By Zisekho Geza
When we finish the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Programme, we see the world from a new perspective and conquering it seems like a flick of the button, this past week we spent time getting to know Ayabonga Kampi, a Help A Student beneficiary who became a mentor and later was introduced to ACTIVATE! through this programme.
“Being a youth initiative foundered by Activator Lisa Silwana, it focuses on social issues young people are facing, we formed clubs to tackle these issues through information sharing, opportunity sharing, and social support, it started off as just a group of friends who wanted to do better and be better, it introduced me to active citizenry,” said Ayabonga when asked when his love for activism was born. He is now one of the mentors handling the Safe Male Circumcision clubs where young men – heterosexual and homosexual alike come together and explore safer methods to male circumcision, Sexual Reproductive Health Rights and the importance of safe sex.
As the name states, Help a Student, Ayabonga attests to the programmes true nature and how through the sheer will and networking abilities of Lisa Silwana and her friends, it was the pillar of strength back in 2011 when he was in matric and the pressure was unbearable,” I remember passing and asking myself what now?, Help a Student helped keep me focused, paid funds for me to apply to universities and they did not stop there, after finally being admitted into the University of Fort Hare on NSFAS and understanding that I come from a single parented home the organisation bought food and made sure I had a stable support system until NSFAS allocated funds…they stayed true to their name”.
This is not the only glowing review from projects run by Activators, but it is one that not only grew the beneficiary but also grew the Activate Network. After becoming a mentor at Help A Student and experiencing Active Activism and understanding the power of young people knowing their choices and option Ayabonga became curious about Activate, “ I had heard Lisa and Happiness speak so highly of this organisation, that to me at the time seemed more fictional than true, and decided to do my own research upon reading and researching as much as I could I approached Lisa to find out what personal experience she had to share, she just gave me the application link and said it is Life changing and I have not looked back since the comradery and networks we formed are some I will be utilising as a practicing attorney in the near future and South Africa is in great hands”.
As this year begins and January hits strong, Help A Student has secured themselves stable partnerships with CTAOP or The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Programme, which play a big part in ensuring that the programmes they run stay purely youth based and run by the youth, they are involved with MTV Shugga dealing with youth mentorships and also The Department of Social Responsibility Grahamstown Dioses who they are currently running HIV/ Aids Programmes within Schools in and around King Williams Town and East London that seek to make sexual education accessible to young people in those regions and like with the case of Ayabonga they also do beneficiary follow-ups to ensure that young people who are part of their networks are surviving the transition from High School to University.
Staying true to our projects visions and missions is the hard part of being active citizens and activists but Help A Student seems to have kept to their word and are continuously providing hope for young people by involving young people in conversations that regard them and keeping the projects within the spaces young people feel comfortable and safe in.
“ Help a student helped me mold the son I am, the Brother I am and the Father I hope to be. Ubuntu and making sure young people are adequately engaged and supported is the basis of the projects success and our role model in such regard is Charlize Theron herself who sought to uplift her continent of birth when she was given the platform to do so and it is amazing and we are also seeking to use all the platforms provided to uplift our communities and peers.” Ayabonga’s closing statement left me with the same conviction and in awe of how much 1 Activator has achieved in her own community.
So as we begin 2019 let’s remember why we started our initiatives and who were they meant to uplift, lets now revive our vigour and shoulder through the hurdles January bring and keep the vision alive through the lives we touch on a daily basis, after all changing the future begins today, with YOU.