Penda intern Irene Gianotto visits Muizenberg High School in the initial stage of our new project
“We are all excited by the pilot project that we’re about to launch at Muizenberg High School in collaboration with photographer Dave Fisher. Not only because the senior management is very supportive and appreciative when it concerns additional help offered to their students, but mainly because this program can act as a truly catalyst and change the trajectory of their lives.
I am grateful that Regina, our other Penda intern, and I had the opportunity to accompany Dave inside the school: meeting the Photography Club and the other students from the art course was simply inspirational. Impressed by the width of the corridors, the long line of lockers and the group pictures hanging on the walls, it is always exciting and even a bit scary to take the other side of a class, sitting on a school desk facing the eyes and the dreams that only a student of that age can carry with herself.
Dressed up in their school uniforms, listening with incredible attention, it was striking to see the passion these students put in what they do. You could say it from the look in their eyes, the way they were smiling to us and the ‘top student’ pins on their blazers, definitely something to wear proudly.
Despite having left the high school times behind me some years ago, for one moment I felt so little compared to them, and looking back I would have loved to be offered to take part of such a project. And probably the feeling of being smaller is linked to the powerful stories these students carry with themselves almost nonchalantly, even if I believe nothing can be boring when it is coming from a completely new perspective. Although I’m almost done with my education, I feel eager to learn, learn from their way to see the world and eager to see their worlds. That is why I was happy to roll back to the age when you are ready to fight against everything to fix the world. And the good news is that the selected students will have an incredible chance to do it.
During the program managed by Dave and involving other great photographers, six selected students will learn and practice their photographic skills, in a theoretical and a practical way, bringing the subjects of their shots up for a discussion. Last but not least, to raise awareness of these issues, the photographs will be shown in an exhibition.
In the meantime, get ready to open your heart and listen to their story, or ‘Ibali’ in Xhosa, if you were wondering what the project’s name means.”