Faith Dowelani has an unusual mix of professional interests, being both a quantity surveyor and a beauty salon owner.
As a quantity surveyor she’s worked for the company MLC and lectured in the subject at the University of Venda. On the beauty side, her Tshavhudi House of Beauty employs four full-time and three part-time employees in Thohoyandou in Limpopo.
But neither of those are what qualifies her as an unsung hero. That comes from her work in mentoring young girls to uplift her rural community.
“In my spare time I mentor a group of girls between 12 and 22 years old. They meet on Saturday in a girls’ school that teaches moral regeneration and cultural dances. I help them by being an elder sister, supporting them financially and emotionally,” Dowelani says.
“Being a mentor has made me a better person. I spend time with the girls teaching them the importance of education and self-love. A mentor is like a guardian angel: someone who offers a helping hand, an ear to listen and a guiding voice to those who aspire to do and be better.”
Dowelani also mentors through the South African Breweries 18+ Be the Mentor programme. It’s an initiative that encourages young adults to help teenagers make positive life choices, including staying away from alcohol and other toxic substances and situations. She hopes that by providing enjoyable and meaningful activities for youngsters in Thohoyandou, she can help to steer them away from poor life choices.
The girls have also taught her some lessons, she says. One of them taught her that no obstacle is too big to overcome. “One mentee lost her mom recently and she was stronger than I could ever have been. She showed me that she could pick up the pieces and make the best of her situation.”
She hopes her mentees will grow to be successful, educated women who go on to make their own mark in the community.
For herself, she plans to grow her salon into a hub of well-being and expand it into a one-stop bridal shop.
She is also honing her qualifications and wants to return to teaching one day. “I have a gift. I would love to go back to that space once I have completed my MSc in property development and management and done a PhD.” — Lesley Stones