'Masimanyane opened - and sharpened - my eyes'

My name is Nathinkosi Mangena, and this is my testimony of how Masimanyane has impacted my life as a young lady.

I was first introduced to Masimanyane in 2009 as a scholar at Ngcelwane High School in Mdantsane, East London. They had Human Rights Clubs in schools almost all over East London, and I joined one in my school.

At that period of my life I had no awareness of what precisely human rights for women and girls are.

The first time I learned of human trafficking was through Masimanyane. I thought abuse came only in one form – violence. I assumed sexual harassment was only in the form of rape. I had no clue of the procedures taken when reporting a crime, and crime itself, I used to think was the obvious, common offences against the law. Let alone knowing what transpires in the court of law.

I also was not exposed to the magnitude of struggles faced by young people, until I joined the Human Rights Club.

Joining Masimanyane helped not only open, but sharpen my eyes toward reality.

Through the sessions with facilitators I slowly realised my self-worth; I discovered the value of being a woman, and the importance of identity.

I learned of the steps to take when you feel your rights are being violated, and where to reach out for the different needs one might have, something I was neither taught in class nor at home. We would have awareness campaigns, where students would not only learn from the campaigns, but be involved in the preparations and participation of the event.

It is through these campaigns, as well as conferences, that I gained self confidence in my craft: music, programme directing and entertainment.

Today I am a student at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, studying ND: Building (Construction), and I am recognised for my craft, as I get quite involved with the University events, thanks to Masimanyane.

I still press forward for greater heights and improve myself each day. As young people, we tend to turn a blind eye towards the very things that are detrimental to our health. I don’t know if or how I would have become the woman I am today if it wasn’t for Masimanyane. Looking today at the state of our young people in our country, my heart bleeds, especially for girls.

My desire is that Masimanyane would operate in schools all over South Africa without ceasing; for young people to be aware of their environment; know what is harmful to them, even themselves; to see them well-built mentally, emotionally, and otherwise. For that reason, I have become an activist for women and girls.

As I meet new people in my journey, I empower in, around, and all over my circle, because an ignited candle doesn’t shine alone, but ignites other candles. Together, they intensify the light in the room. Likewise, empowered women empower women.

And together, they intensify the strength of our nation. May Masimanyane continue to touch many lives like they touched mine.

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