Stories of Change: A Message of Strength from South Africa

Audery is a 21-year-old Senior Leader with BRAVE, one of EMpower’s grantee partners that works to inspire and empower young girls to become future leaders through travel, storytelling, writing and photography. We hope her message of activism and strength inspires you like it did us. Audery has been a founder member of BRAVE Rock Girl since 2014. She recently won the RISE Africa We are Africa Innovation Award which recognizes young people making an impact in Africa. EMpower is proud to support the work that BRAVE does in developing the next generation of leaders!

Read more about EMpower’s partnership with BRAVE Rock Girl here.

I’m from Manenberg, a township in Cape Town, South Africa, that was created in 1966 by the apartheid government for coloured families. Manenberg is known as one of Cape Town’s most dangerous communities - there’s a lot going on drugs, abuse, rape, poverty and gang wars. Most people living here are unemployed, and this has become much worse during the pandemic.

Growing up in a community like this is tough- you either fall pregnant at a young age, get addicted to drugs or end up dead or fighting for your life in hospital due to a cross fire from a gang fight. Not many of us girls are lucky to do something with our lives and get out. Not that we don’t want to leave but there is no hope, not many positive role models, so what do you do in a situation like this? You give up and you just settle for what’s in front of you.

In 2014, I was lucky enough to come across an amazing organization that changed my perspective of life, my life. BRAVE awoke the story that I have held within me and gave me the freedom to speak up about all these issues young people face and the opportunity to make the difference that I want to see in my community and this world. They helped me realize I was a change agent, that I could break the cycle of hopelessness for the future generations.

I started using my voice, my writing, to educate young girls in my community about life, the world out there, and their potential. When I look at these girls’ faces and see the sparkle in their eyes, I know that I have a purpose and that I’m doing what I was meant to do. I want the best for them and if we all just keep on believing in them, we can help them get through whatever challenges they have, and not give up on them.

These girls will break the cycle and become engaged citizens, partners and role models, our future doctors, lawyers, government ministers. Who knows, one of them might be the first female president of South Africa. That matters.

My voice is my strength, my power and my key to change people’s mindset about ‘My community’ and what it is like to be a girl here.

In just six years, I have seen the changes happening in my life and in the lives of the girls I mentor. BRAVE gives us a platform from which to speak up and become that visible change, not only in Manenberg, but around the world.

My message to all girls and women is that you should not give up on your dreams and if you are not happy with something speak up! Don’t let anyone make you feel insecure or unworthy. We all have a story inside of us. We just have to look deep within ourselves and find it. Remember, stay Brave.

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