Kim Windvogel: I love posting pictures of my body that is not the standardized idea of beauty

Kim Windvogel is an online writer who writes under the name Blazing Non-Binary. Being Non-Binary means that you are fluid in your gender.

Kim believes that they can be masculine, feminine and all the other energies present on the gender spectrum.

Their writing focuses on breaking the taboos of sex, of being fat, of loving yourself, of questioning identity and the experience called life.

As a Non-Binary, they do a lot of panel discussion on representation and access. Kim who graduated with a degree in classical singing from the University of Cape Town is also the co-founder of a non- profit company called FemmeProjects NPC.

In this article, the controversially inspirational, versatile creative, Kim Windvogel shares their story to becoming a gender activist and advocate for body positivism, among other things.


Tell us about yourself

I grew up in a home that supported me in my journey to form my own opinions about life and I think that is why I am as opinionated as I am.

I went to predominantly white schools and this shaped a lot of my understanding when it comes to my experience of race relations in a post-apartheid country such as South Africa.

 

What you do

I co-founded a Non-Profit Company called FemmeProjects NPC. We go into schools and facilitate feminist sexual and menstrual health workshops to teenagers going through puberty.

We help them understand what is going on with their bodies and allow them to ask the burning questions they are afraid to ask their parents for fear of judgment.

Currently, I am working in collaboration with Women’s Net South Africa, Coloured Mentality and Soul City to create an online campaign around the 16 Days of activism.

We are creating a #16waysfor16days campaign, calling on online users to showcase what they are doing to change the way they and the world treat gender marginalized people, calling on people to discuss this in their online and offline circles.

As there is a big digital divide we have provided workshops to explain how social media works with various organizations in the weeks leading up to 16 days of activism. 

I have a lot of feelings about the world and I knew that I needed to share that with people Click To Tweet

What inspired you to become a polygonal creative and what challenges have you faced in the creative industry? 

I had a lot to say and a lot of feelings about the world which needs to be shared with people. Specifically people in my country and my continent.

I love posting pictures of my body that is not the standardized idea of beauty. Another passion of mine is writing about masturbation, self-love and being colored.

Creating workshops for young women is my passion, the type of workshops I hoped to have had access to as a kid.

If you are creative,  you should have a responsibility to create and then to share that with the world so that others can go through the same stream of consciousness you went through.

I have been fat-shamed, body-shamed, and shamed for having bodily hair - @Blazingnonbinry Click To Tweet

I have faced challenges like being fat-shamed, body-shamed, shamed for having bodily hair. Other and more dominant challenges include being silenced in spaces I thought were safe enough to talk about the issues that gender non-binary people experience daily.

Representation for genderfluid people is lacking and therefore, I decided to take my power and to write my own story. That is the power of social media. We should all seize that power.

Tell us more about FEMME and all about the work the organization is involved in

Femme is a rough acronym that stands for Freedom of Education Motivates Empowerment. We create workshops for young people about puberty, mentorship, and their potential career paths.

We hand out menstrual cup which is a sustainable sanitary product that is made out of medical grade silicone and lasts for 5 years. This means that learners do not have to miss school due to lack of resources.

We train other facilitators to go out into their own communities and to do the same empowerment we do with them. Femme is my baby and I co-direct it with two wonderful partners, Loren Loubster and Kelly Koopman of coloured mentality

What do you enjoy most about the path that you have chosen?

I get to live the type of life I always wanted to lead, speak my mind and manage my own time (which is a very difficult thing if you are not disciplined!).

I get to meet the most amazing people who are on the same journey to try and change the world in their own way. 

 

What are you most proud of in all that you’ve achieved so far?

I am proud of my self-published anthology: Resist: The Paradox of Love and Other Societal Disorders. I wrote and curated it, but had someone who assisted with the layout and an amazing illustrator who did the cover illustration.

The work that is included in this collection was written over a period of three years. Some of the pieces are old and some I wrote two days before going to print.

I organized my own launch and was surrounded by people who enjoy poetry and who listened intently as I shared my story. I am proud that an introvert like me (someone who writes predominantly online) brought people together and shared their work in person.

It took so much out of me and I didn’t know that I had the courage, but just when you think you cannot do something out of fear, it is that same fear that drives you towards success.

I am also proud that in 3 years of running Femme we have facilitated 4000 learners, registered our own Non-Profit, opened a business bank account, and that we are all people of color blazing the trail for those who come after us.

 

What future plans do you have for your career as a creative and for the work you do at FEMME?

I want to write a novel. I have many ideas as to what my topic will be, and this might happen sooner than later.

As for Femme, we want to create sustainable sanitary products through innovative technology. Watch this space.

How do you unwind?

