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Whether you are volunteering for 10 days, 1 month or more – you will have an unforgettable experience where you’ll get to know another culture, live new adventures and meet amazing people!

My very first morning in Moshi was dedicated to Induction, ensuring I and other volunteers would find our bearings and making sure all our questions are answered. Once you are a bit more familiar with everything – you’ve had a tour of the house, you’ve got your Tanzanian SIM card, exchanged your money for Tanzanian Shillings and have had a good lunchtime meal (prepared by our awesome chefs Joeli and Tuma) – it’s time to head onto project!

As a Girl Impact volunteer, I spend my mornings from Monday to Thursday teaching Intermediate and Advanced English Classes in the community. I would always be supported by a project coordinator who spoke Swahili to ensure the lesson would go as smooth as possible! During classes, on top of essential skills such as grammar, reading, writing and speaking we discuss important topics such as sickness, diseases and prevention, or writing a CV, passing a job interview and speaking in front of an audience. I’ve learned that it’s important to make the class as interactive and fun as possible so everyone can participate. If you’re lucky enough, at the end of the class, you may be able to see a Maasai jumping session from our Maasai students to show their thanks and happiness.

Friday morning is dedicated to our female entrepreneur group ‘WaKiPa’, where we offer support with their handicraft and business ideas. We always have a fun session teaching English too, to help them sell their products!

Monday to Wednesday afternoon is focused on Girl Impact workshops, where I either help facilitate workshops on Health topics /Child Rights and Abuse at the local School for the Deaf, the village primary school or with a Tailors Womens’ group.

To ensure that we have all material ready and deliver meaningful sessions, our Thursday afternoons are spent preparing the following week’s lessons. Usually with hot drinks & biscuits!

As everything cannot just be work, there is plenty of time for fun activities and tours. So far, I have done a 6Rafiki Walking Tour in Msaranga Village (the community where we teach), visited the biggest town in Kilimanjaro (Arusha), did a 1 day hike up Mt. Kilimanjaro (more courageous volunteers did the 6 days hike to the top – I am not that brave!), hiked in Marangu village and swam in the Hot Springs. For the rest of my stay, I am going on a safari to Tarangire, Lake Manyara, and Ngorongoro Crater and planning on going for a weekend in Zanzibar!

Awesome food is always provided at the volunteer house where you’ll be able to taste typical Tanzanian gastronomy! If you fancy a night out, the city of Moshi is just 15 minutes away by car or by Dala Dala (the local bus which you should at least try once!). The house is very secure as our Maasai security guards Mika & Matayo are always around.

The weeks are going very fast and punctuated by power cuts every now and then! So far I am having a blast and trying to improve my Swahili skills.

– Abegue Oyono –

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Interview Lydia Dube

Did you know that one third of Zambian girls will drop out of school by age 13? Or that due to many factors including lack of sexual education, Zambian girls are more than twice as likely to contract HIV than boys? There are endless statistics to show why gender empowerment projects such as The Girl Impact are so necessary. The numbers are powerful, but none of them capture the importance of our cause quite like speaking to the girls themselves. We sat down to speak with Lydia Dube, one of our outstanding grade 5 students who has been in the Girl Impact program since the very beginning or, as she put it, ‘’way way back when I was in grade 4’’!

Here’s what she had to say about The Girl Impact:

Lydia, you’ve been in The Girl Impact program for nearly 2 years! Why do you choose to come to Girls Group every week?

When I don’t know something or when my school or community doesn’t teach me something, Girl Impact can teach us! Like when we need to learn about our periods you give us pads so that we can stay in school and have a better future!

What is your favorite thing that we do in Girl Impact?

I like when we learn about the future! We were asked what we want to be when we grow up and some of us said teachers, some said doctors, some said pilots. Girl Impact taught us the way we can become those things! One time we got to dress up as the thing we want to be and I got to pretend to be a bank manager and I liked that. It made me happy for the future!

