The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic exposed the social inconsistencies in how we all go about our daily lives. It shed light on mental health issues as well as the value of wellness practices like meditation and yoga.
The Gratitude Project, led entirely by an all-female team of Ditebogo Rametse, Lebogang Rametse and Letlhogonolo Tsoai, who worked together to bridge the gap for young and disadvantaged women in South African communities.
A closer look
The Gratitude Project empowers girls and young women with resources to create positive life choices about sexual health, leadership, and entrepreneurship. It is a wellness and leadership academy that uses social media and a messaging app to deliver educational content. The project includes a digital leadership academy focused on starting and accelerating businesses through inspiring content and access to entrepreneurs; financial education to support both business and domestic budgeting, and sexual health and wellness education through yoga and daily affirmations.
It is a space for young women wishing to make positive life choices and having agency over their bodies. The Gratitude Project gives them access to world-class health professionals and mentors to help disadvantaged young women to walk the journey from adolescence to adulthood, whilst teaching them to be cognisant of what they already have and to practice gratitude.
The Aspire Higher journey
Aspire Higher is a social investment initiative that has transformed the way in which we practice social responsibility and development in Africa. Launched in 2021, the Aspire Higher competition shortlisted and funded post-graduate students at the Witwatersrand University to conduct projects that tackle the scourge of HIV/AIDS, as well as the associated issues of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The Gratitude project was shortlisted as one of the four finalists given a year’s worth of funding to carry out their project and impact the community.
Creating change with lasting impact
In their year of implementation, The Gratitude Project implemented many initiatives. They created a WhatsApp platform trusted by girls and young women in the form of a messaging app. By April 2022, the app had 172 users interacting with the content between the ages of 13 to 30.
The project has since hosted over 20 physical yoga classes, distributed yoga mats, hosted wellness events, hosted virtual budgeting and financial literacy workshops. They also partnered with Dr Abigail Lukhaimane an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist to deliver sexual health content, and distributed wellness packs including condoms.
A sustainable future
The team behind the Project learnt that blending sexual health education with wellness and empowerment, diminishes the cultural and religious stigma associated with sex education. Young women require a permanent platform for life orientation and psychosocial support. They plan to scale up the project by Advertise the WhatsApp chatbot on community radio stations, at TVET colleges, high schools and local Facebook groups, to make information more accessible and increase the reach of the project.