I write about my day and find the poem between the lines and spend time alone to think how I can better on what I did yesterday. 

Also, I speak to friends and ask for advice. Advice does not mean you are going to take it, advice means you want to know all possible avenues before you make your decision. 

I surround myself with people who inspire me and spend a lot of time online, reading Everyday Feminism or any online platform that speaks on gender politics, whether that is internationally or locally. Recently, I stopped drinking and I must say it feels amazing.

Give us your top five tips for aspiring creatives.

  • You do not have to be perfect to be a creative.
  • In the same breath, engage with your own content and those of others critically.
  • Practice your craft and do not be ashamed of it.
  • Spend time alone.
  • Have just enough fun to still always be prepared when an opportunity comes along.

Lebogang Mashigo: Our role is to present platforms for discovering, expressing, empowerment and connecting

At first it was about numbers but now our focus is about quality and impact Click To Tweet

Lebogang Mashigo is a 27-year-old social entrepreneur from the former KwaNdebele region, currently Thembisile Hani, of South Africa. She is the founder and director of Nubreed Company and Music Institute.

She is a YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative Alumni in Business and Entrepreneurship, a Monash South Africa Lead (MSA Lead) fellow and was named the Mail & Guardian’s top 200 Young South Africans 2016. Lebogang is very passionate, brave and believes in her strength and that of others.

She has been nominated twice for the Women Real Architects of Society Awards. Lebogang has also been profiled on Mzansi Insider, On the Spotlight with Ashraf Garda as well as on Kicking Doors with DJ Sbu on CNBC Africa. She Leads Africa contributor, Kutlwano Mokgojwa catches up with her on all things Art, Music and youth empowerment.


What role does Nubreed have in the community and how does it fulfil that role?

Our role is to present platforms for discovering, expressing, empowerment and connecting. We started a just a music project that gave music lessons.

Today we have become more than just a music project. We educate, discover, empower and partner with young people and communities for change.

What effect does empowering the youth with music have? How has that inspired you to venture into the Visual Arts and Life skills?

Coming from a rural area where little is happening to stimulate young people growing up in the region of former KwaNdebele, I didn’t want to change the world, but I understood that young people are gifted and they can express themselves through music, it made sense to start NuBreed the music institute.

We are not changing people but we have inspired young people to be confident, to go after their dreams, to discover opportunities within the music/arts industry. Through workshops and many events, we host, young people, connect from those in the industry and learn from them. Working with young people helped us to discover other talents and needs which propelled us to create other platforms for visual arts, life skill workshops and business workshops.

It is all part of our mission to educate, empower and develop. We now host the biggest annual talent show in June called KwaNdebele Got Talent where we call for auditions and in June young come from all over the region to showcase their talents and compete for a big cash prize and other development opportunities.

Our role is to present platforms for discovering, expressing, empowerment & connecting @NubreedMI Click To Tweet

How has Nubreed been welcomed into the community, what relationships have you formed and how do these relationships help the organisation?

NuBreed is a recognised brand that is associated with youth, Change and Empowerment. We have been welcomed with open arms in the community.

We work with other community structures, we’ve worked with schools, churches and other NGOs. However, we still see room for more networks.

How old is your target market and what socio-economic challenges do they face?

As the music institute, we’ve worked with many young. At first, it was about numbers but now our focus is about quality and impact. So I will say we are growing our impact.

We're not changing people but have inspired young people to go after their dreams Click To Tweet

What kind of syllabus does your organisation follow and how has that helped with your partnership with the University of South Africa?

NuBreed uses the UNISA music syllabus to teach our students, we have UNISA accredited teachers and we do UNISA Music exams twice a year. This enables our students to receive UNISA music certificates and earn university credits.

Your organisation is a non-profit entity, how does that affect your operations in terms of funding and how do you manage the financial pressure?

Funding has been a big challenge. We are not formally funded. We have received donations from individuals now and then. But this has encouraged us to develop our own fundraising programme in-house.

We enter competitions for funds and we are always looking for partnerships. Now we are looking for opportunities to expand. All this is inspired by our need to sustain NuBreed.

What personal lessons have you learnt through your leadership of Nubreed?

Personal lessons: It is important to say no to some ideas.

It is important to say no to some ideas @leewaMashigo Click To Tweet

If you can spend a day in the life of anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

I would really like to be Oprah for a day. I would build art schools in rural areas.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Valentine Mabaso: I am a warrior, I got scars to prove it

I aspire to help those with skin conditions and scars to see that their strength Click To Tweet

…Shape, size and scars. These are some of the common insecurities that massacre every shred of confidence one can possess. Women feel the pressure to weigh certain kilos, have a particular melanin shade and definitely a clear skin tone.

