root - March 12, 2024

Organisers hope the annual modelling event will encourage more young women from the community to follow their dreams

Liezl Human

Young women from Wolwerivier transformed the dusty streets of the emergency housing community on the outskirts of Cape Town into a fashion parade on Saturday. This was to mark International Women’s Day.

Zintle Qhekeni said that the idea came to her while running after-school programmes with the children in the community. “I’m always seeing it on TikTok,” she said. She had been working with Xoliseka Ntonintshi, to train with the girls for the show.

This was the second year the modelling show took place.

Wolwerivier was started in 2015 as a temporary relocation area. It is about 30km north of the city centre. It now has a couple of thousand residents and has clearly become a permanent township.

On Saturday the Wolwerivier community hub was crowded with mostly women. They cheered young girls beaming with confidence as they strutted up and down the makeshift catwalk.

The event included music, food, and coffee donated by the HumanityHeal Foundation. The foundation also helped out during the event, doing light make-up on some of the participants.

Speaker Michelle Runkel also led an interactive speech with the women to encourage them to be empowered.

“When walking in the streets, I saw [the children] always dancing and making TikToks,” said Magdalene Minnaar, one of the first Wolwerivier residents.

She spoke about the importance of showing the women of Wolwerivier that they “are not different to women outside”. “Women outside [of Wolwerivier] are not better than you,” she said.

She encouraged Qhekeni when she first came to Minnaar with the idea to start the modelling show. They practised and learnt from videos online, she said.

Minnaar added that girls participating in the show have gained confidence and improved their ability to speak up in classrooms and when talking to people.

“Wolweriver is so hidden away, and everyone thinks nothing goes on here. This can teach the children and parents to not always wait for people from outside to make a difference. Everyone in the community can also make a difference,” said Minnaar.

Speaking to the crowd, ward committee member and HumanityHeal Foundation founder, Lu-Anne Dodgen said that the modelling helps the girls with self-confidence.

She also spoke about what Wolwerivier has achieved since its inception nine years ago. This included workshops held at the business hub where residents are helped to start their own small businesses. “A lot of people, when you say Wolwerivier, don’t even know where Wolwerivier is. Our vision is to put Wolwerivier on the map,” she said.

They hope to host this event every year with more people supporting their initiative. —GroundUp

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