Pietermaritzburg - Seeing young teenagers walking around pregnant spurred ambulance assistant Zodwa Msibi (27) into action to try and educate young girls about HIV/Aids, gender-based violence, teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
Msibi has now been honoured for her work in educating female pupils in secondary schools at the 2015 Netcare 911 Carer of the Year awards.
Speaking to The Witness yesterday Msibi, herself the mother of two daughters, said: “I know a lot about teenage pregnancy because I got pregnant at a young age. Being raised by very strict parents I went back to school and carried on with my studies.”
“Seeing girls aged 15 and 16 walking around with big tummies really made me sad. Some of these are not lucky like some of us, so they are forced to leave school and raise the child. Some parents are not as open about such things with their children, which is why I wanted to help educate female pupils,” said Msibi.
The award ceremony was held in Sandton recently.
“I wasn’t expecting this award. I did not even know there were people noticing my work. I was really shocked that something as simple as talking to girls about such issues would get me an award one day,” she said.
Msibi, who is based at Netcare 911’s Alberlito operations, began her education campaign at a school in KwaDukuza and then took the initiative to Newcastle, where it was so successful that other schools asked her to share her message with their pupils.
Netcare 911 managing director Noeleen Phillipson said: “We are very proud to acknowledge Zodwa for her outstanding initiative in equipping young women with valuable knowledge that will empower them to make proactive and informed choices for their future.
“The reason for this campaign is to help teenage girls be independent. Raising a child by yourself is no joke, so by educating them at a young age we are hoping to decrease the incidence of teenage pregnancy. For those who are already pregnant, we can teach them about the importance of being independent,” said Msibi.
“At the moment I am looking for sponsors,” she added.