Twenty-four-year old Zanele Hlatshwayo’s aim is to reduce the rising number of attempted suicides in Mzansi.
Soweto born, Zanele Hlatshwayo, 33, founded a non-profit initiative, Rise18, which is a movement set around creating a dialogue around mental illness and suicide prevention.
At only 24 years old, Zanele’s father, Phillip Hlatshwayo, at 47, took his own life and to cope with the weight of her grief she found comfort in running.
Speaking to us about her experience Zanele says: “At first, I was running away from my pain. I couldn’t understand why my father had to leave me. I was angry, broken and ashamed that the strongest man I’ve ever known took his own life. But eventually, running became a coping mechanism for me. Now it has become my sacred space where I get to heal, clear my head, but most of all where I get to conquer.”
Zanele then decided that she wanted to redefine her father’s suicide and draw attention to these troubling statistics by setting up a BackaBuddy crowdfunding campaign to break the silence around the ‘taboo’ topic and pledged to complete 18 marathons.
“I decided to rise and raise awareness about depression and suicide: silent killers that are scourging our beautiful country. I want to demystify mental illness and create a dialogue so that people no longer have to suffer in silence. If my BackaBuddy campaign saves one life, my purpose on this earth would have been fulfilled.” Zanele said.
The campaign went live on the 17th of January 2018 hasthus far generated R66 633.78 towards the target of R180 000 with contributions from over 117 donors from different parts of the world and she has thus far completed 15 races totalling 389km.
To support Zanele, donate to her campaign here.