Lindiwe Shongwe is a Social Development Practitioner and has been part of the WOF family for just over a year. Lindiwe shared her story, titled “My strength as a woman, rising up”, at the annual Women’s Month Conference held earlier this month
“Talking to such beautiful women is a privilege. I am a woman of strength. The strength of a woman is not measured by the impact that the hardships in life have had on her.
It took a long time to prepare what to share with the ladies. It was important to me that the messages I share would be something to be remembered and that it would make an impact.
When I was in university, about the complete my bachelors degree, it was not an easy path. I was pregnant and studying at the same time. One day in particular, I was scheduled to attend a doctor’s check up for my pregnancy and I was also scheduled to write an exam the following morning. When I arrived at the clinic, complications in my pregnancy were detected and I was told that I would be admitted to hospital immediately. This meant that I would miss my exam on the following morning and would be required to repeat the module. I was faced with a challenging decision, whether I would accept what the doctor told me or whether I would use my strength as a woman to negotiate. On the journey of life, God is always present. The doctor agreed to the request. I was now able to write my exam and book myself into the hospital immediately thereafter. When I arrived at the exam venue the following day, I had my packed hospital bags with me as well. As I sat writing my exam, nobody noticed that I was carrying a huge burden. This is the strength of a woman: It is the ability to wear our pain, to wear our challenges like a pair of stilettos and move on. The strength of a woman is not measured by her hardships, it is measured by the extent of her refusal to allow those hardships to determine who she becomes. It is not easy sharing this story. The journey that we are on always has humps, but despite these, when we go outside, when we meet people, when we interact we wear our smiles. No one may know what you are going through. There may be times that you feel that you are unable to wake up but because of your strength as a woman, continue. I managed to complete my degree and God was with me throughout. My daughter is 8 years old now and I am able to share the conversations with her. I am able to explain to her the importance of me needing to go to work. I am able to make her understand. We do not allow the paid to deter our lives. No matter how hard it is, we are able to bounce back and rejoin the groups as through nothing has happened. I am proud to say, I am thankful for my struggles, without them, I would not know the strength I possess.
“Because life is a journey, it did not end there. I completed my studies but I needed to start thinking about the child that I had brought into the world. My life was no longer about me, but also about this innocent child, this innocet soul. In everything I do I look at her and I just want to make all my hardships worthwhile so life will be better for her. Despite having completed tertiary education, it was not easy finding employment. Being the woman of strength, I took every work opportunity given to me. I have swept streets. When the opportunity to be part of the WOF women came my way, I grabbed it with both hands. I joined the WOF programme in August 2020 and I even ran the 2,4km entry requirement. I knew nothing about running but I made it a point that during that selection criteria I would run and ensure that I make it to the next round and in doing so I joined the WOF family. Throughout this journey, I am learning new things and I take up the challenges. Some of us are mothers, others are wives. We are women of strength. I am proud of the woman I am because I went through one hell of a time to become who I am today.