5 Minutes With Puleng

Puleng Sirengqe, (26), I am a motivational speaker, Food Security and Nutrition facilitator at UNISA and founder of Bantu Quest Development Service an NPO that specialises in food security and nutrition.

What drove you to be an activator?

I saw it as a niche way for young people to learn tools on how to develop their own communities, all in the spirit of young people helping each other. I always wanted to assist my community by launching my own NGO and business so that I could assist communities and develop young people with their nutrition, and I saw Activate! as a perfect platform to help me reach my goal.

How long have you been doing it for?

I’ve been an Activator since 2015.

Tell us about your involvement and the experiences/ results you have had?

Since being an activator I’ve felt more motivated to help my community, so much so, that I launched my NPO, Bantu Quest Development Service in 2016. Based on an indigenous knowledge system under our forefathers, the philosophy of each one-teach-one, the organisation specialises in food security and nutrition by sharing knowledge with each other. We hold workshops in my area of Orange Farm under the topics:  introduction to food security, what are sustainable natural resources, food behaviour and nutrition, optimising food production and food resource management to mention a few.

I believe by educating ourselves and each other we can avoid hunger and malnutrition two of the greatest challenges facing our community.

How has ACTIVATE! supported you so far in driving this change?

Through Activate! my network has grown and the methodologies and trainings have assisted me greatly.

For example, I find the Wash Line Methodology an extremely smart way of planning a project. It has helped me when allocating tasks to people and also in determining the duration a task should take. The Switch programme assisted me in turning my ideas into reality and the workshops helped me be better prepared when pitching to funders.

What are your thoughts on Active Citizenship?

We all need to get involved, all of us need to challenge the status quo, we shouldn’t be ignorant and just accept what is happening in our communities.  We must raise our voices and motivate people to achieve their potential.

Do you think that the voices of the youth are being heard?

Currently it seems like the public is listening to our voices but not the government. For example, the government has policies in place like the National Youth Development policy, but it’s not implemented accordingly. Since I started my NPO, I’ve become aware of all the red tape that young people face when starting a business or project. For example I am having a problem applying for funding from the government because I need a bank account to do that, but you need money to open an account and that is a problem for me. I feel that there are so many hurdles that end up deterring youth from starting their own businesses and ngo’s.  

Do you think that the youth is doing enough?

Yes I do, there are so many youths doing great work. But there is a lack of support, funding and infrastructure. For example I have a great vision on how to educate people about food security and nutrition but the lack of accessible resources proves challenging.

How accountable do you think municipalities should be for lack of service delivery?

I believe that they are 100% accountable, but in order to move forward we all need to work together: municipalities, youth and elders.

Tell us about your contribution to the upcoming episode of Walala Wasala?

Driving awareness about the lack of roads and infrastructure in my community of Orange Farm. Highlighting the problems we have with potholes and how the lack of roads is affecting everyday life, for example ambulances won’t come to the area because the roads are too bad. Other services like the police also struggle getting access to certain parts of the communities because the roads either aren’t there or the potholes are too bad. Another problem caused by the lack of roads is that farmers and businesses struggle to access goods or supplies that is vital to their success.   

We discussed how the community is trying to address the problem with local government but that they are always told that there is no budget. Even though there is a budget for roads in the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) they are constantly told there is no money, and community members living standards remain low.

I also spoke about community members who are educating themselves about local government and the IDP and then educating others, I believe that together we are driving change.

How was the experience?

It was a good experience because it gave me an opportunity to raise awareness about the issues facing Orange Farm.

What topic did you cover?

Municipal roads.

What were the results?

The coverage sparked more interest so people are engaging with me, asking me about local government and a way forward. I always advise them to study the IDP and to work together with the municipality. Knowledge is power.

If there is anything you could have changed in the experience what would it be and why?

To have more one-on-one engagement with the ward counsellor.

Why would you encourage youth to be future Activators?

Experience! Joining the network and experiencing the training changes the way you look at life it encourages you to be more proactive about change.

How are YOU going to continue contributing towards the activation of change in your community:

I will continue being a social entrepreneur driving change to solve social problems. I will encourage anyone to join ACTIVATE! network. Empowering my community with information and continue to put information into practice by host dialogues and workshops.

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