I recently had the opportunity to connect with Marleen Lammers, the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Penda Photo Tours & Penda Trust, a photography based NGO in Cape Town, South Africa. Keep reading to learn more about how Penda is pulling together travel and the arts into meaningful experiences for young people in South Africa.
Liz: Let’s start in traditional Smile Projet fashion. Give me a "Happiness is.."
Marleen: To Penda, it's creating both impact and amazing experiences through photography.
Liz: Tell me about Penda.
Marleen: Penda is a social enterprise; at Penda Photo Tours, we offer photo tours, photography volunteer programs, and photography internships. All our trips and programs allow our participants to improve their photography skills, have an incredible travel experience, and give back to important causes at the same time. At Penda Trust, our nonprofit arm, we offer free professional photography to grassroots nonprofits, and we teach photography to youth and underprivileged South African communities.
Penda was founded by three people with combined backgrounds in photography, tourism, and the nonprofit sector. We saw an opportunity to combine these three elements in an innovative way, and create amazing and uplifting photographic experiences. Our goal is to explore the boundaries of what photography travel can achieve.
Liz: What is the driving force behind what you do?
Marleen: We believe photography has the power to make an impact; both on the person photographing, and on the subject that’s documented. Pictures tell strong stories, and have the potential of raising awareness of important issues. And photography is a wonderful way of discovering the world. During our trips, we venture off the main touristy paths and photograph what really matters. It’s a liberating, enriching, and exciting way of exploring new places.
Liz: What does service mean to you?
Marleen: Matching the right person with the right experience, and allowing the journey to be so smooth that people can fully focus on having the most enjoyable and rewarding experience possible.
Liz: How can people get involved?
Marleen: People can get involved in a few ways:
The primary purpose of Ibali, which means ‘story’ in Xhosa, is to empower young people by teaching them basic photography skills, creating a space for creative expression, and offering ongoing personal mentorship. In addition, our students’ photography has the power to positively impact the broader community by creating awareness of social issues through the eyes of young people. Their images can start conversations that inspire these youths and their community members to bring about solutions to some of the challenges they face. You can contribute to this program by donating here.