November is an important month for The Heart of a Woman Project, a women’s mobile photography and digital literacy initiative. It is the anniversary month of the project in South Africa (#thoawSA) at eKhaya eKasi Art & Education Centre, a non-profit organization in Khayelitsha, a township about 30 minutes from Cape Town’s CBD.

thoawSA women at Table Mountain
thoawSA women at Table Mountain

It has been three years. It hasn’t been easy, and at times not much has been happening with thoawSA mostly due to lack of funding, but we are still here. We are still here.

ONE, an advocacy organization to end extreme poverty and preventable disease wrote ‘How Internet access could help lift women and girls out of poverty and released the report ‘Making the Connection: How the Internet can help end extreme poverty‘. 

ONE calls for an action plan to connect 350 million women and girls in the poorest countries by 2020, resulting in the spin-off benefits for everyone.

In the report, they say “without connecting these women and girls to the internet, barriers for women to access education, lifesaving health information, and job opportunities will continue to perpetuate dire gender inequalities in these regions.”

It is something I have long believed and one of the main reasons I founded The Heart of a Woman Project.

I still believe in what we accomplished three years ago. 

I still fully support the project in Khayelitsha in whatever way I can. 

I still believe that access to the Internet and digital literacy should be an opportunity for all and not a luxury.  

 

women learning computer skills in khayelitsha
Nwabisa looks on as 3 participants learn computer skills.

Nwabisa Ndongeni (thoawSA project coordinator and founding member) and I communicate on an almost daily basis. I still mentor her using the Internet and communication technologies so that she can not only teach others in the community when possible so that she is armed with skills. She’s in South Africa, and I’m in Canada.

She has generated some income by offering her digital literacy and mobile photography skills for hire to individuals and small businesses in Khayelitsha and Cape Town needing assistance to set up their smartphones, with social media or to promote their work.

Thinking back to those first days in 2013 and highlights of the last three years, I’ve realized that much has been accomplished and those highlights are significant.

Because of THOAW, the leaders and some of the women trained in the program at eKhaya eKasi have iPhones and know how to use them to document the tourist visits, events and products made on site. 

Because of THOAW and our sponsorship partners like Reno Roofs of Cape Town, they have access to the Internet

Because of THOAW they know how to share their photos on social media and do so in their words 

Because of THOAW, income generation through postcard and greeting card sales, photo-based campaigns and other opportunities have been made possible

mobile photography work displayed in khayelitsha
A collage of images taken by the ladies during their 1st year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highlights

I am super proud of Nwabisa and in the last three years, here is what she has accomplished:

  • She documents tourist visits and events at eKhaya eKasi and daily life in Khayelitsha and shares photos on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
  • She has been able to teach social media and mobile photography to others in the community through the program.
  • She has been interviewed on radio twice
  • She was chosen as a ‘Mandela Monday’ candidate on the nation-wide South African television morning show Expresso for her work of teaching others.
  • She was interviewed by a documentary film crew.
  • Her mobile photos were published in Tradgard magazine in Sweden.

Some of what I can remember, phew!

To see more of Nwabisa’s photos, check her out on Instagram. 

In case you missed it: 

In February 2017, I return to Khayelitsha, South Africa for more in-person workshops and projects. I am simply a photographer with an idea, not afraid of digging in and working hard to help those in need. If I have skills that I can pass on, why not. If you have fundraising, marketing or PR skills and want to volunteer, join us?

We make do with the small amount of funds that I can contribute that goes towards monthly data Internet and helps Nwabisa with some income. As mentioned there have been some opportunities that have come along that has put funds in Nwabisa’s hands. We are grateful for that.

If you believe in what we have achieved and are still trying to accomplish, that Internet and access should not be a luxury and in the ‘hand up, not hand out’ model of empowerment, please consider a one-time donation or volunteering your time.

Maybe you can help us write grants or sponsorships proposals? Perhaps you work for a corporation looking for sponsorship opportunities, want to donate an iPhone or Aeroplan miles, or maybe you just want to help get the word out or send a note of encouragement? Whatever way you can help, we truly appreciate it.

— Andrea, founder and Director

 

How you can help make a difference today:

Other ways you can help: 

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

Where to Buy in South Africa: 

  • eKhaya eKasi Art & Education Centre in Khayelitsha, South Africa
  • The Backpack Community Shop in Cape Town, South Africa (postcards only)

Please feel free to explore this site and CONNECT with Andrea.