Leading with Empathy and Determination

WDB intern Tinyiko Nkuna is concerned about the mental health of South Africa’s youth and is doing what she can to make a lasting, positive impact on the lives of others.

Tinyiko Nkuna

Giving back is part of Tinyko Nkuna’s love language, so it only makes sense that she has chosen to embark on a career as a social worker.

Freedom Park, Soweto, will always be the place she calls home – despite her many challenges growing up. Tinyko attended E.W. Hobbs Primary School and completed high school at The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls (OWLAG). She recently graduated with a Bachelor’s in Social Work from the University of Pretoria.

She says, “I chose to study a Bachelor of Social Work degree because I received a lot of social work intervention as a child, so I wanted to give back what was given to me.”

Her fourth year of study was a significant highlight – she did practical social work and research and loved engaging with service users in risk assessment and therapy with the children. Interacting with people and being able to do something practical to lend a helping hand has fuelled her yearning to find ways to help others  – especially women and children.

The WDB Connection

WDB has a strong partnership with her former high school, OWLAG, and has committed to sponsoring several students over the years. Tinyiko met WDB’s Lerato Lekhula and Rose Mamabolo when the organisation chose to sponsor her tertiary studies, and the ongoing relationship has been one of mutual admiration and real support.

“Investing in the youth is part of our focus at WDB,” says Rose Mamabolo. “Sometimes all these learners need is assistance with their university fees to get ahead. Our organisation is dedicated to uplifting women and the youth – the WDB Trust is the psychosocial arm of our work – so assisting Tinyiko with her social work study fees was a no-brainer.”


“Investing in the youth is part of our focus at WDB,” says Rose Mamabolo


Once she had completed her studies, Tinyiko applied for an internship at WDB. After sending her CV and a successful interview, she started on the 11th of April, 2023. The internship runs for a year. WDB has various internships, some with the corporate/investment part of the business through WDBIH, and others with the WDB Trust either at the head office or out at one of the field offices. In addition to positions within WDB, internships are held with partner companies and organisations that are part of the wider WDB ecosystem.

Working with Mam Khanyi

Tinyiko’s  current internship is with Mam Khanyisile Motsa, founder of Home of Hope for Girls in Johannesburg. Mam Khanyi was recently acknowledged by the international organization Global Citizen for her dedication to assisting survivors of human trafficking and gender-based violence. She is a legend in her own right – someone who has always led with humanity.

“Mam Khanyi is a wonderful human being with a good heart, who wants things to be done correctly and perfectly at all times,” says Tinyiko. “She is very good with people and has a standard for herself. I am a social work intern doing many things, such as helping with the placement of children, fixing the children’s files, and ensuring that the children at Home of Hope for Girls  are well taken care of. I assist with homework and accompany the children to other programmes such as playdates and the tutoring programme. I also  help prepare for events with sponsors.”

She says she is learning a lot and hopes that the skills and knowledge she learns under Mam Khanyi’s watchful eye will help her in her chosen profession.

“I want to use this platform for professional development and to empower other people who plan to walk on the same path as me. I want to make a difference in the organisation – to add and be valuable. I want to bring hope and change in people’s lives and let them see that believing in oneself and achieving life goals is possible.”

Struggles of the youth

At 22 years old, Tinyiko has concerns for her fellow youth of South Africa, particularly when it comes to mental health. She is honest about the difficulties she experiences balancing her university workload and mental well-being. Still, she admits to having the right people in her corner to ensure she made it but acknowledges that only some people are that lucky.

“The major issues facing the youth are mental health issues, unemployment, and struggling with self-identity in our chaotic world.”


 “The major issues facing the youth are mental health issues, unemployment, and struggling with self-identity in our chaotic world.”


Being a problem-solver by nature, she has some creative solutions for anyone who will listen:  “The youth can be equipped with coping mechanisms to manage mental health issues, but they need to receive psychosocial support and have a support system to help them overcome challenges.”

The plight of unemployment of the youth is a huge problem facing the country and one of the areas of focus for WDB as an organisation.

Tinyiko believes that if the youth are taught different skills, they will be able to make an income for themselves.

She suggests, “Skills development programmes can be implemented from a high school level by the Department of Basic Education partnering with different Non-Government Organisations and Corporate Companies to have career guidance programmes, workshops and possible provision of internships for those who decide to go further with the programmes. In this way, the youth will be equipped with knowledge and skills that can be used to improve the conditions of their families and communities. So different stakeholders such as the government and private sector can fund such a programme.”

WDB’s partnership with youth development organisation PrimeStars and their various programmes such as Step Up 2 A Start Up aims to create a culture of entrepreneurship amongst the youth. However, as Tinyko says, so much more could be done to help the youth of today to find their feet.

Winning with WDB

She thinks that WDB is an organisation that has changed the lives of many women, and she looks forward to completing her internship with the organisation.

“WDB has shown the light in many women’s lives. I am grateful for this organisation as it has allowed me to be something in my life and enables me to change other people’s lives as well.”

Rose Mamabolo says that taking on the role of an intern at WDBIH is not just a temporary measure but an investment in the future of women in South Africa.

“It’s always so wonderful to keep track of our interns as we watch them grow from strength to strength and see their careers unfold. We feel privileged to assist promising young women like Tinyiko to reach their dreams and make an impact in the world out there.”

Tinyiko does not doubt that the future is looking bright for her and she has plans. Big plans. She is very inspired by Mam Khanyi and hopes to run her own organisation one day.

“This will be a place where people are advocated for, empowered, their strengths are recognised and strengthened, and they become resilient through life’s  challenges.”

Tinyiko has come a long way since growing up as a young girl in Freedom Park. She is optimistic and has what it takes to go the extra mile.

“I am a hardworking and helpful young woman who genuinely cares and cares for others. My motto is never fail to try. Fail while trying, and I will continue to strive to make my dreams a reality.”

Home of Hope For Girls

Home of Hope for Girls provides a safe residence to children and teens facing abusive situations, predominantly linked to child sex trafficking. If you would like to contact Mam Khanyi and offer support in any way call: 081 336 7775