What have you learned from Girl Impact?

I’ve learned self-esteem. Self-Esteem is the way you feel about yourself in your heart.

And how do you feel about yourself?

Comfortable! And I know that I am smart and also that I am precious!

We also learned to love each other and be kind to others. Most girls hit others and shout at others but us, we are nice to each other!

Why do you think it’s important for girls to be empowered?

Because when girls are teenagers they must study hard and finish school so that they can go to university and be what they want to be when they grow up. That way they can do the good things they are supposed to do. Some people tell girls that they can’t go to school, but I say no you should still go and be strong and empowered to finish school.

How has Girl Impact helped you?

Before I didn’t know how to speak English and now I know how to chat in English to others. We also have learned to protect ourselves from harmful things like pregnancy.

If you weren’t in the Girl Impact program, how do you think your life would be different?

I wouldn’t know how to read or speak English. I would get to grade 8 and 9 and still not know how to speak or what to do during my period. But I know those things now.

After our interview with Lydia wrapped up, she skipped off to play with the other girls, her tight-knit group of friends from Girl Impact. It’s amazing to see how this program has helped each of them blossom into strong and empowered young women, each with their own unique personalities and opinions that they show off with pride.

These girls are beating the statistics! They are healthy, they are still in school, and they are DETERMINED to create a bright future for themselves and their communities. But don’t just take it from us, come see for yourself!

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My experience working with the girl impact

For the last one year and five months I have worked with The Girl Impact. It’s been so incredible and the girls are a big part of that. I really enjoy the lessons we teach them. It is always a fun time each time we meet with the girls. When we just started The Girl Impact in Livingstone, it was different to me than it is now because most of the things were new to me and I was still learning the behaviour of the girls. Most especially on the part of understanding, you find that each child has her own behaviour that you have to learn. It’s always hard to change one’s life style and I found that some of the girls had different behaviour stemming from issues at home.

Now that I have gotten to know and love the girls I am able to understand them better and I find that they listen to me very well. This makes me enjoy my work very much! I also enjoy working with the volunteers. Now that I have learnt everything about my work, I am really enjoying myself. My work has become easy to me because I know how to work with all people, volunteers from around the world and the girls from communities here in Livingstone. I am able to interact with every volunteer who comes for the girl impact. I have also learnt that teamwork is important. If you work alone in life you cannot succeed. I say so because I have seen how hard it is working alone. For example, farming. If I was working alone at the girl impact farm I would not have made it!

Its hard work, but the teamwork together between the volunteers and the girls made it amazing. With girl power we have made it so good. A very big thank you for all the work from African Impact volunteers during the girl impact lessons, it wouldn’t be the same without you. You all are doing a wonderful job and it has been an amazing experience for me.

 

By Audrey, community liaison

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My experience with The Girl Impact project

Whilst researching into different international volunteer programs I noticed that none focused on gender inequality, until I came across Girl Impact. When you hear facts such as one in three girls between the ages of 13-24 have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lives or that 1 in 10 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa miss school during their menstrual cycle, it makes you stop and think, aren’t we in the year 2017? Have we not come far enough that these issues are long distant memories, scars on humanity’s history. Evidently not. What attracted me to The Girl Impact project more than anything was that it clearly understood  that women’s issues are everybody’s issues. It is vital that young men and boys are educated about the necessity to empower women within our communities. Empowerment is the “hot topic” of my time volunteering. Empowering the children and young people I have worked with but also being empowered to make a difference, to help run/organise different workshops and activities. Just to be able to see lives so very different from my own was an incredible experience.

