[Caption] Pumeza Mahobe, Project Manager of the Rotary Club of Claremont’s Injongo Educare Project, celebrates the success of the project with the children of an Educare Centre in Philippi, Cape Town.

Women’s Month celebrates the battle for equality in the workplace and society; the sacrifices and hardships women had to endure on their road to success. The Rotary Club of Claremont believes that telling the story of influential women is more important than the holiday itself. Pumeza Mahobe, an inspirational lady, highly involved with the ins and outs of the Club’s Injongo Educare Project, has a story truly worth telling.

Hailing from the small town of Willowvale in the Eastern Cape, Pumeza Mahobe, Project Manager of the Rotary Club of Claremont’s Injongo Educare Project, has first-hand experience when it comes to growing up as a young girl in the poverty stricken villages of the province. Mahobe has a unique understanding of the challenges and implications of living in a household with an unstable income as her father went on early retirement; being raised by her family and the community as a whole when her mother moved to KwaZulu-Natal in search of a job. “We didn’t have any money to spare. This posed a tremendous obstacle to my dream of attending university. However, thanks to the hard work and sacrifices of my family, teachers and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, I had the privilege to attend university and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Education,” says Mahobe.

“Despite the hardship, I don’t regret my childhood as it taught me the spirit of Ubuntu and the important role that education plays in empowering yourself as a woman,” says Mahobe. The life lessons she learned as a child have progressed into her career and into her passion for community upliftment. As the current Project Manager of the Injongo Educare Project, Mahobe is a professional woman that overcame great adversity and who turned her ambition to affect direct change within underprivileged communities into reality.

The Injongo Educare Project focuses on providing the community of Philippi in Cape Town, with fully functioning Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres to ensure a high quality of educational support to the children. The project boasts many holistic interventions such as extensive teacher training, physical upgrades to existing ECD facilities, and daily mentoring for quality assurance. Since 2012, this project has worked with 47 Educare Centres – currently the largest of its kind in South Africa – with a total spend of R12 million to date. “With Pumeza’s support the ECD Centres provide a positive environment that ensure the children receive the best possible educational stimulation from an early age, giving them a real chance at excelling in the future,” explains Ian Robertson, President of the Rotary Club of Claremont. “The teachers are also equipped with the necessary skills needed to ensure that these Educare Centres are sustainable in the long term.”

“Working on the Injongo Educare Project enables me to be an agent of change in the community of Philippi and a front runner in women empowerment,” says Mahobe. “As the project transforms the ECD Centres into professionally run businesses with a business plan, a constitution, a functional governing body, a learning programme for all ages, and confident practitioners who know and love what they do, it empowers the children, teachers and community.”

Mahobe believes that empowering women to liberate themselves from the shackles of poverty and inequality will give them a voice; providing the opportunity to be successful in all their endeavors. “Women have a huge role to play in society. They have the opportunity to inspire, have successful careers, be caregivers,” Mahobe continues. “With these privileges comes a responsibility to encourage empowerment of others through knowledge sharing and by mentoring young girls to be assertive, goal-driven and educated individuals.”

As a true agent of change, project manager, mother of three, and proudly South African women, Mahobe understands the challenges that women have faced over the years, and more importantly, the role that they have to play in society. “It is important to pay homage to the women of our nation. However, let us remain determined in changing the lives of our families, the young women to come after us, and the nation as a whole” she concludes.

For more information on Rotary Club of Claremont, please visit http://claremontrotary.co.za/.