But trying to be something else is honestly a waste of who you truly are. You need to accept the areas that make you feel fragile and capitalise on your  strengths. A beautiful soul called Valentine Mabaso embraced her own scars and now gives hope to all those who feel trapped by their skin conditions. This #MotherlandMogul is a Marketing Specialist by day and a Rock Scars warrior every day. Her aspirations are to help others see that their strength is written on their skin and to help them see the beauty in their scars.

She lives with a chronic skin condition called Atopic Dermatitis and has been living with it for 10 years to date. The 23-year-old was born and bred in the rural villages of Limpopo and currently resides in Johannesburg, South Africa. Valentine has two awesome younger brothers and they were raised by a single mother who is Valentine’s number 1 cheerleader in her mission to change the world.


What Rock Scars priorities are you focusing on right now?

At this stage we are prioritizing on the following:

  • To provide a platform and an environment that serves to empower and inspire people living with any form of skin condition or a scar of any kind.
  • To restore self confidence in people of any age and gender, living with scars by providing support, networking, mentoring, encouragement and health care activities across the nation (particularly concerning skin disorders, cancer and scars of any form).mabaso

Rock Scars also educates people about skin conditions. Do you do this personally or do you have professionals who conduct these sessions?

We have unfortunately not worked with any dermatologist to date but we hope to have a professional assisting with that in future. I personally made thorough research about different forms of skin conditions, the common ones and those that are rare. I look at how they can be prevented and/or treated and how to live with them and then I share that with others.

We call this Skin Condition Awareness and it is Rock Scars’ way of educating people about skin conditions. However, I always make it clear that our participants should in all cases seek medical attention with professional Skin Doctors. Also, as people come forward to share their stories about their skin conditions, I further research about the skin conditions and then create awareness about them, especially with our online communities.

rs logo

How do you tackle discrimination against the people you assist?

I believe that no one is born with a discriminatory mind, such things are learned from people and events around us. If we can teach people especially those not directly affected by us and our scars, then we can change their minds thus tackle being discriminated. We teach people to learn to appreciate diversity and respect people who are different in any way.

People may be disabled, transgender, dark-skin or have a different hair color, scars, stretch marks or a skin condition but the truth is, no one chose to be that way so why should we discriminate them. Rock Scars promotes dialogue on social media and during the events where we engage those living with skin conditions and scars and those who don’t.

In as much as I wish to protect the people I assist against discrimination and negative remarks, I unfortunately, cannot be there for them all the time. This is why during the sessions or our 1 on 1 conversations I remind them that they are warriors. That way they will be strengthened and will stand their ground under any circumstance.

I call them warriors not because I want them to feel better but because it is true. If you can survive a burning house, car accidents, cancer, and its many surgeries, live with a chronic condition for so long, why should words from someone you don’t know break you? I remind them that it matters NOT what others say. They should know that they fought bigger battles and won them and now they have the scars as medals to prove it.

rock scar

How do you respond when Rock Scars is held up as an object of ridicule?

The best tool I believe in is education. Most people make such remarks because of misinformation, so the best way to correct such behavior is through educating them about our conditions.

For example, I was told a lot of times that I must be HIV positive because of my skin and its scars. This example goes to prove that people can just look at you and make their own assumptions and conclusions. Through Rock Scars, I show people it is not ok to make your own conclusion just by looking at me.

Often when we get ridiculed for what we do, I always remind people that no one ever voluntarily goes out there to get a scar for the fun of it. We try to make those ridiculing us understand that even if they are not infected they are probably affected in some way. They have someone in their lives who has a scar or is living with a skin condition. We are patient with those who do not agree with what Rock Scars does and let them know that in any case the same happens to them they are welcome to our family of warriors.

To grow, do you advertise Rock Scars or do you rely on word of mouth? Why?

I use every opportunity I get to promote the good work Rock Scars does. We interact with most people online and therefore use that as an advertising tool. It allows us to reach a large number of people across the globe instantly and it is cost effective, which is beneficial for a small social enterprise like Rock Scars.

We are also occasionally given the opportunity at various TV and radio stations in South Africa to advertise our brand through interviews. Podcasts and videos are available on our website. We also attend seminars of other organizations with similar objectives which contribute to our growth.

Besides the struggle to get proper venues for events what other challenges are you facing as an NGO?

My biggest challenge is running this organization and having to do my 9-5 cooperate job. Rock Scars is a social enterprise and as much as I would love to devote 100% of my time to it, I unfortunately, can’t.

I depend solely on my income to run the Rock Scars campaign and help others. I am not complaining, I love my job but I would love to travel across the country especially schools to encourage and educate learners that scars are beautiful.

rooock

What are the key indicators by which you measure your impact?

