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. 

As a Penda intern, I’m so glad for having the chance to participate at some of the projects organised by Girl Impact that Sarah Isaacs has offered to document, since this means being smoothly introduced in an environment so far from what I’m used to and always so full of surprises. And, best part of it, to see the “behind the scenes” of her photography. The way she establishes a connection with the people she’s portraying, the spontaneous simplicity of approaching them and gaining their trust is simply incredible.

On Thursday I was invited to join the project taking place 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. This is a great virtuous circle, where a successful solution leads to an accumulation of positive results.

There is excitement on the Mamas’ faces and you can feel a positive vibe spread all around as you enter the colourful rooms where the lessons take place. They are learning how to write letters on Word documents and even using Excel (my first thought was: I should bring my mum here as well). After introducing ourselves, Sarah started to look for good backgrounds for her pictures and I had the chance to see what was going on with the lessons. Every new task is welcomed by excitement and the women’s progress in just a couple of classes is impressive. I also had a chance to chat with Zandi, the amazing woman who is in charge of coordinating the different Girl Impact projects, who has been writing about gender equality issues. Computer skills will help her raise awareness with a much wider audience.

Sometime we forget the amount of potential hiding, or just sleeping, inside each of us. Being provided with the right tools and possibilities to use them is an incredible step towards personal growth and creating the basis for a future impact on others. With the Mamas being constantly in touch with babies and kids, empowering them with knowledge and self-confidence may be an important loop in this virtuous circle.

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.

 

 

 

All images are by Sarah Isaacs. To see more of her work, visit her website.

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