About a year ago, as the pandemic turned the world on its head, our team became more and more aware of the rapid increase in gender-based violence and fewer opportunities available for vulnerable women in our community. We knew we had to do more to support them. The concept of a sponsorship program to help women access our skills training, counselling, support groups, practical support and help starting small businesses was born. A few months of research, program design and fundraising later, and we welcomed the very first group of Ikemele women into their program in January 2021!
This past month, we hosted an intimate graduation ceremony for the very first 15 Ikemele graduates. The excitement, joy and hope in their hearts was evident through their smiles and energy!
"It was so exciting to see these ladies so happy. I was really inspired by the smiles on their faces. For many of them, it was the first time graduating. This is why we work as hard as we do." - Tshepo Mbengwa, Project Facilitator
The very first Ikemele graduation in April 2021
So, what's next for these women? They are determined to improve their lives with the technical and life skills they've learnt. Several have submitted business ideas, which our team is helping develop and bring to life. Thanks to the incredible support of this program from our network, we are able to help a few with seed funding to get their business off the ground. A group of women have started a gardening project at our centre, and another is starting a small business selling second hand clothes out of her home. Considering many of these women were jobless, relying on government grants, or selling their bodies before to put food on the table - this is a hugely positive life change for them.
We've also created a virtual forum for the group to stay in touch and continue supporting each other. Sustainable social networks are a major factor in overcoming abuse for good and consistently working towards a better future together. We'll check in with them directly once a month to see how they're doing and how their needs have changed.
Gardening project coming to life at Lesedi la Batho
As we head into Quarter 2, we welcome 14 new women into the Ikemele program! We asked them to share why they believe the Ikemele program will help them change their lives - keep reading to see what a few of them had to say. The hope and belief in themselves, despite their circumstances, is what keeps us working hard to empower and uplift vulnerable women!
Our Ikemele project has had another major achievement this past month... Lesedi la Batho participated in an onboarding challenge on the GlobalGiving platform - the world's first, largest and most prestigious giving site. The challenge happens just twice a year and only a few out of hundreds of applicants are successful! If we raised at least $5000 (R75 000) from 40 different donors within 19 days for one specific project - we would earn a permanent spot on the GlobalGiving site as a partner, able to continue fundraising internationally.
Thanks to our incredibly supportive and faithful network, as well as volunteers, board members and supporters sharing the plea with their own networks, we achieved and exceeded our goal! $5620 was raised from 66 donors - which will sponsor our next intake of Ikemele women in July 2021!
Thank you each and every supporter who gave to this exciting campaign. Our project is still live on the GlobalGiving platform - check out our story and please consider giving to help us sustain this crucial program for the vulnerable women of our community!