Siphesihle Shongwe is the founder of S.I.G.T which stands for Soaring High It’s a Girls Thing.
She started the organisation in 2017, with her sister, Lomkhosi, with the objectives of improving the lives of underprivileged children and youth in the Motshane Community, which is situated in the Hhohho district within the Kingdom of Eswatini (Swaziland).
S.I.G.T.’s main focus is to empower kids with the supply of clothes, books and toys through the Neighbourhood Care Point Centres (NCP) in the region.
The book donations are important, specifically, as they form part of a library created for children to begin using while they are still young as some tend to struggle in school – the aims here are to cultivate a culture of reading from a young age.
The youth are also encouraged to get involved in agricultural projects whereby the crops they grow are sold within the community and S.I.G.T. is currently in the process of registering a cooperative to commercialise this farming.
Some school leavers, predominantly girls, are involved in the making of hand crafted (emagcebesha) swazi beaded necklaces that are usually sold to tourists as a means of generating income and sustaining themselves – Siphesihle sees this as a vehicle towards financial independence.
Her aim for the youth is to equip them with educational and entrepreneurial skills while providing them with career guidance. The team also works with clinics and police in the area to educate people around gender-based violence and other health related issues.
Growing up, Siphesihle always had a passion for children and this, coupled with an inner desire to help change and improve the lives of the underprivileged and vulnerable children brought her where she is today.
Her vision is see the project expanding to other regions within the Kingdom of ESwatini. She envisions the S.I.G.T. agricultural and hand crafts projects expanding to a commercial scale with produce being sold to other SADC countries enabling the producers to fund their own studies.
Looking ahead, she would like to see more young people in leadership positions in forums and on platforms where their voices can be clearly heard.