Women Who Inspire: Petunia in South Africa

photo 1 (2)My dear friend Petunia lives in South Africa and she recently started a Leadership Institute for Girls. Since we initially connected two years ago, we have stayed in touch and continue to encourage one another in our mission to empower women and girls. She is an inspiration.

Petunia is currently busy with her Masters degree and working but she dedicates a lot of her spare time to making a difference in her community. At the beginning of 2014, Petunia started a Leadership Institute for Girls in one of the farm schools in her area. The Leadership Institute has three focus areas:

  1. Start a conversation with teen girls about social issues and issues they face as young girls
  2. To give confidence to young women
  3. A mentoring programme

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Petunia told me she started this project because of “the urge and obligation to be a part of the solution.”

She says, “I have been given so much as a young woman born in South Africa. I want to give back to my younger sisters in every possible way. I believe the Leadership Institute for Girls is one way to reach out and love like Jesus.”

“This project has been in my heart for a number of years now, but only the last two years did I start putting ideas onto paper. A lot of prayers went into it – my circle of friends have heard about this dream and every time I start sharing the heart of this dream, I come alive,” Petunia continues. 

“My dear friend Siki once asked, ‘What makes you come alive?’ I remember thinking it is this dream of reaching out to younger girls that makes me come alive.”

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This project has already seen an impact in the lives of young girls. The goal is to mentor these girls to create strong leaders that will continue to make a difference in their own families and communities. A few weeks ago, Petunia was at the school and one of the girls shared her dream – her dream to become a Civil Engineer. Petunia says,

“I was almost in tears because in that moment, I did not see a 17-year-old girl, I saw a woman who will one day build bridges and be someone prominent in her community.” 

I asked Petunia about who inspires her. I love Petunia’s answer. 

“A number of people inspire me in different ways. I have great admiration for my mother and draw a lot of inspiration from her. My three younger sisters, Lisa, Matshidiso and Mpho. I have seen all of them at one stage in life at their worst due to health issues and how they have pulled through every time. Their strong-willed spirits inspire me the most. My mentor, Christa. She is one of those people who inspired me from day one and her wisdom is admirable. One amazing lady. And a former Director, Phumzile, is one person I look up to with the biggest smile. Her motivation, input and interest in my personal life has become my anchor.”

Petunia is one of the most positive women I know and she is always looking for ways to uplift others. She inspires me, and I hope she may inspire you too. In her blog she writes,

I never stopped dreaming and everyday I see this dream unfold.
In the days coming [I] am going to have the opportunity to touch this dream.
It’s exciting and gives me hope to always dream.

And guess what? You can do it too. It’s never too late.

Get involved to help the women and girls in your own community.

Who inspires you? Send a tweet using #WomenInspire. 

Featured image courtesy of Derek Keats under Creative Commons licensing on Flickr.

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Category: Uncategorized
Tagged with: Africa    Change    education    Empowerment    Gender Equality    Girl's empowerment    girls' education    Women's Empowerment