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The Perina Ngambu Portrait

Perina Ngambu
Artist: Taf [Tafadzwa Mukwashi]
Oil on canvas
356mm x 305mm

Perina Ngambu is the woman in the 25th portrait by the artist Taf [Tafadzwa Mukwashi] in Facing a Century. Hers is a textured, oil on box canvas, classic grisaille painting in a paynes grey monochrome.

Perina Ngambu and her husband moved from the Eastern Cape to Cape Town in 2002 with the dream of gaining better employment and living a better life. However, for many years, they both failed to find jobs that paid well enough for them to look after their two deaf children.

Perina became a vendor of The Big Issue South Africa in 2009. The income she has earned in the last three years from selling this magazine has helped her to provide for her family whilst still being able to care for her two children. She is also learning sign language through Sled (Sign Language and Education Development) and she hopes to become an interpreter for the deaf one day.

The Big Issue is a non-profit NGO and Public Benefit Organization and it publishes its well-known and much-loved magazine every 21 days. The Big Issue has recognized that some of the most important needs of marginalized adults are employment and dignity. Through its vendor sales operation in Cape Town (and also in Johannesburg), they provide vendors with an immediate income. This is only a beginning – The Big Issue‘s Social Development Programme provides vendors with vocational, life and business skills training as well guidance counselling. The strategy is to have each vendor eventually move on from the programme as an empowered individual with legitimate and sustainable employment outside of The Big Issue.

The Big Issue is also BIG on Gender Advocacy. It has the highest proportion of female vendors of any of the International Network of Street Papers member publications. With a focus on ensuring that women have equal access to services and resources as well as equal opportunities within their developmental programmes, women just like Perina are being equipped to achieve financial independence.

Perina Ngambu embodies the immeasurable strength and potential that African women and women across the globe all possess. Thank you, Perina, for lending your face to the Journey!
[Many thanks and acknowledgements to Shakes Dwangu and The Big Issue!]

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