The first time I drove into a township in Cape Town was a hot Tuesday afternoon, after completing a morning induction where my imagination had, somewhat, ran away with me. Thinking back to the movies, television adverts and news segments shown back in England, various thoughts flashed through my mind of children crying in the streets, hungry, alone and orphaned. Mothers looking deflated, about to give up on any hope that their lives or their children’s lives were going to get better. As we drove closer to Khayelitsha I suddenly grew nervous of safety, would the bus get attacked when we stopped? When I got out would I be taken by some stranger? Looking back all these worries and expectations seem incredibly silly. Getting off the bus to Sonwabile, an after school club for some of the local children, no where did I see crying, starved child, indeed I saw the exact opposite, nothing but smiling, excited faces. The tiny building where the after school club takes place was simple, one room painted with orange walls (it goes further back with a few other rooms, a bathroom and a kitchen however, I did not venture further back much) upon which there are posters with the South African national anthem, the days of the week and months of the year in English and Xhosa. Essentially, a classroom you would get anywhere in the world. More excited children came running in as the session went on and my nerves eased. The activity of the day was an acrostic poem about a special person in their lives. Many had chosen their mothers, some their sisters but overwhelmingly the poems were about women. It always amazes me how essential women are to a community, many of these children only see positive female role models, yet inequality still prevails. What is it that is holding women back? Outdated gender roles or perhaps violence against women?

One group of young girls that refused to be held back are the dancers of Buyulekhaya. Girls aged between 12-16 with some amazing moves and even more amazing views of the world. Running a workshop  on role models for teenagers on a Friday afternoon is always risky however, the girls of Buyulekhaya were incredibly responsive. When asked how she would like to be a role model to the community, one girl’s response was that she wanted to tackle teenage pregnancy. I was simply blown away by the honesty and courage of her answer. Indeed, each of the girls had dreams, not only of being role models within their community but aspirations that stretched beyond the stereotypes so often associated with girls in poverty. Some wanted to be business women, singers, doctors. It’s incredible to think that in the midst of Khayelitsha a group of girls are determined to fight the gender roles they been given.

Challenging stereotypes is difficult, at some point we have all had to toss aside preconceptions we’ve had of a person or a group of people. That is why it is so important to educate young men and boys about women’s issues (Girl Impact’s #educateboysempowergirls embodies this philosophy and is one I believe should be trending more on social media). Teaching both girls and boys alike about team building through different activities, such as Magic Carpet (children stand on a mat and have to flip it over without anyone touching the floor), blind obstacle courses, group skipping and my favourite, partner yoga. All these exercises, I like to believe, helped to empower and educate both girls and boys, teaching them that only by working together can they be successful. Teamwork was most important with partner yoga, which is extremely fun as much as it is challenging. The children would have to do various poses and perhaps the hardest one was elevator (standing toe to toe and holding hands the two partners must stretch apart then lower themselves into a squat position). Often one partner would go down before the other, or one wouldn’t be strong for the other so they would both fall. This pose literally embodied what I believe Girl Impact to stand for, both partners having to be strong for the other as well as vulnerable, letting them trust the other so that together they can be strong. When one partner fell, the other did; when one gender is unequal, we are all unequal.

Before coming to Cape Town I had this idea that I would work a few weeks and suddenly there would be this change that took place. The men would respect women, young girls would go out and become whatever they wanted to be. I understand that this is an idealistic, possibly even narcissistic view on how my volunteer time would be because it’s not until you come to Khayelitsha that you realise the magnitude of these issues, there are so many people living in poverty that it is impossible to touch the lives of so many in the space of three weeks. So this gets me wondering, out of the children I have worked with, how many go home and practice being strong in a certain yoga pose and realise that being strong is not just about being tough, that you can be leader no matter what gender you are. You really can’t ever be sure of the impact you have on people’s lives but I can be sure that all the people I have met have impacted me. I have felt more educated as I have broken down those stereotypes I see so often back home. That’s the key to empowerment, isn’t it? Education. By stepping out of the “bubble” you are automatically empowering yourself to see the world as it truly is, empowering yourself to effect change. That is The Girl Impact.

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Meet Neema!

