Amaqhawekazi are Keeping East London Girls in School


Amaqhawekazi, which when translated to English means “Heroines”, is an organization built and run by a group of ladies who strongly believe in empowering the nation through the empowerment of young black girls who come from underprivileged homes. They collectively identify themselves as Amaqhawekazi. – Elungile Mbanjwa

Amaqhawekazi is a community based organisation, our aim is to empower women, hence our tag line ‘empower a woman, empower a nation’. Our main initiative is based on pad drives, so what we do is we mobilize the community and get them to donate pads. We go and donate the pads to people who need them, mainly school girls. They were our main target for the year, to go in line with the hashtag ‘keep a girl in school’ – Monalisa Johnson

In 2015, when I was in grade 11 there was a pad drive campaign called #PadDrive2015, it was started by a friend of mine, Khanya Pambo. I was very involved in that pad drive and so was Mihlali Xozwa. Khanya Pambo later on suggested that I take over the Pad Drive, and that’s when I realised I not only wanted it to be a campaign, but I wanted it to be a legitimate organisation. That’s when Mihlali and I teamed up and started an organisation that will empower and inspire black female teenagers in the East London region.

I realised that there weren’t any youth initiated organisations that specifically catered for black female teenagers. Mihlali and I teamed up got 10 people including ourselves and we called ourselves Amaqhawekazi because that’s what we wanted to be. We wanted to be heroines for the young females we were trying to empower and expose.

The pad drive has been our biggest campaign and it has been our most continuous. More than just collecting sanitary materials from the public, which is a big deal on its own, the drop offs are more valuable than the collections to us. At these drop offs we get to interact with the people whom we are trying to help. It is also where we get to experience altruism, our altruism that we’re trying to perpetrate. It is not just about getting there and giving the girls sanitary materials, it is about getting there and sharing our own experiences  with them, and them doing the same with us.

At the drop offs usually Mrs Kwinana will get there and talk about hygiene as a woman who is menstruating and also how to handle yourself as a woman and how to empower yourself as a black woman. We also speak about academics and how the girls can sign up for NBTs and how they can apply for university. We usually hand out a prospectus of different universities as well.

Our objective initially was that we want to empower  young girls who are in the East London region, but because most board members are in different provinces and have moved out of East London, studying elsewhere, we really want to expand. With that said our immediate goal right now is to register as an NGO, so that we will be able to get sponsorship so we can better improve the lives of many more young girls. We also just want to become a movement that has a national presence.  Part of our objective is that we want inspire other teenagers to view altruism as a social mandate and we want to make them view it as a cool thing. – Cwayita Kweyi