By: Zamayirha Peter, Activate Change Drivers Communication Manager
ACTIVATE! Change Drivers recently hosted its youth hub leaders in a three-day training workshop in Johannesburg, to strengthen their capacity to create meaningful change in communities across South Africa. The gathering targeted Activators serving as coordinators at the Youth Hubs in all nine provinces.
The workshop sought to empower the youth leaders with critical knowledge and key competencies to effectively and efficiently run the youth hubs in collaboration, and with the support of various public and private entities. Learning engagement took both a theoretical and practical approach, with sessions facilitated by experts in community development, project management, public innovation and youth development.
Activate has committed itself to strengthen the capacity of youth leaders to influence change in society. An important part of this commitment has been about creating enabling platforms for youth leaders to connect, share ideas and be inspired to actively contribute to the common good. The ACTIVATE! Youth Hubs, positioned strategically across South Africa’s nine provinces, enhance opportunities for connections, resource and knowledge sharing among Activators beyond the residential training space.
Addressing the coordinators at the workshop on the funding environment for youth development, was Lunga Schoeman, Innovation Director at DGMT, which is committed to nurturing a national network of young leaders committed to public innovation and social change.
“Our funding model is geared at not only opportunities that are aligned with our strategy centred around human development – but is also open, agile and flexible enough to be able to allow for investment in programmes that explore new and meaningful approaches to community development – even better if they are driven by youth.
“From my interaction [on the day], I can safely say that the youth coordinators are deeply connected with the needs of their communities – and genuinely want to make a difference. I am proud that Activate can offer this platform, and support these co-ordinators and walk the journey with them as they pursue some of the big ideas that they hold,” Schoeman says.
Community Development practitioner, Sandile Tsiye, addressed the youth hub coordinators on how to draft a Memorandum of Understanding: “It was a great time at the gathering, it felt like I was paying it forward, given how I too am a product of the youth network and that’s what Activate does – it empowers you to empower others.
“My role was to be a facilitator to assist the coordinators on grasping a Memorandum of Understanding with stakeholders they engage with, in light of the importance of the work they do, as it’s important that it is formalised, given the seriousness it reflects in society.
“There’s great potential for the youth hubs to have a national impact. The young people in the room are hungry, they have revived me as they are so interested in the learning experience. A teachable person has the best chance of leading our society, and these coordinators have displayed that.”
An intimate session on leadership was facilitated by Activate CEO, Siphelele Chirwa, who reminded the Activators how at times their work can feel thankless; and that sometimes they may be perceived as being superhuman by the communities which stand to benefit from their work, with no regard to the trials the coordinators face in realising their mandates.
Youth Hub leaders tell their inspirational stories
Comments from the youth leaders who attended this important gathering were inspirational:
- Mboneleli, from Site C in Khayelitsha, Western Cape, runs the iKhayelitsha Youth Hub from his home. Since 2015, he and his wife have used their home as a centre to create opportunities for young people through education and training, partnering with Activate to develop the centre. “There are challenges, but we are still here and the constant backing of Activate has validated this work, especially in the face of discouragement. Young people aren’t taken seriously in this country and here’s an organisation that not only sees and hears us, but they have partnered with us. I am leaving the gathering super energised as I noticed that the challenges we face at our centre – other coordinators also have faced. We leave with dynamic ideas to mitigate the challenges.”
- Buhlali Buzani Mdantsane based in East London, Eastern Cape, was referred to Activate in 2018 by a friend. “At the time I had just started my NPO and was getting into civic society work. It has been a transformational journey. I learnt about my intrinsic value and the assets I bring to the room; I got more confident and bolder in my leadership and entrepreneurial spirit. They taught us a business model canvas based on a global standard, and this helped me channel these tools into real life. “My hub is called Kasi Conversation, we go to local tshisa nyama, where we spend time there. I see myself running a cooperative bank one day, but we are building toward that! As Activators, while we are phenomenal in our respective spaces, we are also human beings and it’s good to come into a space of like-minded people determined to change the world. What motivates me is knowing that there is a boy in my street who looks at me and aspires to follow my path. We did not all have role models, but I now stand at a place to be a role model to young people.”
- Amina Mazibuko from the Free State, comes from a rural area where there are not many opportunities for personal development. “Being an Activator has given me information which I take back home. My youth hub is Moonlight Youth Hub in Ezenzeleni, and we offer afternoon programmes; kitchen soup; sanitary towels; and a boys and men/girls and women mentorship programme. I am passionate about rural development, and given how I grew up, I don’t want another girl or boy child to go through that.”
- Shoki Tshweni hails from Orange Farm and Hillbrow, Gauteng, and is a 2019 Activator who was inspired to launch a youth centre to deal with children. “We offer an academic support programme where we go to schools and offer tutoring; we have spelling bee competitions; Math Olympiad; a library; and we are trying to break the barriers to learning where we use holistic approaches to solve ‘limitations of learning’. “Youth development drives me, and it is an honour to do this work. Many children struggle with mental health, and we provide a safe space for inclusive learning that uses dynamic interventions. Activate has stirred my passion into meaningful change; it’s given me hope, support and a network to lean into; it’s been there for me through the highs and the lows and has stuck with me.”
- Sibulele Blossom Madikizela Mthatha from Eastern Cape, left their job to serve their community. “I quit my job to do financial education in my community – it was a passion that was inspired by my own shortfalls. “I have been working since the age of 14 and have accumulated enough money that would have ordinarily given me the finance to buy things like a house or a car or to invest it. Yet at 25 years I was broke. I had money, but I misused my money. There are a lot of black youth suffering from financial illiteracy and when we started the organisation, I had nothing. We started a reading club, and it went from seven to 50 kids, and I had no resources. So, I thought, let’s make amagwyina and sell that; and with that money I supported the hub; and with help from the community, which gave us tables, books, and a space for the youth hub. It was through the community effort that I could even offer these kids this. This road can be very lonely when you are the light that must light others; and being in this space, I see that I am not alone, and I can lean into this network of like minded young people. I almost threw in the towel but being here has reminded me that I am not alone.”
About ACTIVATE! Change Drivers
ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is a multisectoral youth development programme with national network that in the past 10 years, has delivered a leadership development programme to over 4000 young people from across the country, with tools to enable platforms for youth leaders to connect, share ideas and be empowered to become active change drivers in their communities.
Its work is based on the belief that if young people are provided with a provocative platform to meet, connect AND be inspired to actively contribute to the common good, strengthen develop their abilities and skills set THEN they can be innovative and active citizens who can drive positive social, economic and political change for South Africa and the global good.