We live in a world where the girl child is often looked down upon or is told to know her place. Fortunately, there are those who believe in encouraging girls to rise above their challenges and to become better than what society dictates.
Local businessman, philanthropist and entrepreneur, Theo “Theo King” Chikuma, is doing just that with his Save Our Girls initiative, which is aimed at empowering young girls to reach great heights.
A workshop was hosted for a group of Grade 6 and 7 pupils at the Trevor Barlow Library in Heidedal as part of the initiative. The workshop was held (with the help of local farmer and Save Our Girls facilitator, Tryphena Kraalshoek, to teach the young girls about the importance of one’s reputation and how to build and maintain it. The programme featured various speakers, including entrepreneur, Teddy Mhlambi, who spoke about confidence and body image, Ashley Leeuw, a social worker who shed light on the different forms of abuse and how to go about reporting it, and acquisition banker, Venus Bartlett, who educated the learners on the importance of saving, especially from a young age. Representatives from a local museum also paid the young girls a visit. Yolanda de Kock, who is their education officer, said that their role in the initiative was to teach the girls how to express themselves through visual art. One of the well-known supermarkets was kind enough to provide soup for the girls.
Chikuma mentioned that the workshop is a great way to ensure that the girls are doing something positive and enriching during the June-July school holidays. He previously spoke to Bloemfontein Courant before the launch of the initiative last year about his hopes of taking the workshop to various schools across the country.
When asked about the impact the workshop had, Chikuma spoke about how positive he was that they were able to achieve what they had set out to accomplish: “I really think we accomplished what we intended to do. We already see the girls as leaders and we see them becoming great.” He mentioned how engaged the young ladies were throughout the week. He also spoke about the importance of empowering the girl child, especially from a young age. One of the participants, Cleo-dene Lubbe, shared what she learned during the workshop and her thoughts on the entire experience were: “I learned about personalities and so much more. I enjoyed it a lot.”