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 it.
Penda Trust cares about raising awareness of important causes through photography. Recently, Capetonian photographer Sarah Isaacs volunteered her time to document some 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. Not only do they advance their knowledge but they also ensure that boys and men see the value of educated and empowered women. Their work focuses on Six Pillars: education, health, safety, early pregnancy, income, and self-confidence.
As an intern, I took part in some of these sessions, by exploring a new environment so distant from what I’m used to. The best part of it, I saw the “behind the scenes” of Sarah’s photography!
One of the projects I attended takes place every Thursday at the Fikelela Orphan and Vulnerable Care Centre. During the lunch breaks, ‘mamas’ learn English with the help of volunteers. However, recently the Mamas noticed the volunteers using their laptops and asked to be trained to do the same. They are excited, and you can feel a positive vibe spread all around in these colorful rooms.
The second project is the Buyelekhaya Community Development, built on the premise of traditional Xhosa dance. It is a means to educate children and youth and to provide a safe outlet and environment. Kids receive basic food every Friday and engage in discussions about self-confidence with the Girl Impact volunteers.
I only left the office for a few hours but I heard many incredible stories and emotions. I was surprised to see how they opened their doors and hearts to me. One of the Mamas said that the kids need protection, that doesn’t mean they are weak. “They have big wings, they can fly far away, hopefully to better places.” I would say they don’t just have big wings; they also have big dreams. Especially considering how little some of the girls are I chatted with. These girls want to travel the world and do good, some of them wanting to become a Xhosa teacher, some a police officer.
I remember coming back from the Volunteer House of the Happy Africa Foundation, my entire body full of good feelings. There was a feeling of beauty I’ve experienced very few times in my life. I can’t help but smile when I think about the kids taking pictures with my camera, and their excitement. They deserve a bright future and I can feel that they will do great things, with the right tools.
This internship is changing my life. The projects are as inspirational as the people who run them, the kids were curious to learn, just like the Mamas. I see the world of NGOs as a Pandora’s box. Once open, you cannot stay the same. To get involved in the amazing stories it enshrines is inevitable. I am learning about the world, myself, what makes me happy, and how I want to be in my future. I feel again like 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.