,We’d heard about I see U the mentoring organization, growing and empowering young girls-women from the challenged Cape Flats. But getting the bigger picture, meeting and seeing the founders and ‘graduates’ in action was really, to use an overworked phrase, ‘truly inspirational.’
So Hayley Philander, founder with Karen Nelson and Renea Cupido, programme manager of IseeU, came to Woman Zone, bringing some of their graduates: Saajidah Samodien, 18 from Bonteheuwel; Aqueelah Coetzee 21 from Hanover Park; Ndimkhulu Ngcula 17 from Heideveld and Ruth Luti 17 from Athlone. We looked, we listened, we had a ‘values auction’ and checked in with ‘compassion cards’ – and a fun, sharing time was had by all.
They started eight years ago, but in the last three years alone they’ve worked with 134 girls from Grades 10 to 12, a trusted list of mentors, both individual and business, and some visionary funders. They have ‘graduates’ now studying at UCT, CPUT, UWC and Stellenbosch – but the ‘backpack’ of knowledge and skills they have all taken away is immeasurable. But, as Hayley and Renea point out, it’s been a learning curve on both sides.
Here are just some of the takeaway lines from the morning:
“These girls took me on a journey - of love and laughs and so much more”
“It’s about opportunity – about discovering who I am”
“We take them out of their comfort zone. It’s about extending the muscle”
“Dreams can be found in the harshest places”
“We didn’t have a name, but after a workshop, one girl said ‘I feel seen’ – hence our name”
“When you feel seen your value and worth is affirmed”
“if you don’t have a chance to make a contribution to the world – the world is missing something”
“We had 100 conversations with people in business”
“When all you see growing up is gangsterism, teenage pregnancy and crime – you kind of like ‘is something is wrong with me’ – so you have to figure out your identity and where you fit in”
“It’s a three-year journey of developing self-awareness, self-belief, agency, goal-setting, understanding your value, worth and potential”
“They come to realise they are the protagonists in their own stories”
“There’s no charge, but the cost is that you have to engage – you have to speak, you have to listen”
“In South Africa it can take up to nine generations for a child to overcome challenges and reach their full potential”
"What we need are teachers, mental health professionals and social workers with internships or mentors in the following professions: ACTUARY, AIR HOSTESS, APPLIED GEOLOGY, PSYCHOLOGY, BOTANY, CIVIL ENGINEERING, CORPORATE or PROSECUTORIAL LAW, CRIMINOLOGIST, DANCE EDUCATION, ENVIRONMENTALIST, FILM, HR , MARINE BIOLOGY, MICROBIOLOGY, PUBLISHING, TRAVEL/TOURISM, WEB DESIGN, WRITING/EDITING
or indeed anything that you or your company can offer. We train our mentors. Under the Child Care Act, we are very protective of our girls.”
To offer your support, get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or check their site www.iseeu.org.za
WOMAN ZONE wishes I see U all strength. success and joy for all that lies ahead.