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Rekgonne Warriors Foundation: GBV survivor rises above nightmare situation

Rekgonne Warriors – A Foundation for Victims by Vi
Written by Health-e News

At least half of all South African women have been victims of gender-based violence (GBV). Lena Mogolegwa is one of them and has used her experience to establish a foundation to help other survivors be victors and not victims, writes Pamela Madonsela.

Mogolegwa, a 35-year-old from Manamakgoteng, a village in Moruleng Rustenburg, launched Rekgonne Warriors – A Foundation for Victims by Victors.

“I didn’t want others to go through what I went through alone. So, I decided to fill the gap to not only make a difference for them but for myself too. It’s something I’ve longed for and needed … simply to say: ‘I believe you and it’s going to be okay’,” she said.

Rakgonne Warriors tackles hardcore issues

Mogolegwa, a rape survivor, said the foundation came at a time when no one believed in her.

“My family felt that an 8 to 5 is the only way to go so it was tough getting this off the ground.  I saw a need, a gap, because young girls were going through the same without suport, awareness or empowerment. We try to alleviate the root of the problem by eradicating trauma, poverty and unemployment. We have soup kitchens, feeding schemes, clothing donations and door-to-door interventions to help child-headed families, abused women and disadvantaged families. Our foundation is also very excited about our upcoming Victim Offender Mediations (VOM) programs.”

Mogolegwa told Health-e News how she was arrested for murder, a crime she didn’t commit.

“I was raped at the age of 16 and was denied justice. So, I had to suck it up and grow up. A year later, when someone tried to rape me again, my friends and I fought back and one of the guys shot the offender which landed me in prison for murder. But, because God is still God, I was eventually found not guilty and released,” she explained.

Forgiveness the solution

“This experience has taught me that forgiveness is not for the next person but for me. When I forgive the next person, I stop being prisoner to their transgressions and regain my power. I’ve also realised that family isn’t always people you share DNA with but the people we meet along the way who choose to stay in our lives, through good and bad. They want to see you grow and become great. These people celebrate even your minor achievements.”

As we mark 16 Days of Activism, Health-e News asked Mogolegwa if the government is doing enough to alleviate this pandemic.

She replied: “Government doesn’t live in our communities; hence such things don’t exist in their suburbs. Government is not a structure but several individuals. It is our responsibility to bring and implement change in our spaces for ourselves and our children. If we are going to rely on handouts, we are doomed. We live by the saying ‘for us, by us’. If we can realise our power we possess, we can be a force to be reckoned with – unstoppable and undefeated.”

Family keeps her going

Mogolegwa describes herself as a person who is consistent, an investor and passion driven. She said being a mother to her beautiful children, Tshegofstso and Tshepiso, keeps her going.

“What inspires me to do better are my two beautiful angel children Tshegofstso and Tshepiso (my blessing and promise from God). Secondly, my lover, friend and colleague Phathuxolo, (#1 cheerleader), and my two crazy best friends in the world Judy and Adelina, who have my back no matter what. And, of course, the cherry on top is the successful stories of victims who transform into victors.”

Looking ahead, she’d love to see her foundation branch out into other provinces.

“We used to help all around the country before COVID-19, so we’d obviously need to restart that process. The goal is to expand in five years and run solid, independent branches with even stronger teams who understand our vision,” said Mogolegwa.

She said other women who are victims of GBV should stop blaming themselves and start forgiving themselves.

“If you can stop looking down in shame and tilt your head to look up in that moment. Discover your strength, talk to someone. There is always someone you can help you figure your way out of any situation.” – Health-e News 

 

 

 

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Health-e News

Health-e News is South Africa's dedicated health news service and home to OurHealth citizen journalism. Follow us on Twitter @HealtheNews