Lighting the way for Lalela learners
March 06, 2023
Did you know that Lalela is a women-founded and women-led organisation? This International Women’s Month, we’re proud to introduce one of our senior team members, Nwabisa Ndogeni, who’s risen from facilitator to programme manager in her eight years with Lalela.
Tell us more about your journey as part of the Lalela team?
I started in 2015 as a foundation phase facilitator for learners from grades 1 to 3. Later that year I joined the curriculum writing team for Lalela’s Leadership and Female Empowerment programmes. In 2016 I got an opportunity to facilitate the June/July AG3 holiday programme for three high schools. I had always wanted to facilitate at high school level, so when I was promoted to the position of Masiphumelele Programme Coordinator in 2021—teaching across all age groups and taking on a leadership role—it was my biggest highlight. This year I have taken on a new role as Programme Manager, overseeing all Lalela’s facilitators in the Western Cape.
What are the most important aspects of your role?
Supporting facilitators in reaching their full potential, motivating them to do their work passionately and whole-heartedly, strength-based interventions when there are challenges so that everyone can feel valued and acknowledged. Relationship-building with schools and other organizations. Site visits are imperative to ensure quality and impactful programmes.
How important is mentorship?
The purpose of mentoring is to help mentees to tap into the knowledge of those with more experience than themselves and learn faster than they would on their own. Mentoring allows people to learn from one another, providing a path to knowledge transfer. Being a mentor provides fulfillment and the satisfaction of helping others and contributing to the development of colleagues. As a mentor I’m also encouraged to renew my ideas and perspective on my own leadership role.
Above: Nwabisa (far right) at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair 2023 with learners from Masiphumelele who were under her tutelage last year. These young artists’ work was selected for display at Lalela’s booth.
Why is arts education such an essential component in child development?
Arts education is the only subject that helps people re-write their story, where there is no right or wrong. It increases learners’ engagement, encourages collaboration through teamwork, and enables them to grow in confidence and learn how to think positively about themselves. Kids learn positive habits and attitudes. Art enhances creativity and critical thinking, leading to improved academic performance.
What’s the direct impact you’ve seen on learners in Lalela programmes?
Lalela learners always get leadership roles in the school and community at large, even those who are not academically strong. Their confidence is always unmatched. They tend to become role models to their peers and to the little ones. Our learners truly develop grit and perseverance, and are always hungry for opportunities. When they go on to further their studies after matric, when they embark on meaningful careers as adults, then I know we are doing the right thing. It’s the reason why this doesn’t feel like a job but a part of who I am.
Above: “When you see a learner literally realise what they are capable of after finishing an art piece they were reluctant to do, or said they couldn’t do. That sense of achievement and mastery is my favourite.”
What are the biggest personal rewards of your work?
Helping learners realise their full potential, and championing a child no one else believes in. When you see a learner literally realise what they are capable of after finishing an art piece they were reluctant to do, or said they couldn’t do. That sense of achievement and mastery is my favourite. Witnessing behavior change in a learner, when they start making good informed decision for themselves. And when alumni come back years later and share with you how you positively contributed to their journey in their early years—that makes me sleep better at night. There’s also nothing like getting a thank you letter from a parent.
What has been the greatest lesson you have learned?
To respect learners or people in general regardless of what they do for a living or where they are from.
How do you relax or find ways to regulate in light of the work that you do?
I listen to music, and do scrapbook and creative writing, which I find therapeutic. I am back to my healthy habits, which include cooking healthy meals, going for long walks or hiking in nature, and swimming.
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