Learn more about Moshi’s New Girl Impact Staff Member, Neema

Neema joined African Impact Community English class as a student in February 2017 .Since then she has volunteered on the Girl Impact project supporting workshops in Secondary Schools, successfully interviewed for 6 Rafiki Walking Tours (an income generation enterprise supported by African Impact) and this month, we happily invited her onto the African Impact staff team to support the Maasai Town project teaching Maasai to read and write Kiswahili and English.

Today, we took 10 minutes out of her busy project schedule to ask Neema some questions about her experience with African Impact, and on the Girl Impact Project.

So, Neema, when did you first hear about African Impact?

My friend, Alice, she told me about English Language classes that African Impact were doing. We went to school together but she is a year older than me. I started coming to classes in February 2017 and went to Intermediate first, then graduated into Advanced.

What was your first lesson like?

I found it hard for the first few weeks because it was my first time to be speaking English so much. But I liked that I had the opportunity to have conversations and debates, especially debates about gender – like if the next president of Tanzania should be a woman! It shows that women are equal and can do great things too.

And then you joined our Girl Impact workshop leaders! How did it feel doing your first Girl Impact workshop?

It was so hard to stand in front of students and speak, but after doing the projects for a few days I gained confidence because of the people I was working with – other volunteers and African Impact staff members. All of the workshops are really interesting. The most recent one that we’ve done in Kimochi Secondary about problem solving and peer pressure was great for the students because these are the things that they understand, and it is so helpful for when they face those type of challenges. That’s what’s going on in our community right now.

One day, when you run your own project – what will it be?

The most important thing is about gender balance because it can help everyone to be respected without looking at the gender stereotypes, for example in jobs, like engineers and mechanics – people think that males are the only people who can do that but girls can too!

Thanks Neema – now for some fun questions! You work with people from all around the world – what have you learnt about different cultures?

I have met new people, and I meet more new people every day- I have learnt about different foods and dances – for example here in Tanzania, we can’t eat snails but in France they do!

What do you love about African Impact?

There is so much co-operation here and friendship – everyone is lovely!

 What is your favourite food?

Chapati, beans and rice

If you had one wish in the whole world, what would you wish for?

I would wish that people would help others.

What’s your favourite colour?

Maybe two – pink and red

What do you love about Tanzania?

That it’s a peaceful country, with lots of natural resources

What is your mum called?

(Laughs) Agnes Ngowi, she’s from Moshi

 If you could travel to any country in the world, where would you go?

Scotland because I’ve heard there is a lot to see, and I want to see how the queen rules the UK!

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STAND

Written by Zandile Nkompela our Cape Town Girl Impact Coordinator

 

I stand here not for me

I stand here for the unsung sheroes who do not get such platforms

I stand here for the women who think they don’t deserve this platform

I stand here for the girls who dream of such platforms

I stand here to salute the forgotten shereos before our time

I stand here to summon women who think and say its too late and its over

I stand here to decode unleash and unlock dreams for our girls

I stand here to thank the formidable women who prepared the way for us

I stand here to say rise woman, you are still alive

I stand here to pass the baton to the rising young leaders after us

I stand here not because I feel like being the centre

I stand here because I have to for those who looking for one of their own to look up to

I stand here to say well done faithful servants who stood before our time

I stand here because I am created for a time such as this

I stand here to inspire; implore and impact those who come after my generation and more

I stand here because they stood

I stand here so we can stand

I stand here so that they will stand

I say stand women stand

I say stand girl child stand

So stand….

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Where would we be without harmony?

Written by volunteers Morwenna Hall and Esther Bancroft

We are so used to sharing tracks on Spotify, adding them to countless playlists that sometimes it’s difficult to imagine what it would be like to simply live in the moment- to experience live music without an iPhone recording it. Imagine doing all that, but in the informal residences of Khayelitsha, with children singing songs passed down in Xhosa tradition, using cut up coke cans to create a beat and a ten year old drummer to back the voices. Girl Impact was obviously going to subvert our perceptions of life in Cape Town of the township of Khaylitsha, but not to this extent, or in such raw form.

