Vision

Just and resilient communities where youth engage with their full potential.

Mission

We nurture connection between youth and existing resources within the community.

What we do

We seek to create interpersonal spaces of learning that recognize the multiple forms of wisdom we all have to share with one another. Seeking to create more just futures, we focus on youth to equip young citizens with strong values and leadership competence. We believe in a world where youth are supported by a whole community, tapping into existing networks and opportunities that can lead to income generation, skills sharing, and increased well-being. Our programs enable interpersonal exchange among people in order to collectively find sustainable solutions to social and environmental problems, through:

  • Training programs and workshops focusing on constructive communication as well as on personal, participatory, and people-led development
  • Business skills development and youth entrepreneurship
  • Networking, collective learning, and community connection

Thank you.

For news and updates, please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp or sign up to our Newsletter where we communicate the latest developments and activities.

Do you want to find out more? Please message us at info@amava.org.

Team

Core team

Profile picture of Theresa Wigley.

Theresa Wigley

Theresa grew up in the rural Eastern Cape in a family that strove to live a lifestyle friendly to the planet and accessible to all. From a young age she was exposed to a diversity of realities that created the foundation for her deep love for people, the land and the relationships between them.

She has over 15 years experience in the communications industry where she used her powerful visual storytelling skills to distil complex information into compelling content to make it accessible to much wider audiences. She believes that in order to overcome many of the barriers that are stacked against the majority, we need to remember old ways and create new ways that allow for each other to be authentically seen and heard, and this is what drives her passion in the communications field.

Teresa Boulle

Teresa believes that sustainable development can only happen when people of all kinds are inclusively engaged in a change making process. She gets excited when people can work step by step to identify and break entrenched patterns to improve their personal well-being and growth.

She grew up in Germany and somehow got stuck with the beautiful souls in South Africa. Over the past 4 years, she has been collaborating with Theresa in the field of sustainable education and youth empowerment and has become an important driver of the strategic developments behind Amava Oluntu. Her background lies in organizational development and fundraising.

Sandile Fanana standing in front of an artistic mural.

Sandile Fanana

Sandile’s background is in retail and marketing which enabled him to be close to people. This fed his love for exercising connectivity and sharing of ideas. He loves to engage in topics around education, success and decent jobs in an unequal society. He is working on projects that allow him to learn and express himself using many different kinds of creativity. What inspires him is to see people sharing their gains with those around them so that everyone can rise together.
Elona Mteto profile image.

Elona Mteto

Elona was born and raised in the Eastern Cape in a small Town called Qumbu. He has worked with many community based organisations as a community activist for the greater good of the people and that's where his passion for networking started. He desires the experience of the wilderness and taking journeys of connecting, learning, and appreciating nature as it is. He supports Amava Oluntu because he recognises that he has vital experience that relates to what the organisation wants to achieve and to further his desire to learn and help, share his knowledge, and input on the empowerment of youth.
Joanne du Randt smiling next to a plant with white flowers.

Joanne du Randt

Joanne studied life sciences and public health and is very passionate about health equality and equity. She believes there are many ways to improve health within communities, and one way is through community building and solving social inequalities. She believes Amava Oluntu’s involvement with the communities and youths of Muizenberg makes way for a more sustainable South Africa in more ways than one, whether that be through community upliftment, social justice, or inspiring changemaking dialogue.
Profile image of Marliese with hills in the background.

Marliese Maritz

Marliese has had an interesting and varied career, from investment administration, to shoe-making, cheffing, natural house building and facilities management. But the highlight of those years for her was working in the NGO sector educating scholars and assisting schools in establishing viable permaculture practices and food forests. When she heard about Amava, she recognised a similarity in their ethos and vision, in the work of educating, uplifting and enriching communities. She is currently furthering her studies in accounting and in this role is able to use her skills to contribute to Amava by assisting with financial administration, planning, and management processes.
Realene Adams standing in a garden playing a saxophone.

Raelene Adams

Raelene is a budding entrepreneur and musician based in Muizenberg.

Through the Pollinating Pride in People programme Raelene came into contact with Amava Oluntu at the beginning of 2022 and the relationship has grown from strength to strength.

Raelene is the Brewmaster of Boost, a boegoe and fynbos honey spring water infusion. She also does freelance admin work at SEED in Mitchells Plain where she was a permaculture facilitator for 2021. She is also a founding member of the Vrygrond Garden Project, where a productive garden and community safe space is being cultivated. She believes that individuals can heal themselves through plants and music. Her personal project, Inter-species Music is at the intersection of what gives her joy: nature and art.

Black and white profile image of Zhosai in a white shirt smiling.

Zhosai Johnson

Zhosai believes that the world can only change for the better once internal change happens within, and understands that healing can only take place once we've recognized our past traumatic experiences require healing. This has led to her desire to embed storytelling into her photography and design work. Besides digital marketing, Zhosai likes to experiment with other mediums, exploring her creative skills and developing versatility. She aspires to change the world for the better through her work and through personal interactions with people.

