Name and Surname: Alexandrea van Roodt
Birthplace: Lotus River, Cape Town
Current location: Muizenberg, South Africa
Business details: Help a Girl, Help a Girl NPO 215-155
Quote that motivates your work:
“The Biggest thing we can do to advance girl children – and women – is education” – Prof. Precious Moloi-Motsepe
“As an African woman, I’ve learned the importance of self-definition and living purposefully. It’s vital that every girl determines, as early as possible, who she is and what her contribution to humanity will be.” – Prof. Thuli Madonsela
- When you were younger, what did you think you’d become?
I always knew I wanted to help people. I just didn’t know in what capacity. I wanted to be a Nurse, a doctor, a scientist and psychologist/psychiatrist. And then I became a mother!
- What are you passionate about?
I think I’m more curious than passionate. I want to know WHY and WHY NOT. I am however, passionate about equality, ensuring that we all have what we need to make sure the playing fields are level. I have a strong passion for community and social development, and I am committed to promoting the values, institutions and practices of skills training, socio-economic empowerment, poverty alleviation, social cohesion and restoring the dignity of less-privileged individuals and youth, especially gender equity and the on-going transformation of society and organisations and organisational development.
- What person has had the most influence on you and your life?
Definitely my parents. They’ve taught me what it means to TRULY give and share and fight for what is fair. Everything and Everyone that I am, is because of the foundation they’ve laid and the opportunities they’ve managed to provide for me.
- What influenced your decision to start this initiative?
The concept for Help a Girl, Help a Girl started six years ago with a four hour long drive venting session about growing up in our communities. My husband and I are both from the “Cape Flats”, Lotus River and Elsies River, respectively. We discussed what it was like growing up in our ‘hoods. And how it affected our frames of reference out in the real world. We discussed at length the difficulties of overcoming poverty, social issues, the necessary mindset shifts that young people from these disadvantaged areas need to be exposed to in order to affect real change. In 2018 on a drive home from work, after seeing a headline on a light pole about PIC investments for 2017/2018, this discussion was reignited and we decided to start building platforms for young black people to ascend from and to afford them opportunities from within their communities.
- Is there a connection between your ‘day job’ and this initiative?
I always wanted to work for a company whose goal was social development. I work in the HIV management sector and I deal with a lot of data, which allows me to look at a much broader perspective and see “what if we did this instead” solutions. It shows me on the daily that our people are not educated on issues that affect their daily lives. It makes me angry, and sad, but mostly it makes me want to do more. To reach more. To balance the scales.
- Tell us about Help a girl, Help a girl?
Help a Girl, Help a Girl is a Non Profit Company which aims to provide Mentoring and Skills Training Programmes to Grade 8 – Grade 12 Girls in the greater Cape Flats Region. Help a Girl, Help a Girl’s goal is to foster a commitment to young girls that will promote skills training, socio-economic empowerment, poverty alleviation, social cohesion and most importantly enforcing and restoring the dignity of underprivileged young women by instilling inter and intrapersonal skills.We strongly believe that through instilling a sense of pride and reinforcing social skills will reassert a sense of hope for the future as well establish a responsibility and accountability that will give young women the commitment to follow through on a path to adulthood with a sense of accomplishment.
Help a Girl, Help a Girl is Project that is in direct response to the growing number of young people, and especially young women, who are either falling through the cracks or are already entangled with undesirable activities and behaviours, as well as young women who do not have access to opportunities that will catapult their future planned endeavours. Another goal of the Project is to offer a positive support system to assist in the pitfalls that these young women will come across that might derail their lives. The focus is slightly different at each level, but the goal remains the same; empower young women to make positive changes in her life so that she can positively contribute to society and her immediate community.
- What makes this project exciting?
Meeting people who want to do the most! For the right reasons. Not for the personal publicity, not for the shine; but those who do it because all they want to see is change, for the better.
The girls we interact with are filled with so much love and yearning to be loved. They’re hungry to be educated, to learn new skills and to meet new, different and interesting people. It’s exciting thinking of new ways to blow their minds. These are girls who might never had a stick of Labello, or their own bottle of shampoo, and seeing their eyes light up when they realise they get to own this, even for a little bit, helps.
- What are some of the challenges you face?
Funding, mostly. Running an NPO is draining, and again, mostly financially. The red tape is exhausting and causes so many delays. Dealing with Government departments is a nightmare – one phone call can turn into an hour from being redirected a billion times.
- How do you wish to grow it? What is your vision for the future of this initiative?
The ultimate goal is to set up a Learning Centre equipped with the necessary tools and resources, where girls, and eventually boys, have a safe space to come and do their homework, assignments, bursary applications, intern, become mentors, create, heal and ascend from.
- What sacrifices did you make to get where you are?
I think it’s unfair to say sacrifices really. The assumption is always that people who run NPO’s have a traumatic past or have gone through horrible experiences. I don’t have much of that. I haven’t had to sacrifice much, (except my sanity most days). Somedays I get by on 4 hours sleep, I guess that’s sacrifice for me.
- If you could give the younger you advise, what would it be?
Trust your gut. You’re usually right and even when you’re not right, you’re not far off. You are important, you’re going to do amazing things and where you are right now is only building you into who you’re going to be.
- What are you most proud of?
My son. I know, I know, it’s so cliché. But really, he makes me want to be better. Without knowing, he makes sit down and humble myself.
Also, growing a Facebook page and being able to feature Women Owned Businesses as well as share their stories – we’ve built a community!
- Would you be willing to share your feature on all your social media platforms? If yes, which handles can we use to tag you?
Facebook: @helpagirlhelpagirlza and @alexandreakimvanroodt and @liewelexie
Instagram: @helpagirlhelpagirlza and @liewelexie