Standing there, in someone’s home witnessing a performance that so few get to see was enough to move us. We had only become acquainted to these children a few hours before, but still they followed us out through the shacks, singing with the drum to our car. That experience alone could justify every challenge in getting here where music here brought us, more specifically them together. Having only known each other for just under a year after meeting at university made volunteering together even more surreal.  For three weeks we have worked with other young people with whom we could identify- specifically the young girls who are also at important stages in their lives, balancing their relationships and  educational careers.

Music surrounds every volunteer, from the aux in the bus on the way to project, the chorus of GAPA grannies to the nursery rhymes we sing with the children. It is easy to see how much of a presence it has in the community. When working with the dance group we met with a young dancer wanting to set up his own music production company, solely to voice the talent in Khayelitsha. The ambition we have experienced whilst working on project is testament to the children’s drive, some of whom- at just ten years old- show dedication to enter careers that we also want to end up in.  And it is interesting to see how the new interacts with the old, with the new generation actively creating a new community- demonstrated by the  entrepreneurs who line the streets- and the mamas at Fikelela orphanages we teach how to use computers for the first time. All of this is made starker by the fact that all the talent and hard work that exists within Khayelitsha seems reserved to the cape flats, unbeknown to many residents of Cape Town.

There are always the songs which transport you back to a certain place and moment in time, and for us ‘Down South’ by Jeremy Loops will always remind us of Cape Town. We doubt you can even volunteer with African Impact without someone playing it. It goes to show that on project there will always be someone playing their music- especially in Lion house. You can’t watch a sunset on Signal hill without it. Meeting and experiencing so many beautiful moments together with other volunteers from across the globe has been another culture lesson- often arguing over English music taste in comparison to American remixes.  But still we bonded over sharing the aux in the bus, against the backdrop of Table Mountain on the highway.

Music would still be playing at lunchtimes at the look-out over the cape flats; the community tour took us to the different communities on the flats starting from Langa to Khaylitsha. All of this is a reminder  to how important it is to understand the geography of an area home to over two million people.

Working at Girl Impact with girls our own age and older has been so valuable in creating safe spaces in which they can be listened to, and therefore be themselves. African Impact’s pledge of sustainability means that we know these spaces will exist, even after we leave.  This was definitely a defining factor in why we have enjoyed volunteering with African Impact- because we know that our efforts are all part of a larger project. Just as the accumulation of voices and dancers we saw from the dance group would not be as stunning or work as well individually, Girl Impact is successful because it spans generations and brings them together.

And where would we be without harmony?

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Our newest Girl Impact partner has volunteers in a tizz! Every Tuesday volunteers return from their morning session with Quirky 30 with smiles on faces, chatting a million miles an hour about how inspiring the participants were, how much they learned and how they can’t wait for next Tuesday.

Quirky 30 is definitely an amazing program. You only need to read about our Destination Managers experience to know how incredible the youth are (you can find that here). What is even more inspiring though is the program itself. Teaching participants aged from 16 – 31 years old computer programming and coding is a life changing and challenging venture. Founded by 2 former inmates, Quirky 30 is their solution to enable youth to find an alternative to poverty and crime, which is prevalent within the local communities.

“We up-skill in marketable skills and create channels and opportunities for inclusive economy using technology to empower, advance and promote sustainable livelihoods. Our core business focuses on training female and male unemployed youth, teenage mothers, high school drop outs, ex-offenders and offenders in coding, design, soft skills as well as entrepreneurial skills to help them escape the grinding cycle of poverty and crime which characterizes so many of their lives. Coding is an aspirational job skill, which is not only in high demand globally but is also well paid. We provide free training to the population groups that are in greatest need of such job skills – yet have the least access due to their marginalised situations – we hope to reduce inequality, poverty and criminal activity, and ignite technological revolutions in previously hopeless and unlikely places.”