There are various ways we use to measure the effectiveness of Rock Scars. One would be an increase in the number of attendants and participants to our sessions. On our second session, we realized growth in the number of participants who came through to share their stories.

We also measure the effectiveness of our work through testimonies and reviews. There is nothing that makes me happy like seeing someone who attended our session/s having the courage to wear anything they like and feel absolutely confident and beautiful in their skin.

With our online community, it’s very easy to measure our effectiveness. For example, we can post a story of one of the warriors with a picture of themselves attached and once we see people open up about their own scars and skin disorder stories, we know that our message has been positively received.

The number of likes and shares each post gets is also a good indicator of the impact our organization has. Another way is when people from other countries who contact us to share their stories which indicates that our organization is serving its purpose.

Valentine, I understand to date you are funding Rock Scars. How do you plan to increase your income streams besides calling out for sponsors?

It is very difficult getting people to invest into your idea and vision, especially one that is something totally different and is based more on changing people’s lives than profit. That is why I resorted to self-funding the organization.

We are currently in the process of making a few Rock Scars items that will be for sale and help us raise funds so we can be able to travel across the continent to reach more warriors. Items will include, Rock Scars shirts, caps, fruit juices, and more exciting things.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Carol Bangura: Operating a non-profit organisation and empowering girls

Top skills you need to run a non-profit org from Carol Bangura, award-winning advocate Click To Tweet

Carol Bangura is an educator, advocate, philanthropist, and a published author. Carol’s professional experience includes creating culturally and linguistically appropriate education and social integration programs in the Greater Philadelphia. She’s done this for diverse immigrant and refugee women and children from countries including, but not limited to Sierra Leone (her country of birth), Liberia, Haiti, Ghana, Turkey, China, Jamaica, Mexico, and Iraq.

Carol has created education initiatives for girls exposed to school related gender-based violence (SRGBV) in Sierra Leone. As someone who has worked in the non-profit sector, Carol is open to providing insight to others. Here are key takeaways from Carol Bangura’s experiences in the non-profit sector.


Carve out your niche

“The key piece of advice is to carve out your niche.

As women, we are natural nurturers and want to save the world. My brand centers on empowering girls through education and social initiatives.”

Carol Bangura has been able to create a cost-effective method of purchasing new books and shipping them locally within the US and internationally to Sierra Leone.

girls_schoolswithoutbordersCarol shipped the first set of books internationally to Sierra Leone in 2007 and has cultivated relationships in Sierra Leone and in the Greater Philadelphia area. Although she ended her program formally in other countries and in the United States, she still conducts informal book donations to girls (and boys) locally with partner organizations.

#MotherlandMogul Tip: First take some time out to discover how you want to improve lives. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? Once you’ve outlined this, think of ways you can join your passion with helping others.

The two skill you need to successfully run a non-profit

“The skills needed in the beginning are fundraising and the ability to have doors close in your face! Everyone will not believe in your dream, you have to believe it yourself.

Starting an organization takes funds. And when you’re ready to implement projects, they must go through the phases of planning, implementation, and evaluation.”

In a nutshell, you should answer the questions,

  • What are you going to do?
  • How are you going to do it?
  • After you’ve done it, how would you determine its success?
Carol Bangura: Soon after launching your non-profit create a strategic and financial plan. Click To Tweet

Registering a non-profit organisation

“Documentation varies from state to state; and country to country. Research should be conducted to determine what is needed to register an organization.

There isn’t a one size fits all checklist to start a nonprofit because it depends on the type of organization, its location, board structure, etc.”

Carol’s organisation is registered in the United States and though she operates in Sierra Leone, she’s not familiar with what’s required there.

In the US, every state has its own rules and then every municipality does as well. The federal government requires a 401c determination but that process is very complicated and Carol has done it in the past for others as a consultant.

#MotherlandMogul Tip: If you’re based in Nigeria, Ivie Eke shares 3 major points on starting and sustaining an NGO here.

What do first after launch

“Prior to launching and/or within the first six months to a year, a strategic plan should be created. You will also need to create a funding plan.”

The key to doing this was trial and error. For years Carol wrote grants before finally obtaining unrestricted funding to carry out her GIRLS! project.

“Grant writing is daunting due to the checks and balances, but it’s not impossible to do on your own.”reading_schoolswithoutborders

Carol identified planning, implementing, and evaluating as the most important skills to hone to perfection.

Final words from the brilliant Carol Bangura;

“Nothing comes easy, especially for us as African women who choose nontraditional roles and have the audacity to step out of the box.

The pain of my past as a victim of gender-based violence fuels my passion; without passion in what can be a thankless job, you’re more likely to be burned out.”


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here