Reflections of a Fundraising and Marketing Intern in Cape Town

Reflections of a Fundraising and Marketing Intern in Cape Town

Written by: Irene Gianotto

Cape Town intern Irene Gianotto looks back on her experience with Penda

I remember making up my mind about the opportunity that was offered to me, to become part of the cosy family of Penda Tours and Trust as a Marketing and Fundraising Intern in Cape Town, as something spontaneously quick. No second thoughts, no doubts: I wanted to book my flight and dive into this new adventure.

After Brazil now an Intern in Cape Town

It’s hard to say if I was really ready or not; I had just got back from a 6 months’ academic experience in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and my heart was still full of memories, my head spinning around inebriated by the colours and the sounds of the city. I knew I would have started this journey making continuous comparison with the previous one, not sure if I wanted to ascertain that this could be as much amazing. The kind of judgments you do when you start dating someone after the end of a long love story.
Still, I was eager to discover more about developing countries, and this time I was looking for a volunteer experience, I wanted to get my hands dirty and see what I could do after years of studying. Somehow, I felt like it was time for me to give something back for all the beauty I was experiencing. I wanted to work with people and make an impact, or at least be part of a NGO able to do it.

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The beginning was slow and a bit tough, those are cities of contrasts who ask to be embraced and forgiven multiple times, but living again in a place nestled between the ocean and the mountains made me feel at home quite soon. The weeks started to fly, and once more I was impressed by the ability of the human mind to adapt to different places and people, to create a new routine from scratch, and become rapidly attached to it.

Incredible women in Cape Town

I fell in love with my job, and now I can see there was some kind of fil rouge (should I say pink?) connecting all my experiences. I’ve met so many incredible women from whom I was grateful to learn: my beautiful supervisor Marleen, the volunteers from The Happy Africa Foundation, Capetonian photographer Sarah Isaacs, all the girls and Mamas involved in the female empowerment projects, the ladies sharing the desk and the Cape Town Loft with me. I found myself silently following them, on tiptoes, happy to have the chance to take a close look at them, at their lives, dreams and aspirations. I’ve gently tried to capture as much as I could from their words, their shared thoughts, their way to look at the world. I’ve started dreaming again about a better place to live in, reflecting on humanity and all its shades, suddenly realizing this time my eyes were wide open, I was not dreaming anymore. It was my chance do to something good.

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I’ve met incredible people inside and outside the office. Moving out from your own country allows you to get lost and start travelling inside yourself. You may have to question everything you’ve taken for granted so far. And you know so many things are going to change as you go back. This is not always an easy journey, but definitely worth to take. Especially if you find good company along the way.

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In the right place at the right moment

During my experience in Cape Town, I’ve hugged lots of beautiful human beings, drank coffee with the kindest lady in Khayelitsha, travelled under the hottest sun and the countless stars, got my feet wet in crystal waters, cried and laughed until I had tears in my eyes. I’ve seen the Milky Way coming out while sitting on a stone floating in the ocean, the stars standing out against a stark black sky. Every sunrise and sunset, I was falling more and more in love with the shades of the African sky turning orange and purple. I felt small, lucky and so grown up, at the same time. Proud of myself and of what I was doing. Felt in the right place, at the right moment.

Once a friend of mine told me the African sky is different from the one I see above the greyish buildings of Milan. It forces you to ask yourself who are you, who do you want to be, what is your mission on this planet. It looks deeper and wider. Now I know it’s true.

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