She keeps on thriving

“Everything you want is on the other side of dedication. Anything you put your mind to, you can accomplish.”

02 March 2021 | Youth

Rivaldo Kavanga

The name Thrive Vinomaandero brings sparks when mentioned in a room. The very fact that her name, Thrive, means to grow, prosper or flourish already tells you what Thrive Vinomaandero is all about. She is a 20-year-old psychology and German studies student at the University of Namibia and an activist and feminist writer. She is the national secretary for gender, disability, marginalised communities and social welfare for the Namibia National Students Organisation (NANSO), as well as a volunteer and project coordinator for the Young Feminist Movement of Namibia.

Thriving Leadership

“Leadership did not really 'kick in' for me, it has been part of who I am since I was a little girl. Growing up I was always described as 'bossy', it stuck and allowed me to take up incredible roles that have shaped the leader I am today,” says Thrive. She is a volunteer for the Take Back Project under the Young Feminist Movement of Namibia, which aims to encourage writing, especially in indigenous languages, as a form of activism. The goal is to give adolescent girls and young women, particularly those in rural areas, the platform to reclaim their narratives and tell their own stories.

“We have hosted workshops at Opuwo, Witvlei and Windhoek and have collected poems, pieces and stories from these individuals for publishing in a booklet,” says Thrive. As the secretary of gender, disability, marginalised communities and social welfare for NANSO, she is the chairperson of the organisation’s women’s subcommittee, responsible for the promotion and articulation of NANSO’s policy on women and disabled persons and she monitors and promote the right of young women, marginalised and disabled persons to education and their participation in social life.

“I advocate for women, girls and non-binary individuals. My dream is to create a Namibia that is safe for women and queer people to be able to exist without being constant targets of abuse. To have complete autonomy over our bodies and be able to do as we like; to be financially independent and empowered as best we can. That is what I advocate for.” Her greatest strength is her ability to be resilient. “Very little can break my will for life and I admire this about myself,” she says.

Hurdles

Thrive say the biggest national problem in Namibia for the girl child is sexual and gender-based violence. “Being a survivor of sexual abuse myself, it is something I hold very close to my heart. Nothing is more dehumanising than this,” says Thrive.

Although she has reached her current milestones, there has been some challenges along the way.

“Some of my greatest challenges were teaching myself how to stay authentic to myself and the things I believe in. I also had to learn how to stand up for myself, being a woman in this male-driven world, you cannot allow anyone to walk all over you.”

The Future

Her biggest goals are becoming a published author and a registered psychologist.

“The mind is where thoughts that become actions are born and when one is able to conquer and take care of their mind, they are able to conquer the world. In terms of writing, it is my deepest passion and I believe bearing your soul to share with others is the greatest form of bravery.”

Her dreams are what get her out of bed every morning. She is an ambitious young woman and will stop at nothing to accomplish the dreams and goals she has set out for my life. “Everything you want is on the other side of dedication. Anything you put your mind to, you can accomplish.”

Thrive does not have a specific role model but rather people that inspire her to be better in different aspects of life. “These include my mother, Florence Mahua, Ester Simon and the way she has paved for women in student politics, the trailblazing Emma Theofelus being Africa's youngest minister, in terms of writing Beauty Boois and the way they write relatable and very important stories. These are only to mention a few,” she says.

Her message to young girls is to stay authentic to yourself and your dreams; chase after the things you want. “Keep your eyes on God and always be a little bit of a wild woman because good girls rarely make history,” Thrive says.

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