My name is Mbali Mngomezulu. I am a member of Girl Guides South Africa (GGSA). I’m 30 years old, and I represent the youth of the Girl Guides on our national board as its Youth Board Member. I’m also Regional Secretary, Regional Ranger Adviser, Regional International Commissioner and the chairperson of the YESS Girls Alumnae South Africa.
Alongside my Guiding commitments, I am currently studying for a Bachelors of Education, and I’m a businesswoman – I run a company that manufactures detergent - and I’m also a Netball coach.
I have been in Guiding for more than 20 years, starting as a brownie, and in 2015 I had the privilege of joining WAGGGS’ YESS Girls exchange programme. I travelled to Norway, Kenya and was then on-exchange in Uganda for 6 months. While on exchange I learnt a lot and shared my knowledge with others too. By the time I returned home my life had changed so much. I was privileged to get Guiding positions as a Regional Secretary and also a Regional Ranger Adviser. In these roles, I did many trainings with girls and young women from WAGGGS' Free Being Me programme and also it's Stop the Violence campaign as well as many other national and regional trainings.
I learnt about WAGGGS’ Her Voice Her World programme in December 2020. I was so excited to learn about it as it is aims to help young people to have a voice in governance and take part in solving challenges that are faced by young girls and women around the world. The project has given many young women the opportunities to lead.
Our Region - Kwazulu Natal Region - is always working to get more girls involved in Guiding, especially from under-represented communities. There is still a lot of poverty and unemployment among the youth here. Most girls do not have access to proper education and many quit school well before they turn 18 years old. Through the Her World Her Voice programme, we can empower those girls to complete their education and to raise their voices on the issues that affect them.
As the Youth Board member my responsibility is to represent the needs and aspirations of youth and serve as a link between the Board and the Youth Resource Committee. As the only young person among eight Board members, I feel respected and know that my voice is heard. It is my hope that we can have more young people serving on the board too.
I have learnt a lot of important skills from all my roles – they have helped me grow as a person. I have learnt to communicate effectively with different people from different backgrounds, levels of knowledge, and ages.
At first, dealing with the different ways older adult leaders wished to communicate was frustrating, and a challenge for someone like me who is much younger, but now I enjoy it. Working with different people has helped me to learn from them and be always be open to new ideas.
Having young people in leadership positions is vital for the organisation because it attracts young people to join the organisation and also retains them. Having many ‘hats’ (responsibilities) is fun and challenging. That’s why Guiding is different from other organisations - we have fun while we work!