Board of Directors

We are in the process of growing our board. We wish to do this in a way that does not just conform to traditional structures, but rather takes what is valuable from these and blends them with flexibility and an openness to new ways of forming structures that make sense to all of the players in the system. We are therefore seeking carriers of old wisdom, bearers of new ways, path forgers, brave sense makers and moral compasses who hold us to our truth.

Profile picture of Theresa Wigley.

Theresa Wigley

Theresa grew up in the rural Eastern Cape in a family that strove to live a lifestyle friendly to the planet and accessible to all. From a young age she was exposed to a diversity of realities that created the foundation for her deep love for people, the land and the relationships between them. She has over 15 years experience in the communications industry where she used her powerful visual storytelling skills to distil complex information into compelling content to make it accessible to much wider audiences. She believes that every human has something valuable to offer the collective, and that if we can create systems that make these skills transfers easier, we can overcome many of the barriers that are stacked against the majority of people.

As an active member of the day to day operations, Theresa brings to the Board oversight on what's happening on the ground for review, and feeds this back to the working team.

Sandile Fanana standing in front of an artistic mural.

Sandile Fanana

Sandile’s background is in retail and marketing which has fed his love for connecting with others and sharing ideas. He loves to engage in topics around education, what we mean when we talk about success and decent jobs in an unequal society. He is working on projects that allow him to learn and express himself using many different kinds of creativity. What inspires him is to see people sharing their gains with those around them so that everyone can rise together.

Sandile brings to the board the real lived experience of the youth Amava Oluntu serves. His sensitivity to the harsh injustices faced every day at every turn, keep us focused and motivated to create systemic change so that future generations don’t have to undergo the same traumas. He is on the board to keep us real, and also to learn the inner runnings of an organisation so that he can apply these to his own journey in the future.

Yoliswa Mahobe

Yoliswa believes that people flourish when connected to each other and to our purpose. Through the principles of Permaculture she found a platform where her love for people, development, education, nutrition and environment were all housed under one roof. Yoli has a gift with people and a passion that is contagious. She is currently an educational facilitator at the Sustainability Institute in Stellenbosch. Her work includes the design of experiential learning curricula for children, facilitation of permaculture and ecology workshops for adults, and training of the agro-ecology academy students.

Yoli brings to the Board invaluable insights into the spaces between the divides that we strive to span. Her truth speaking continuously grounds us and calls us to attend to assumptions within ourselves before we take any steps out into the world.

Profile picture of Sue Soal with flowers and greenery behind her.

Sue Soal

Sue is a facilitator, evaluator and organisation development (OD) practitioner with a career in supporting public-minded organisations, projects, and initiatives to translate their intentions into practice. She has worked for 33 years in this field and has a deep interest in working reflectively and humanely supporting those she works with to develop an appreciation of the complexity of their situations and then to act on that. As an undergraduate, she studied the sociology and history of work and has a Master’s degree in Philosophy of Education. She has a long-standing commitment to work that builds community and seeks justice.

Sue brings to the Board a lifetime of sense-making of the inner workings of organisations, what causes them to stumble and what helps them to thrive.

Alex in blazer and striped shirt standing in front of a brick wall.

Alex Mveleli Nyamani

Alex Mveleli is inspired by the work being done by civil organisations and feels being part of this brings him the most spiritual fulfilment. He believes we was born for a purpose and that is to do something to support others to fulfil their potentials, and it is with this intent that he joins Amava Oluntu, to pass on his skills and blessings to others.

After completing his BCom in accounting at The University of Fort Hare, he moved into the NGO sector where he could combine his love for numbers and his quest for social justice. Having managed grant funding models locally and internationally for over 10 years, he comes with a vast body of knowledge in financial and organisational management, and we are very excited for him to be joining our team and improving our systems.

Board of Advisors

Profile picture of Nadia Sitas standing in front of delicious monster plant.

Nadia Sitas-Haskins

Nadia is a transdisciplinary researcher working within the science-policy-practice interface on issues related to social-ecological resilience. Her research interests span both the social and ecological spheres and much of her experience comes from engaging in research and practice in southern Africa. For over a decade, she has been involved in applied research where she has focused on understanding knowledge exchange and transgressive processes linked to integrating environmental justice into decision-making contexts. More recently, her work focuses on the role of foresight and futures thinking and how to co-design creative, participatory processes for catalysing change, especially with youth.
Profile picture of Injauru smiling in front of greenery.

Injauru Kulundu

Injairu Kulundu-Bolus is a partner in the Not Yet Uhuru! Collective and Post Doctorate researcher at the Environmental Learning Research Centre at Rhodes University. She is currently collaborating with the Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures Research Network. She is a decolonial scholar, writer, musician, and trickster practitioner that is learning how to alchemise binary based logics towards a paradigm of non-duality. She is interested in fugitive ways of re-imagining and re-sourcing the ambit and lived practice of decolonial love and a paradigm of peace. She is passionate about accompanying young people to create their own rites of passages towards a future worthy of their longing.
Black and white close up photograph of Paul Weinberg.

