Joy Warries, the co-founder of WOWMovement, is a fourth-generation community change agent. Her heritage boasts of a matriarchal ancestry of change agents as her great-grandmother, Christina Leukes from Calvinia, was a self-taught social entrepreneur and social worker, her grandmother, Nurse Farao was a midwife and social worker based in Wellington, and her mother, Hermione Julies started the programme Andreas in Stellenbosch. The remnants of this lineage of women fearlessly cultivating their own resources to assist vulnerable women and girl-child in their respective communities flows in Joy’s heart and WOWMovement’s foundation.
The organisation’s mission started in 2002 when Joy and her mother, Hermione, and daughters realized that they have the same vision to equip all women with resilient strategies to overcome their circumstances. With this vision, Joy and Hermione presented workshops based on identity to strengthen women with self-image challenges. Since the inception of these workshops, an assessment was made that a proactive mentoring succession plan should be developed to reach a broader spectrum of women, which will capacitate women holistically, thus the birth of the idea of WOWMovement. However, the birthing of detailed WOWMovement programmes came after the added benefit of education, as both Joy and Hermione decided to study further to gain necessary tools to equip women and girl-child with tools to construe their agency in society.
At the age of 45 years, Joy began her undergrad at Cornerstone Christian College in Cape Town and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Community Development and Theology in 2007. In addition, Hermione attended workshops focusing on counselling, life coaching and facilitation of soft skills. After years of volunteering in the community and gaining immense knowledge through education, to assist girl-child and women, Joy and Hermione registered WOWMovement as a non–profit organization in 2010.
Joy understood for WOWMovement to be successful and for there to be a true transformation in communities one must understand and develop networks with city officials. In this approach, not only are the women and girl-child equipped with the necessary tools of resilience but also the ability to access resources obtained through government leaders and projects for social capital and cohesion. This informs another aspect of the success of WOWMovement, where strong authentic networks are created with Ward Councillors, such as Glen Kleinsmith (2007 -2009). Glen Kleinsmith’s role in WOWMovement was to be an asset in laying a foundation in mentoring Joy with the foresight to grasp City opportunities for the benefit of the community at large. This bond was abundantly materialised through the accession of a building for the women and girl-child to find a safe space in the community to build resilience emotionally, socially and economically. From one room facility, Mercia Kleinsmith (2009), the successor to Glen Kleinsmith, Sub Council 6 and Sub Council Facilities Management eventually gave WOWMovement the privilege of moving into a vacant building and established the Women and Youth Centre in July 2010.
Through the years our mission organically grew to walk with vulnerable urban and peri-urban girl-child and women, by providing safe spaces for programmes to build emotional, social and economic resilience with an understanding as an organisation of the impact of poverty, social bias, violence and trauma on an individual and community.