Girl Impact: Buyelekhaya
At Penda Trust, we seek to raise awareness on important causes through photography. We were honoured to have Cape Town photographer Sarah Isaacs volunteer her time to document a female empowerment program one of Cape Town’s underprivileged communities – with a powerful series of portraits as a result. Our intern Irene Gianotto joined Sarah on one of these projects at Buyelekhaya Community Development.
Little girls have big dreams. While Sarah Isaacs was photographing the girls in Khayelitsha and we were waiting for the session to start, I had some time to sit on a tiny plastic chair and chat with a few of them. Someone was different from the last time I had the chance to take part in the project; the long shiny braids were gone but their big smile was still there. Asking them to describe themselves to me, I realized how pure kids are; such an untouched beauty, even when she is living in a risky environment that exposes her to hard realities.
Buyelekhaya Community Development is a traditional Xhosa dance group, which serves as a safe creative outlet for young girls. Children are provided with basic food, fruit and peanut butter sandwiches, once a week, when the Girl Impact volunteers support sessions. This time we were talking about good and bad behaviour, and how to stand up from an embarrassing situation. These girls know what they want, they dream big, as any child should do. They want to travel the world; to see more than the township they are growing up in. They want to help other people, they dream of becoming teachers, police officers and doctors. Maybe it’s only a peculiarity of their age, but it is still striking and inspiring to listen and take notes of this type of desires.
I do believe that little girls with dreams become women with vision.
The Girl Impact is a nonprofit initiative that seeks to support teenage girls and give them a better start to womanhood by not only advancing their knowledge, but by ensuring the boys and men in their community see the value of healthy, educated and empowered local women. Their goal is to see young women and better informed young men, working together to close the huge gender equality gap. The program focuses their work on the ‘Six Pillars of Girl Impact’; education, health, safety, early pregnancy, income generation and self-confidence. For more information on – or to donate to – the Girl Impact project, have a look here.