The idea for enke was formed while Tom Walsh, Philippa (Pip) Wheaton and Kathryn Maunders, the three founders, were working in some of the most under-resourced schools in KwaZulu-Natal. These international volunteers realised that the young people they were working with were all dissatisfied about the situations in their schools, their communities, their cities, but weren’t being given a chance to make the changes they wanted to see.
Recognizing a need for a space where young people from all backgrounds could come together to develop creative, youth-led solutions, Tom, Pip and Kathryn decided to create one themselves. Thus, in February 2009, the concept of the enke: Forum, a space where youth were able to take their ideas and turn them into action, was born.
In July 2009, the first enke: Forum took place in Johannesburg. Participants were representative of the diversity and potential of South Africa; youth came from township, rural and urban communities, from the most under-resourced schools to the most exclusive in South Africa. What did they all have in common – a passion to make a difference in the world, a desire to be connected to youth with simiar passions and a thirst to be equipped with the skills that would help them change their communities.
Since the first Forum, enke: Make Your Mark as a concept and organization has grown. The enke: Forum is now a key component of a 9-month program for Grade 11 learners, the enke: Youth Award, and a 5-month program for university age students, the enke: Ignition Project. The programs increase the social mobility, social responsibility and individual leadership capacity of young South Africans by reversing the trends of disconnection, unequal access to opportunities and apathy. The programs give participants essential life experiences that will make them competitive in the work place and, better yet, to create their own employment.
In 2012 enke Make Your Mark goes through it’s first expansion implementing all programming and hosting two Forums in Johannesburg and in Cape Town. The goal is to make the program more accessible to a wider range of South African Youth.