The Young Independents (TYI) is all about the commemoration of South Africa’s young inspiring and aspiring leaders.

TYI would like to share stories of hope that serve to inspire our young generation of leaders.

TYI chats to Sibabalwe Quma about her journey:

“The impact of The President’s Award (TPA) on my life is one that is hard to forget, because I can attribute my success as a young black woman to the Award.

I came across TPA at a point in my life where I was comfortable with being by myself, yet felt isolated and just getting by with life. When I started the journey with TPA my shell was constantly being knocked on until I broke out of it and stretched my arms. I found myself having to constantly push myself and break barriers.

Before joining the Award, I never thought anyone would ever be interested in what I had to say, but I often had to provide guidance and advice to other young people also doing the Award. I found myself being able to stand boldly in front of people and share my story; something I had never imagined.

I had reason to believe in myself again. As much as many people see the President’s Award as just young people making a difference, which is correct, the Award to me was more than that … the importance of self-development. I learnt that it is impossible to apply change if change does not happen inside of you first. You literally need to be the change you want see.”

Sibabalwe Quma, better known as Siba, reflects on the impact of the Award on her life whilst a learner at Victoria Girl’s High School (VGHS) in Grahamstown.

She completed all 3 levels of the Award, i.e. Bronze, Silver and Gold whilst at VGHS. She then went on to study at Rhodes university and completed her Post-graduate diploma in International Studies.

Last year, she moved to Cape Town and joined an organisation called African Sunrise that focuses on volunteer placements.

Siba continued her story on the impact of the Programme and said that “after completing the Gold Standard, I knew I wanted to pay it forward by helping young people who are going through a similar process I was when being a teenager: closed off, isolated and just getting by. I want to show them that there is more to life. I want to tell them that the sky is not the limit; in fact, there is no limit, there are always barriers to be broken. Many things happen on the road of life that silence us. I just want to empower them and tell them it does not have to be like that.

Why girls? Because society had been unkind to the girl child and the boy child already have protectors.”

With this vision she decided to start a project called “give the girls a voice” and this was aimed at helping young girls regain their lost voices. She did a workshop for girls at a children’s home and is now working on developing the project to possibly include dialogue workshops.

The biggest challenges in the process of giving the girl child a voice, according to Siba are: making them believe that what they say matters and can make a difference; that they don’t need a male to affirm their value and that they are good enough just as they are; the suppression from cultural beliefs where being a male comes with more power and women have to fight to earn the recognition to be on the same level.

Siba is committed to making a difference. “Life after receiving the Gold Standard of the Award is so important to me, because that’s the real test: what do you do with all you have learnt or do you now stop because there are no more medals in the Award to attain?

For me, The President’s Award became a lifestyle; to strive to develop myself and push beyond boundaries so that when I reach the top of the mountain I can be hope for someone else too.”

Her advice to the girl child is “say what comes to your mind and whatever idea you think of, do it. Don’t be crippled by your fears and limited by the unknown. Your voice matters!”

Stories of Hope is a partnership between TYI and TPA.

Comment on Siba’s story of hope by following @theyoungindy on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

[For more stories of hope, access or submit your story to TYI Editor, Saajida at]

Background to The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment

The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment (TPA) is affiliated to The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award for Young People and is a full member of the International Award Foundation which oversees the Award Programme in over 140 countries globally. TPA creates opportunities for young people to develop character, discover their purpose and determine their future to contribute towards building a great South Africa.

The Award Programme targets 14-24 year olds across the socio-economic spectrum, from public and private schools, children’s homes, correctional centres, tertiary institutions, etc.

Participants progress at their own pace through three levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold. There are four Sections to the Programme that must be done for a specified minimum period of time, for each level: Skills; Physical Recreation; Service and; an Adventurous Journey.

In addition, a Residential Project is required for the Gold level. On achieving an Award, participants would have developed many skills, behaviours and attitudes that equip them to succeed in life and work.

TPA is a registered non-profit organisation (004-920NPO) with Public Benefit Organisation status, registered with SARS (PBO#930001329).

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