THROUGH the Chrysalis Foundation – which benefits from the proceeds of the Pretoria SPAR Women’s Challenge race – Emelie Ledwaba has not only found her wings and is now walking a path of success, but is showing other girls just like her how to find theirs too.
Born in 1991, Emelie grew up on Diepsloot and at the age of 15, in 2006, joined the Chrysalis Foundation as a student. The Chryalis Foundation runs skills development courses for disadvantaged and traumatised girls aged 14 to 18. Through on-going educational upliftment courses designed to impart knowledge and life skills, Chrysalis fosters an environment of personal growth and discovery for young women who learn to cope with crimes perpetuated against them, break negative patterns of behaviour and rebuild their self-respect and confidence.
Their ethos is based on the way in which a caterpillar emerges transformed from the safety of the chrysalis into a beautiful butterfly. This is how the girls of the Chrysalis Foundation learn to reach their fullest potential.
Chrysalis also ensures that the girls find practical applications for their skills by providing work opportunities for them on completion of their course.
Emelie had the opportunity to uncover her true potential through tertiary education thanks to the sponsorship of the Chrysalis Foundation. “Chrysalis gave me a bursary after matric. I was able to attend Boston College and graduated in 2009. It was a 100% bursary I didn’t have to pay a cent. It covered everything, including transport. They even helped my brother as well by helping me to pay off his college fees. He has also since graduated with a diploma in Policing.”
Chrysalis is managed by a group of volunteer business women who host and deliver lectures along with leading professional experts in their fields.
Emelie decided to join this group of volunteers and educators so that she could help other young girls find their wings as she had found hers under Chrysalis’ care. “After my graduation from the Chrysalis camp I became a volunteer. This foundation has taught me to be confident, have a high self-esteem and most of all it taught me respect. Life can be challenging when you are on your own but with a group of peers that cares for and loves you everything becomes better,” says Emelie.
The Chrysalis Foundation programme includes providing guidance from psychologists and social workers, who further help the girls to come to terms with their experiences. Emelie says that when looking back at the courses she took part in at Chrysalis, she can see what she gained from the experience. “I benefited from my experience with Chrysalis in so many aspects of life. Firstly in that I grew up to be the strong woman that I am today. I am able to love, care, share, to be happy with what I have and be thankful for every blessing I receive.”
The Chrysalis Foundation has been a beneficiary of the Pretoria SPAR Women’s Challenge since 2013. A portion of the race proceeds provides Chrysalis with much needed funding that allows them to continue uplifting the girls under their care. “The Chrysalis Foundation’s ethos is a perfect example of what this year’s #FindYourWings theme is about,” says SPAR North Rand Marketing Director, Jerome Jacobs. “This theme is a call to action to not only find your own wings but also to share stories of those who have beaten the odds to find theirs and who pay it forward by helping others. In looking for community heroes to celebrate who have risen to this challenge, we did not have look further than the stories of the young women who emerge from this foundation.”
Emelie says that, to her, the #FindYourWings theme finds its meaning in the ability to look into one’s self. “I think it means being able to find the true me and to always try to reach the sky.” For the girls out there who may have found their wings along the way, Emelie’s advice is to never give up.
“Take every day as a challenge and never ever settle for less. If something is to be, then it is up to you to reach inside and make it happen. Happiness is a choice, so make the right choice!”
For more information or to make a donation, contact the Chrysalis Foundation on 012 993 2351.
The Pretoria SPAR Women’s Challenge takes place on 4 August 2018 at SuperSport Stadium in Centurion. Entries are available at selected SPAR stores and online at sparladiespta.co.za. For more information, to stay on top of the latest race news, enter exciting competitions and to show your support, Like the SPAR Women’s Challenge Pretoria Facebook Page or follow@SPARladiespta on Twitter.