“The word that comes to me when I think of being a Project Officer at NMCF is PURPOSE.”
1: Tell us about yourself
I was born and bred in Makhanda, Eastern Cape. I am a soft-spoken individual who can’t go a day without listening to music, I can’t imagine life without it. I hold a Bachelor of Honours degree In Psychology, from Rhodes University. I am passionate about children and youth related issues, I have been involved in community service since high school and I do not see myself working in environments that do not cater to children. My areas of interest include mental health, as I believe there is so much that is misunderstood around mental health conditions. My wish is for everyone, especially children and youth to have equal access to psychological services.
2: What does being a YLP Project Officer mean to you?
The word that comes to me when I think of being a Project Officer at NMCF is purpose. Every day I wake up and I have the privilege to play a role towards creating the change I want to see in our country. The Youth Leadership Programme seeks to amplify the voices of children and youth by giving them a platform to highlight and design solution on societal issues that affect them. Now to be at the forefront of such a mission truly is a huge responsibility but one I have an honour of fulfilling, as I truly believe as youth we need to play an active role when it comes to our development agenda.
3: What does your role entail?
The journey started with the Youth Leadership Secretariat internship, our role was to design, develop and implement the Youth Leadership Programme. The first two parts of the plan are complete and now our initiatives are undergoing the implementation stage. It is such an exciting time for us, as we have opened the call out for youth to join the Efeng Bacha initiative and we cannot wait to welcome the new cohort.
But on an everyday bases my role includes engaging stakeholders, internal and external. I am also responsible for planning, administration and coordination of the YLP initiatives.
All of this is possible through collaboration; I have the pleasure of working hand in hand with Zamajozi Sithole. We are always bouncing off ideas and navigating our way in ensuring the Programme runs smoothly. We have the support of the NMCF family and we play our part in changing the way society treats its children and youth.
4: Is there an event or story you would like to share that has impacted you during your time as a Project Officer?
It’s difficult to point out a specific event because most days I learn something new. Sometimes I have to leave my comfort zone, but I always come out a better person. I’m practically and intentionally sharpening my skills, so for me those are some of the rewarding aspects of being a Project Officer. However, what stands on top of the list is when we get to engage with children and fellow youth. Now you see, the fulfilment that comes from these interactions is unmatched. One of the highlights was when we took a trip to Mtubatuba, KZN along the Child Survival and Development team. To host a children’s dialogue and hear the challenges children face due to mining activities in that area. I vividly remember a 14 year old girl singing with her brothers and their song was about the challenges they face in teenage hood such as early pregnancies, peer pressure and lack of access to basic needs. The whole experience was an emphasis that children are aware of the barriers that exist in their surroundings and they just need to be heard. There is a cultural barrier that children don’t know much but they actually do and they find the most creative ways of expressing themselves. I think we can all learn from that.
5: What work have you done in your community to assist in improving the livelihood of those in your community?
I have tried my best to play many roles that can better the lives of the individuals around me. These range from mentorship, tutoring, fundraising drives and ensuring that younger girls do understand they can achieve anything you set your mind to. My life is a testimony of that, I still want to achieve more, but I have been fortunate enough and through hard work to call myself an SSP Alumni, Achieve scholarships and get into Golden Key in university and be part of the Youth Leadership Secretariat. Therefore, with every interaction I hold with my peers in my surroundings, I always try to make sure they feel seen and know there is hope, that our background does not define us.
6: What does Youth Day mean to you?
Youth day means taking a moment to pause and reflect, by recognizing the sacrifices and the lives that were lost to an injustice system of apartheid. It means to remember Hector Pieterson, Hastings Ndlovu and what they stood for, making it possible for us to access education, to have choice in some extent to learn in our language and about our identity. Therefore, the day plays a role of reminding us how far we have come but also gives us an opportunity to think about the journey ahead and the role we are playing in creating our own narrative as this current generation.
7: What are some of the issues affecting youth and what are your recommendations on combating them?
The sad reality is that Youth is facing quite a number of challenges, for example, yes we have access to education but there’s still too much structural inequality within the system, we all know the Fees Must Fall movement and the struggles of unemployment, the rate is more than 50%. These challenges are putting up a toll on youth, and these years are where an individual is prone to mental health conditions, therefore it can be challenging to navigate one’s future with these in mind. We do need the government to open up more opportunities for youth, to have more young people in leadership spaces. But individually, I think it is important to put our best foot forward and continue working towards our dreams because they are so valid. As much as there are so many barriers, we cannot lose hope.
8: Why do you think it is important for us to honour our youth?
It is important to honour youth to remind them of the important role they play in our country and also to recognize their resilience. To encourage youth to take on leadership, in minor or big spaces. To honour their brilliance, talents and role in shaping a better South Africa.
What is your message to your fellow youth?
My message to the my fellow youth is to challenge them to locate their voice and practice the spirit of serving. You find what you are most passionate about and then pursue it. Not every act of change needs to monumental or publicized. I believe the real heroes are those who help out in their communities, whether it’s helping ugogo (grandmother) down the street with their garden, helping children with reading or collecting your peers to play sport after school as other forms of coping away from substances. I think those acts, which can be viewed as minor, are very important. As they play a role in creating a better tomorrow.
9: What is your vision for our Nation’s youth?
To have more access to leadership spaces, to be given a chance to shape our future. Most of us grew up being told to get education. We have access to what our parents didn’t, we have indeed taken advantage of that opportunity and need be given a chance to utilize those skills and education. But until then, I think it is important for each individual to continue working on their self-development journey, so in turn they can empower others.
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