IN a bid to empower and uplift young women, Jenna Thomas who was born in Uitenhage, established the Girls Guide by Jenna initiative and hopes to inspire many to break through barriers and become good examples in their communities.
Thomas now stays in Port Elizabeth and is a second year BEd Foundation Phase student at Nelson Mandela University.
Before she founded the Girls Guide by Jenna initiative in 2018, Thomas was stuck studying a course for which she lacked passion and led to her feeling like a failure.
To prove that something beautiful could be born during failure, she established the Girls Guide by Jenna project to uplift and empower young women.
“I became more aware of the multiple needs of young girls who lack mentorship and basic empowerment. I always believed that with the help of the community, I could make a difference in the lives of young girls,” said Thomas.
Through the initiative Thomas, with help from her friends Casey van Heerden, Celine Malgas and aunt Melanie Smiler, has been able to change the lives of young women by empowering them with life skills which consist of relationships, personal hygiene, taking pride in their appearance, academic excellence and public speaking.
They also help many with soft skills such as good communication, team building, good manners, resilience, and perseverance.
“Our goal is to make them aware of teenage pregnancies and HIV and AIDS, negative effects of drugs and alcohol use and educate them on being hygienic,” said Thomas.
Apart from motivational speaking, Thomas with the help of donations is also able to provide food for the young women, a gift bag with toiletries and cupcakes during her regular community outreach projects.
“This specific issue is important to me. A lot of these girls have experienced teenage pregnancy and are single mothers. They are also born into a cycle of poverty and lack of education,” said Thomas.
“Whenever I embark on new projects, I always hope to inspire young people to end negative cycles, so that they can be beacons of new hope for their families and future generations.”
Last year, Girls Guide by Jenna embarked on multiple projects which included a matric dance dress drive for at least nine young women and an empowerment project where they catered for 100 young women.
Later in the year they hosted a movie day for the girls at the House of Resurrection Haven, Port Elizabeth in August to celebrate Women’s month.
For the past three years, Thomas and her family have been celebrating ‘Christmas In Kabah’ by spending a day in December with children in Kabah and surrounding areas.
Thomas said for this specific project, her family joined resources to create memorable moments for each child by providing them with a dress or shirt to wear for Christmas, a cooked meal, cooldrink and a party packet filled with sweet treats.
Thomas, together with her aunty Gail Felkers who is a teacher at Gamble Street High School, plans to provide workshops for the teachers to help them start a similar initiative at the school.
“With the creation of Girls Guide by Jenna, I realised that all the community really needed was a platform through which they can channel our giving hands and loving hearts,” said Thomas.
Girls Guide by Jenna is currently embarking on a winter clothing drive. All items received will be donated to House of Resurrection Haven, on Tuesday, June 30.
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