Confidence Ndukwane is a 23-year-old social work student at the University of Johannesburg. She is the Deputy Secretary of the Student Residence House Committee, a founder of Di Naledi Scarlet Ribbon Reach-out program, a General Manager of Gamechanger sites, and Girls for Girls South Africa mentee. She is a phenomenal woman who not only believes in her success but in the success of fellow women too.
“Begin doing what you want to do now, we are not living in eternity, we only have this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake”– Francis Bacon Sr.
Growing up, I could always see that the odds to succeed were stacked against my mother, a single unemployed woman. Being a widow, she was routinely excluded from community affairs and jobs and had to resort to selling scones at a local high school to feed us. I remember that once she was lucky to have a job, only for the company to decide to replace female employees with male employees. I have watched her master many new skills over the years, but with no support. She has still failed to find a job and continues to sell scones outside the school. I often cite my mother’s story because it is a source of motivation for me now that I am a woman who wants to take charge of, change and control my fate, and to look out along the way for other women that may need a mentor to help them do the same.
In late 2018, I was overwhelmed by a deep urge to find my purpose in life and start the journey to become the woman that I want to be. I had come to the sudden realisation that I was not getting any younger, and resolved to, straightaway, find something meaningful to do. I took stock of my past experiences and my daily life and searched for something that I knew I could do in, and for my immediate community.
I was quickly drawn to the idea of assisting people that are vulnerable and marginalised because of poverty, particularly those that struggled with the basics, like finding a hot meal or clothes to wear. Soon after this, I launched the Di Naledi Scarlett Ribbon reach-out program, to distribute donated food and clothes parcels to needy students and community members. My student resident manager was kind enough to let me place posters advertising the initiative on campus, and I set out to solicit donations and support, beginning with my fellow students.
It has not been easy finding assistance, but I am lucky to have been joined on this journey by three members. Together, we are working on setting up partnerships and expanding our network to reach out to other vulnerable members of the community including orphans living in orphanages. We are also excited to be working on the launch of a soup kitchen on campus, for the benefit of students that have been unfortunate to lose their government financial aid sponsorships. Every day we watch another of our fellow students walk away from school and return home empty-handed because they are unable to sustain themselves at school. Through the soup kitchen, we hope to provide students like this with at least 2 meals a day and convince them to finish their school courses.
“Something new and better is awaiting to be known somewhere in the world and it is you and I to be responsible.” — Carl Rogers
I first heard about G4G via a link that was emailed to me. I was sold once I read about the mission and goals of their mentorship program, which not only aligned with my own needs for personal growth, but also came at a fortuitous time when I was launching my reach-out program on campus, and in need of mentorship myself. I signed up for the program, and shared the same link with all the women that I know, and have never regretted the decision since.
I have attended all the G4G sessions and count everyone as a blessing because of the new outlook and skills that I pick up each time, some of which are already turning my life and workaround. The leadership and communication skills that I have developed during my time with G4G have been transformative for me in my role as one of only two women on the male-dominated Student Resident Committee. G4G training has given me the confidence to not only speak up and contribute in our meetings but to also negotiate with my colleagues on new policies to improve student life experience at their places of residence, particularly for women.
There is more to G4G than the professional skills that I have learnt; the connections that I have made, the mentors that guide me, and the sense of sisterhood. It is not surprising to me that the first major package donation to Di Naledi Scarlett Ribbon from the River’s Foundation came as a result of a connection made through Ms. Nuska Zwane, my G4G mentor.
If you ask me, the true revelation about this program has been learning that ‘I can’ — I can be successful and live the life that I have dreamed about; I can change not just my future, but other people’s too; I can be the example to and help other young women at my student residence. I would love to have a G4G mentorship program running at my student residence, to unlock the hidden potential in more women and bring about a shift in our collective future as women.