Quirky 30 has partnered with African Impact to ensure the ‘soft skills’ are delivered as well; guaranteeing confidence, self assurance and self belief are instilled – all of which are so important in landing a job. For those who have never held a job before, the vital skills of CV writing, interview techniques and workplace ethics are vital in securing employment. African Impact volunteers are able to guide Quirky 30 participants through the challenging and intimidating world of job applications and are looking forward to seeing just how many are snapped up for employment at the end of the year.

The outcome of this incredible project are youth that are set to succeed. Creating a safe space for the participants to talk openly, to questions volunteers, each other and themselves enables courage to take root and the understanding that maybe soon they can be achieving that dream of well paid, consistent, rewarding work.

But why take our word for it. We recently asked Quirky 30 participants to share their thoughts on the program and volunteers. Here’s what they had to say;

Phindi, 23

        “I have learned constructive ways to solve problems.”

No name:

        “In this program, I’ve learnt a lot about equality. I’ve realized we really not equal in terms of gender culturally and I think that needs to change.”

Mkhansyi, 21 years old

        “It’s been beneficial in terms of learning new things that I didn’t know. There’s some challenges that I’ve noticed here that influence people’s decisions.”

Mandy, 19 years old

        “ The programme is cool. It stimulates us and exposes us to things we hardly talk about. As for me, I keep it up because at some point it helps me emotionally, mentally, etc.”

Riyaos

        “ This program has given me insight into how cultural, youth experiences, and perceptions shape our current society. It has also empowered me with a number of tools for inward reflection. You’re never too old to learn or change.”

Lwazi, 23 yeard old

        “The experience in Quirky 30 has groomed me to be a better person in business and socially. The opportunities that learning the digital world has given me will open new doors for myself and be independent. I believe I can stand on my own two feet and open a business. I am equipped to work for myself and change.”

Luthando

        “I have learned a lot from this programme. I have gained a vast amount of knowledge that I never thought I would have because coding and programming are two broad things and getting to know how to create a website or mobile app is a big thing. I have a huge love for technology since I started learning about computers. I would say Quirky 30 is a place for you to see where you want to put yourself in the technology world. Thanks for everything!”

If this sounds like something you’d like to be involved with, great news; Quirky 30 is set to quadruple in size in 2018! This means our impact is also expanding and you can join us in developing self confidence, knowledge and empowerment to a whole new set of participants.

To find out how you can join the Quirky 30 love affair, head to the African Impact website.

 

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Written by our Moshi Girl Impact Volunteer, Catherine Davis, May 2017

One of the most valuable and memorable experiences a student can have in their lifetime is the opportunity to meet an inspirational figure. Furthermore, to be able to relate to that inspirational person on some level or another, students are provided with a memorable experience and also given the mindset that tells them to believe in themselves. All students should be given the chance to listen, engage, and absorb the knowledge, advice, and encouragement that motivational speakers provide. It allows them to hope. It gives them inspiration and encourages them to follow their dreams and goals in life, whatever they may be.

During the Girls Impact Project in Moshi, a young woman named Sophia Simon was invited to talk with a class of students at a local Secondary School. She graciously spoke to the students in the third person about how a young individual had to overcome a series of challenges to become a General Manager. She specified that this person had graduated secondary school at the age of 23 and went on to study travel and tourism management and become the general manager of one of the most renowned lodges in Moshi. When she revealed herself as this particular individual, the students were in awe and respect. She demonstrated perseverance and gave the class an example of how achieving your dreams’ is not an easy journey, but it is possible with dedication and patience. Furthermore, she was an encouragement, especially for the female students, because her personal story was an example of a woman who independently challenged social norms and made a career for herself. This was critically important because during several of the exercises we conducted throughout the week which focused on career options and skills, I noticed that many of the students still retained the idea that women were confined to a certain spectrum of aspirations. For example, many believed women were solely apt for jobs such as cooking, cleaning, caring for children, etc. Another trend which many students had believed was that career-wise, most women were more likely to become teachers or doctors. These are, of course, fantastic paths to pursue, however, it is important to teach students that they are not limited to such few options. It is crucial that these students recognize their potential and know that there is a range of different career paths for them to pursue.