Paul Weinberg

Paul Weinberg is a South African-born photographer, filmmaker, writer, curator, educationist, and archivist. He began his career in the late 1970’s by working for South African NGOs, and photographing current events for news agencies and foreign countries. He was a founder member of Afrapix and South, the collective photo agencies that gained local and international recognition for their uncompromising role in documenting apartheid, and popular resistance to it. He currently works as an independent curator, archivist and photographer. He supports Amava’s approach that works from the bottom up, empowering people through storytelling to gain strength and wisdom from their experiences and to share that with the world because he believes that stories break down barriers and walls and allow us to see a commonness that excites change and creates consciousness.
Black and white profile picture of Jenny Radloff.

Jenny Radloff

Jenny has spent years working at the interface between activism and the internet, locally and globally. She facilitates and coordinates spaces of exchange between digital rights and feminist activists. She works on self, collective and organisational care, responding to the trauma of systemic oppression experienced by so many activists. Time in the wilderness of the ocean and land keep her grounded and joyful, as does quiet space, Buddhist practice, and her tribe of godchildren. She is passionate about people coming together around issues that matter to their lives, sharing lived stories and shaping potential solutions. She is interested in resilience forged from working through the complexity of life in creative, fun, open ways to shift stuck beliefs and narratives. As she grows older, learning across generations has become particularly important to her.
Michele in a red sweater with mountains in the background.

Michelle Twomey

Michèle works with systems in different contexts ranging from public to private sector including corporate companies, community-based organisations, education, healthcare, and academia. She is a collaborator, organisational coach, creative, and researcher interested in transformational, immersive experiences and systemic change. Michèle has a PhD in Public Health and draws on her background experience where she co-created, prototyped and validated the South African Triage Scale used in emergency centres and emergency care services across South Africa & Africa, selected MSF field hospitals and parts of Europe. She is fascinated by change in organisations as well as the conditions and contextual processes that enable this. She uses the theory and practice of Gestalt, Emotional Intelligence, Biomimicry, and Warm Data to support leaders in cultivating their influence as catalysts, their personal presence and field awareness to nurture generative relationships through dialogue.
Black and white profile picture of Errol Smith smiling.

Errol Smith

Errol has thirty years of experience in the field of organisational and personal development. He has been involved in Corporate compliance, strategic development, team building and occupational safety and health. Over 22 years, he worked in the SA Navy in various posts and consulted in organisational development, research and development of leadership training.
Profile image of Ashley Mouton smiling with greenery in the background.

Ashley Mouton

Ashley is a Director at Community Women Action (NPO) in Eerste River. He has been actively volunteering and working within the NPO/NGO sector on women and youth development for the past 15 years. His main focus area is skills development and sustainable livelihoods for marginalised women, youth, persons living with disability, and LGBTQI groups. He has worked alongside various funding organisations as a facilitator, manager, board member and director at several organisations. He wishes to use this knowledge to support the mission and vision of Amava Oluntu.

Mzukise Zele

Mzukisi has ten years experience working within environmental education and permaculture training and implementation. He is dedicated to working with people to create more resilient systems that aren’t at the expense of the natural world and lead to healthier lives for all.
He is currently in the process of putting all of his experience into practice, growing off grid land stewardship and building the collective systems of governance required.
Profile picture of Mthwakazi in a red coat and red headdress.

Mthwakazi (Bongiwe Lusizi)

Xho-pera, bow music, rural activist and future builder – this is Mthwakazi who hails from Eastern Cape, South Africa. Mthwakazi is a rural activist, a Xhosa Opera singer, songwriter and performer who was vocally trained at the London Trinity College from the age of 13. Currently a senior fellow for the Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity (AFRE) hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Colombia University, she focuses on inequalities and the resilience of rural people towards identity and belonging. Her focus is on the healing of women and men and building activism in rural and urban communities. She is interested in creating spaces to come together to talk about gender inequality and to provide solutions for each other on how to overcome the gendered exercise of power in households and society. Her work is grounded by the questions “Who heals the healer?” and “Why heal?”

Founding Members

Amava Oluntu was founded in 2017 by Theresa Wigley, Yoliswa Mahobe, Mzukise Zele, and Calvin Dias. During a trip to the Eastern Cape, which led to the formation of Amava Oluntu, they were deeply moved by the abundance of knowledge and resources in the villages that they visited. This ignited the desire to create pathways of exchange between rural and urban centres of informal learning where connection could be restored, lost knowledge could be remembered and new knowledge could be gained. The belief was that through this sharing, both urban and rural communities could be revitalised. This vision continues to burn brightly for those who are taking the work forward now.

Collage of images of founding members of Amava Oluntu.