Ilizwi Lam is an exhibition of photos that were collected during a Photovoice project conducted among unemployed youth in Nyanga, Cape Town. Between July and August of 2014, participants of a life and work readiness skills programme at Etafeni, a community resource centre for people affected by HIV/AIDS, were given digital cameras and asked to capture things in the community that demand change, represent development, or that are sources of inspiration to the photographer in his/her journey to finding a job. Themes of entrepreneurship and self-reliance as well as the destructive effects of gang violence and alcohol emerge throughout the exhibit’s photographs and equally important accompanying captions.
Photovoice is a community engaged participatory research method that asks participants to represent their environment in a way that is expressible to community outsiders. The goal of Ilizwi Lam is to share the voices and artwork of the brave participating students in a space where people can come to new realizations about the staggering beauty and persistent hardships that characterize life in Cape Town’s surrounding communities. The ultimate message of the photographs is one of inspiration and tangible hope for a life governed by the intrinsic power of the photographer’s voices.