Igniting the flame to succeed

Igniting the flame to succeed in youngsters from less affluent communities is what multi-skilled life coach Shamillah Wilson is after.

Founded in 2012 with the aim of helping youngsters reach their greatest potential, Project Ignition, which Ms Wilson founded, has since changed its focus to empower these youngsters in more than just combatting HIV/Aids.

Inyathelo Philanthropy award-winner and Project Ignition founder, Shamlllah Wilson.

The Woodstock-based organisation has since integrated the lessons to reach a further 50 youngsters the following year.

“Each year, we have expanded our reach and refined our strategy to ensure that we support young people with the critical social and emotional competencies needed for them to live impactful and happier lives.

“Our six-month leadership programme is targeted at young people between the ages of 16 and 22 who are in high schools.

“During this period, participants develop the ability to take leadership in their own life through a combination of knowledge, skills development and experiential processes that will enable them to enrich their knowledge, be inspired, network and also seek out new opportunities for growth. The programme consists of five modules which include: inner leadership, outer leadership, entrepreneurship, money magic and social responsibility,” Ms Wilson explained.

With more than 12 years experience in leadership development, management and human development Ms Wilson has worked in the educational sector at the University of Cape Town (UCT), government, and for corporates nationally and internationally.

Ms Wilson, originally from Hanover Park, said where you come from should never determine where you are going, nor what you become.

“My parents worked in the clothing industry and my mother always said to me, ‘my child, you don’t want to be doing the work I am doing’. And I was not one of those popular kids in the community, so I sort of did the extraordinary things to be recognised.

“I was always buried in a book, so much that it became a household joke.

“Growing up in Hanover Park was fun for me. It taught me so many things that I believe had I been raised in a different community I would not have known. I now live in Athlone and still go back to Hanover Park from time to time, despite what the people say about the community,” she said.

Ms Wilson holds a BA degree from UCT and an MBA from the University of Liverpool.

And not only is she the founding member of the Youth Against Aids Network, she is also the founding chairperson of Sonke Gender Justice Network and has been an advisor to the Global Fund for Women and the African Women’s Development Fund for almost 10 years.

Adding to her impressive CV Ms Wilson’s name has been added to the 2015 list of Inyathelo Philan­thropic Women.

Established in 2007, the Inyath­elo Philanthropy Awards were established by the South African Institute for Advancement to acknowledge, celebrate and profile those who have committed their personal resources towards broader social development in South Africa. Philanthropists are nominated by their peers and members of the communities in which they work or by the non-profit organisations that they support.

The awardees are chosen according to specific criteria by a panel of highly respected independent judges and are made in various categories such as art, youth, health, education among others in an effort to acknowledge the full spectrum and diversity of philanthropic giving in South Africa.

‘The award is something that had never even crossed my mind. I saw the email and at the time it didn’t really mean much to me. But my colleagues were very excited about it. While stuck in traffic that afternoon it finally dawned to me and immediately I became very emotional. I do what I do for the love of the community and not for recognition. As much as I appreciate the award, it kind of adds pressure to the work we do,” said Ms Wilson.

To join the Project Ignition programme, send a motivation stating why you would like to be part of the 20 young people who go through the programme to sham@projectignition.co.za.