Francis Romani Selasini, another motivational speaker and Executive Coordinator of NAFGEM (Network Against Female Genital Mutilation) – a local partner of African Impact – was able to visit the class shortly after Sophia, and he spoke passionately about the efforts he has made to this day in order to put an end to female genital mutilation. His presence and determination were evident in the classroom and the students absorbed his every word. He carefully explained how FGM is a gravely serious violation of human rights, which specifically targets girls and women. FGM is acknowledged internationally, yet the practice continues to affect a large number of women due to deeply-rooted social and culture norms. It is a form of discrimination against women and of femicide. There are no health benefits from the procedure – which Francis made very clear after the question was asked by a female student.

These types of open discussions and inspirational talks are a necessary component in every classroom. It allows students to broaden their minds, ask important questions, and gain insight into the many different issues that are still present today.

A very special thank you to Sophia Simon, Francis Romani Selasini and of course, African Impact & The Happy Africa Foundation for the continuous support, motivation, and dedication that is delivered to these beautifully enthusiastic and devoted students!

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Written by Zandile Nkompela, Cape Town Girl Impact Coordinator

Girl Impact programme focuses on empowering young people in and around Cape Town. As the newly appointed Project Development Coordinator, this is something I am passionate about. The passion was ignited in my youth with my involvement with developmental human rights organisations. This is where I cut my teeth into gender and development sphere, where I got to see with my gender spectacles. It seems so surreal as I remember some of the sessions where I expressed some of the oppressive terminology used knowingly or unknowingly by adults whilst growing up. Any hope of being bold enough to live the life that one was meant to was shattered by all those negative messages intentional or unintentional, alas; it’s all said and done.

The latter is important to mention as I would like to raise awareness with this article to the mamas, child minders out there who are supposed to protect and build a positive mind set for the young minds.  A young mind is like a blank canvass waiting on an artist to create master piece to be show cased in the world’s galleries. There are two things that could happen to the canvass, we can get a master piece or is spoiled.

In my era of growing up as a dark skinned child was looked down upon and for a girl child to be bold was shunned upon. No one dared wanted to be bold because you will be labelled FORWARD and that was definitely not a good thing. So those of us who believed a lot of that garbage hid sheepishly into our own little caves. Some of us were lucky enough in life to have bold grandmothers to look up to and emulate. Also access to the organisations that could de-mystify all those myths was a bonus. The latter assisted in a process of restoration and finding the power within.

However, some of us who were not so lucky, carried those negative messages and leading lives with low self-esteem and finding themselves in abusive relationships and other less unfortunate situations. So adults do guard your tongue when speaking to young people and speak positive words to build and unleash the potential in young people.

What the Girl Impact program seeks to achieve, is to empower and educate young people, boys and girls in under developed communities. The program covers issues which today’s young people are challenged with. The issues include safety; self-confidence; access to education; health; making a living and early pregnancy.

The Girl Impact program believes in the holistic empowering of young people. Thus it is imperative that the boys and young men are part of the programme. It is shocking to learn of the stereo-types still embedded in some of the young women and men that we work with in the programme. For us this can only mean that the need for gender and development still remains.

South Africa is currently facing a crisis of gender based violence and no one is going to tackle this challenge besides us, the people who live in South Africa. There is definitely a need to empower women to protect themselves. There is also a need to conscientise boys and young men about the effects of gender based violence. Gender Development and Empowerment is certainly far from over, Girl Impact, has a major role to play in our disadvantaged communities. We all, by that I mean, in the home, teachers, churches, organisations and government, we all need to play our part for the empowerment of our young people, the future of our country.

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