Petunia: Girl Power!

Names: Petunia Koitsioe
Year Joined the enke family: 2011
Community Issue: Youth Empowerment
Hometown: Johannesburg, Gauteng


Petunia grew up in Soweto with a love of stories; of hearing them, creating them and recording them. Over the years, so many of the stories she heard reflected experiences vastly different to her own. Through these stories a sense of injustice grew in her and a desire to change the stories’ endings.

After volunteering at Ikamva Youth who referred her to enke’s Ignition Program, Petunia joined enke as an Igniter in 2011.  It was this experience that inspired her to form the “Girls to Be Known” initiative in 2012, working with two high schools in Soweto to mentor the girls through a program similar to the enke: Forum.

Girls to Be Known was about changing the script on what was possible for young women and using self- and contextual- awareness for positive social change. “I started with girls because I started with myself”, says Petunia, as this is where most journeys of insight and change start.  And as much as Petunia sought to share her knowledge with them, she says she’s sure she learned more from them.  But she also icludes lessons on how to run a business, networking, research skills, how to apply for funding and to successfully engage with different organisations on her list of most important things learnt.

Although the initiative has stopped now, Petunia is still contact with some of the girls. In fact, three of them ended up on the Trailblazer Program in 2013, the year that Petunia was also an enke: Presenter. She has also worked with enke to organise for some of the girls to be part of the ‘Take a Girl Child to Work’ campaign.

Since completing Girls to Be Known, Petunia sees that working in the system to create sustainable change is a lot more complex than she thought. So she has started studying law and learning to “get to the core of knowledge, the core of society” so she can be more effectual in creating change.  Nowadays she is still telling stories through her advocacy work with a pro-bono legal organisation.

We want to reach 1000 more young people like Petunia by the end of 2015.  You can help us support more projects like this by contributing to our crowdfunding campaign here: http://igg.me/at/enkeMYM/x/828715 

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