#UPMandelaMonth: ‘Life is a journey and you are creating a ripple effect’ – final-year UP student on her community work in Hillbrow

Posted on July 08, 2021

As part of our Mandela Month campaign, Primarashni Gower found out more about the contribution that Noluvuyo Mogale, a Johannesburg-based final-year University of Pretoria Education student, is making to the Hillbrow community in Johannesburg and how the principles of Nelson Mandela inform her role in society.

How are you contributing to the community in Hillbrow?

I work hand in hand with the youth of Hillbrow, an area known for being plagued by substance use and gang activity, and which has a high crime rate. My contribution to the community of Hillbrow is to change that.

Tell us a bit more about your organisation Girls on the Move?

I co-founded Girls on the Move with my colleague Tumie Motumi. It is an organisation that seeks to restore the dignity and pride of the girl child. We recently launched Amajita on the Move for men as well in light of the recent increase in gender-based violence. We have many initiatives that were visibly active before the pandemic, and we are doing our best to stay in contact youth during this time of social distancing.

Our initiatives include a sanitary pads drive; a father-daughter bonding initiative; the Cry of the Girl Child campaign; and a women and youth conference. We also work with the adolescent clinic in Hillbrow to ensure that youth are aware of their sexual health.

I am also part of the Youth Sector Parliament of 2021, and am representing Commission 1, which seeks to assess the impact of the pandemic on the healthcare system and addresses youth unemployment. I was privileged to be elected as one of the top three representatives who will voice the concerns of the youth. We had our first debate in June as well as our first radio interview and presentation on Kaya FM. It proved to be a success and we will continue presenting our findings and resolutions nationwide.

What influence has Nelson Mandela had on you?

Nelson Mandela has had a great influence on me when it comes to leadership and community engagement. He taught me about giving back to people and peace. I learnt that my actions influence the people around me, and that I shouldn’t just talk about changing my community, but stand up and do something about it. He also taught me to use my capabilities to empower others. Moreover, through Mandela, I realised that I cannot change Hillbrow’s past but that I can definitely contribute to what it can be.

Why is it important for people to help one another?

We all have different abilities, so we should use those to assist others and vice versa (ubuntu). We should help each other because life is a journey and you are creating a ripple effect where one individual will help someone else in the future and so on. That on its own will ensure that the world becomes better than what it is. Empathy goes a long way.

What advice do you have for people who are facing adversity?

Take a break when you need to, but do not quit – because you never know what's on the other side until you fight to get to the other side. You are capable of being a problem-solver through perseverance; train your mind by meditating – a healthy state of mind is vital. Lastly, in the words of Mandela himself: “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” 

- Author Primarashni Gower

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