I’ve enjoyed few times in my life. I can’t help smiling when I think about the kids taking pictures with my camera, and the look of excitement in their eyes. They deserve a bright future and I can feel, with the right tools, they will do great things, hopefully as their aspirations are.
Being a Marketing and Fundraising Intern at Penda Trust is changing my life. The projects are truly inspirational as the people running them, the kids I met were curious to learn, as the Mamas.
I see the world of NGOs as a kind of Pandora’s box: once open, you can’t stay the same, to get involved in the amazing stories it enshrines is inevitable. I’m learning about the world, I’m learning about myself, what makes me happy and how I want to be in my future. I feel again as one of these little girls with big dreams.
Interested in doing an NGO internship in Cape Town? Find out more about joining Penda for a marketing internship, a fundraising internship, or a content writing internship.