In November 2014 my family (my husband and 9 yo & 4yo sons) and I travelled to Cape Town, South Africa to join the ladies in celebrating the 1st anniversary of  The Heart of a Woman Project at eKhaya eKasi Art & Education Centre in Khayelitsha, South Africa.

FamilyNov14CT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the last year, the ladies have worked to improve their photography and social media skills. They have engaged with supporters from around the world on social media and have gone on numerous photo walks to capture Township life as seen through their eyes and hearts. They have also participated in weekly photo challenges that I have given them. I have seen improvement and growth not only in photography, mobile technology, computer skills and social media, but in soft skills such as communication, public speaking, adaptability, problem solving, teamwork and they have gained confidence.

I’ve continued to offer my support and mentorship and thanks to technology and a new cell tower in close proximity to eKhaya eKasi, I am able to do so regularly from my home in Toronto, Canada with video calls and text based chats. In October, we had our 1st thoawSA (The Heart of a Woman Project South Africa) google hangout with supporters from Canada, USA and the UK. In May 2014, I returned to Khayelitsha and launched phase 2 and continued with more workshops in computer skills and social media.  Though I am available when needed, they have mostly been working and developing on their own. We hope to have other mentors join us in 2015 whether in person at the centre or through distance learning.

In October, the project welcomed 3 new members. Founding member Nwabisa Ndongeni has been teaching the 3 new participants and I couldn’t be more proud of her. It has been incredible to know that the project is moving forward in this way, it is exactly what I had hoped for when I dreamed up this idea.

On November 22, 2014 we celebrated the project’s 1st anniversary with an exhibition and a cultural celebration.  Xolani Maseko of Uthando South Africa was the master of ceremonies and 7 of the original 9 participants and the 3 newest members were in attendance for the occasion. Eza Kwantu Cultural Group opened the celebration with drumming, singing and dancing and Black Pot Entertainment Group performed with their beautiful voices. Both groups returned to perform a few more times.

A collage of images taken by the ladies during their 1st year.
A collage of images taken by the ladies during their 1st year on display at eKhaya eKasi. Photo by Andrea Rees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Images on display at eKhaya eKasi during the 1st anniversary exhibition.
Images of the women’s work on display at eKhaya eKasi during the 1st anniversary exhibition. Photo by Andrea Rees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the members of thoawSA, November 2014.
Some of the members of thoawSA, November 2014. Photo by Andrea Rees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Founding member Nwabisa looks on as the 3 new participants, Amanda, Thando & Pelisa learn how to transfer photos to a computer.
Founding member Nwabisa looks on as the 3 new participants, Amanda, Thando & Pelisa learn how to transfer photos to a computer. Photo by Andrea Rees | November 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The days following the exhibition, I offered workshops in photography, social media and computer skills and enjoyed a photo walk with the women in Mfuleni.

Pelisa photographing a childcare centre, called a creche, in Mfuleni. Photo by Andrea Rees.
Pelisa photographing a childcare centre, called a creche, in Mfuleni. Photo by Andrea Rees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Thando Duba
Photo by Thando Duba taken during the photo walk in Mfuleni, November 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some of the women’s photos over the last year as well as some of my favourite moments at the celebration, in video.

Photo by Busisiwe Dalingozi
Photo by Busisiwe Dalingozi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Nwabisa Ndongeni
Photo by Nwabisa Ndongeni

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Retsepile Tom
Photo by Retsepile Tom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Esther Mahlasela
Photo by Esther Mahlasela

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Veliswa Wowo, iPhone 4s
Photo by Veliswa Wowo, iPhone 4s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika

Those in attendance joined in to sing the South Africa national anthem. I proudly joined in on the first 4 lines singing the anthem in isiXhosa and Zulu and was able to sing a bit of the English part that I knew.

Nontsokolo

A song about Poverty in IsiXhosa. Sung by the Eza Kwantu Cultural Group.

Translated to English:

Her name is poverty. She grew up in poverty. She knows poverty. My name is poverty. I grew up in poverty. I know poverty. Growing up without a home. Eating hot and cold. Begging and pleading. Cause I am poverty. I know your story. The poverty which you’ve come from. And I know your pain. Cause I am poverty.

This amazing celebration and inaugural year would not have happened without all our supporters as well as mobile photography and travel blogger/writer communities. Thank you to all those that have donated iPhones or cash, spread the word on social media, wrote blogs and articles, gave me a platform to write articles (Travel Massive, Mobiography, Grryo),  wrote articles about us (Marie Claire Brazil, Matador Network, The Big Issue, Metro – see media below), hosted badges & widgets and engaged with us on social media, so to all of you, a huge thank you.

A heartfelt word of thanks for the continued support of the program by wonderful people and businesses such as Reno Roofs, The Backpack and Uthando in Cape Town, South Africa, 6dVision in Toronto, Canada, Mary Chong Graphic Design and Meadowvale Minuteman Press in Mississauga, Canada, Richards Imaging, Vado Via and Art Aids Art in America and Darren Richards, Leslee Moore, Wynford Rees, Esther Hayoun and Christian Henry.  A special thank you to Lulama Sihlabeni, Nwabisa Ndongeni, Xolani Maseko, Blackpot Entertainment Group and Eza Kwantu Cultural Group for your part in this momentous occasion.

It was a special and emotional day for me and I am proud of all the women. I wish nothing but continued growth and much success. Year 2 will focus on the business aspects of this project and it is our hope that the wonderful photographic images produced by this project reaches all corners of the world through visits to eKhaya eKasi and via local and global vendors.

To join the conversation and follow the project on Instagram and Twitter, search for #thoawSA where you can connect with myself and each of the participants personally.

— Andrea

 

How YOU Can Help Make a Difference Today: 

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THOAW is committed to providing on-going support, mentorship, guidance and education to help the women on their path to sustainability.

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