Chesnay is a junior leader of BRAVE, a girl-led organisation based in Manenberg, in South Africa.
At just 16 years old, Chesnay is a Matriarch in her own right. She is using her experience to help empower other young girls and has become a role model for girls in her community.
Chesnay and the other BRAVE girls are facing challenges that no one should have to face, but rather than allow their circumstances to determine their futures, they are taking a stand. They are using their voices to fight for change, to make their communities and lives safer and to empower other young girls.
Our team met Chesnay during the first hard Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa. Her hopefulness, resilience, and radiant positivity during such a difficult time was truly inspiring.
BRAVE is a creative, innovative, and inspiring movement led by girls, which is dedicated to empowering young girls and giving them the agency they need to become leaders.
For young girls like Chesnay, life in Manenberg can be extremely challenging. Manenberg is a vulnerable community in the Western Cape that is plagued by high levels of gang violence.
In communities like this, young girls are often far more resilient than they should ever have to be. On a daily basis, they face threats of gang violence, sexual assault, gender inequality and poverty.
The schools and other services in communities like Manenberg are often also under-resourced, which results in there being even fewer opportunities available for young girls.
Since its inception, BRAVE has been dedicated to creating opportunities for girls, and works with those who can provide the resources, knowledge, experience, and safety that girls need to become strong future leaders.
BRAVE uses the challenge of travel and adventure to empower girls to tell their own stories, acquire critical skills, and build networks to assist with education, healthcare access, economic empowerment, and safety.
The BRAVE girls have also become fierce advocates for other girls, travelling to different countries throughout Africa to document their stories and speak out on the issues girls are facing like child marriage, gender bias and genital mutilation.
Before joining BRAVE, Chesnay felt alone and felt that her dreams were not achievable. BRAVE has changed this, by providing a safe space, mentorship and the support Chesnay needs. Chesnay has overcome so many challenges and is not allowing her circumstances to hold her back.
Young girls like Chesnay need to be at the centre of conversations surrounding the future of our world. Their voices need to be at the forefront as we work to address issues like gender inequality, climate change, access to education and women’s rights.
“My community is rough
It is tough
My community is full of gangsters
It is very contagious
My community is noisy at all times
My community is open
It also is full of surprises
My community is free
It is loved
My community is incredible
My community is open-minded
The community I live in is fascinating
It is happy and unbothered
My community is bold and strong
My community is just not enough.”
- A Poem written by Chesney Moses.
Photos by Gary Van Wyk.