As students in the Cape Town study aboard experience, everyone works at a local NGO focused on a specific public health issue. I was an intern at the Women of Worth program, which is part of the Zimele Project in the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, which aims to empower young women ages 19-24 through 12 different empowerment sessions. These empowerment sessions focus on skills to build self esteem and confidence among these women and provide resources on CV writing, different types of contraceptives, and self-defense classes. This program aims to reach 10,000 women within 2 years. As interns, we’ve had various tasks to help in implementing the different sessions and ensuring that material is prepared for the future. In addition, we had the opportunity to work with the facilitators of these sessions, called igniters, and discuss their feedback for the program and host discussion sessions on the content and modifications to material. Our tasks during this internship did vary, as did our workspace.
Our workspace at Phillipi Village.
Our workdays were largely divided between Phillipi Village and the University of Cape Town Medical campus. Phillipi Village is an up-and-coming area located in Phillipi. Phillipi Village is a conglomeration of recycled and repainted storage containers. The atmosphere is very hip and cool and the companies and space are new and relaxed. Some of the companies within Phillipi Village, or PV as we call it, are NGOs but there are also restaurants, schools, and local companies. In addition, part of the space was an old concrete factory and now serves as the backdrop for films and movies. While we were interning, they filmed part of Maze Runner 3 and Our Girl. It was really cool to see how many uses the space had and the spirit of taking old and used spaces and reworking them into new and creative areas. When we were at PV, the interns and I mainly worked with the igniters and attended some sessions during the day. Much of the work was quite creative and we mainly helped in providing feedback on sessions and evaluating how these programs were being implemented.
Another one of our tasks at Philippi Village was engaging in discussion with the igniters on a variety of topics. We would discuss issues such as mental health and gender based violence within the community and what their thoughts were on these issues in South Africa and their local communities. In addition, part of the program included participants’ access to the Powerhouse. The Powerhouse is an area complete with computers, printers, and phones for the participants to ask questions on content and use the space to send out resumes and search for jobs or just do general research. This was a very empowering space and we helped to make sure that management was aware of any changes that were wanted to the space to make it more empowering and uplifting.
The outside of the Powerhouse, which is inside a converted shipping container.
In addition to our days at PV, we also spent some time at Head Office, which was at the University of Cape Town Medical Campus. The medical campus is host to various research projects and different professionals within the field. During these days, we mainly focused on logistical tasks such as changing content, meeting with staff, and creating activities for the future. In addition, we helped with making sure that all participants were registered, even if that meant manually checking the system to make sure that no one had been missed. Working in these two different environments was really great. Our tasks seemed to shift depending on where we were, with more logistics at Head Office and more creative tasks at PV. It was a great way to have some variety within our work day and understand the different components of such a large organization.
Jasmine, Payton and I with our supervisors Farhaanah and Carey on our last day!