“It Is Important to Live for Something That You Are Passionate About”

Yanga is from South Africa. In August 2014 she joined a non-profit organization called IkamvaYouth, as an intern, which was the beginning of a whole new world to her. She was then later employed in April 2015 as a branch assistant. Her GTF Mentor is Souad Talsi MBE.

Q: Tell us a few things about your country, and also your life's story! 

A: South Africa is a beautiful country. It is colourful in every aspect as it is home to diverse people, their diverse cultures, more than 11 languages and it is a country with such a rich history. It is home to a peacemaker of note, one of the greatest humanitarians that have ever lived, Nelson Mandela. It is a developing country and just like any other country, it faces challenges in politics, the economy and so forth.

It is home to one of the world’s 7 wonders of nature, the table mountain which is in Cape Town, it has a population of proximately 55 million, of which more than half is young people. I happen to come into the picture, in the year 1992 on December 13th. Born in a small dusty town of Cala in the Eastern Cape. I was raised by my maternal grandparents as my mother had to work, as a teacher, to provide for us. I spent all my childhood in this town till I started preschool, I then moved to stay with my mother, between the ages of 6-9 years, in a nearby town by the name Engcobo (about 100kms away from Cala). I was then blessed with a baby brother at age 7. I moved back to stay with my grandparents at age 10 to continue my schooling in Cala. My grandma passed away at age 13 and I had to leave my grandpa and a lady who was helping out at home. I moved to boarding school at age 15 which was in a nearby town, smaller than Cala, where I did my high schooling. One thing that opened up my imagination/thinking was television. I used to watch television quite a lot and that is how I taught myself how to speak English, that is how I learnt to have dreams as I would see people living in big houses, driving cars I have never seen and flying on jets that I never knew existed. I would be inspired each time I would see their lifestyles. That is how I got to learn about the world, that there were different countries and so on. I was particularly drawn to America such that I even dreamt of living there. I remember saying that I was going to go to Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study computer science but little did I know that the information I was equipped with would not enable me to reach such goals.

I matriculated in 2010, and a whole new world was opened up to me. I was admitted to Wits University for Bachelor of Science General, I majored in Mathematics and Applied Mathematics. I failed my major in the first year and went on to fail again in the second year. I later realized that I was not equipped with the knowledge that was needed for university, I was not equipped for the social pressures and really I was just moving through the motions as I was not fully convinced of the career path that I had chosen. I was excluded from Wits in 2013 and I decided that even if I would appeal and go back, nothing would change, besides, the financial situation at home would not allow me. In my despair, I decided to seek for a job so that I could raise registration fees for the following year but little did I know that this would not happen as easily as I thought it would. I was part of the thousands of unemployed youth seeking for a job. I heard about an NGO that focuses on uplifting disadvantaged learners through education and decided that it was the path for me, as I had grown an interest in what I call “World Changing” aka Social Entrepreneurship. I applied for an internship and my application was successful, this was the beginning of a whole new era in my life. I had found not only my purpose but my passion.

This is what I was born to do. Within 7 months, I was a permanent employee. I could not go back to school full time as I did not have the finances and so I applied with the University of South Africa which is a long distance learning institute. All that time has been a learning curve for me. Brought me to the realization of the importance of social change, the state the world is in and how we need to act ASAP. I have noted the importance of good leadership, the leadership of quality and actively pursuing world changing.

Each and every day, I am fueled to do more, however, to better take care of others, I need to be equipped with the skills and the knowledge which is why I sought to the GTF Mentorship programme for assistance. There is an urgency for social change and I am right at the heart of that urgency.

Q: What is your view of the world as it is today? And how do you define the concept of a better world?

A: The world today, is a world that is fast-paced in terms of growth in knowledge base, skill base, populations etc., of which only a few get to participate in the above-mentioned and also enjoy the benefits thereof. The majority of people, however, are left out of all the benefits of this developing world due to the information gap that does not allow them to adapt to this world. They are left poverty-stricken and excluded. Some government authorities fail to serve their nations as they are faced with greed and corruption, which then, backtracks the development of many nations. There are however people who champion positive change to uplift the communities that are at a disadvantage, but there is quite a few of them and a whole lot more people and resources are needed for these world changers. A better world for me would be a world where there are ethical leaders who have strong values to lead nations, leaders who are more concerned about the well-being of people and nations. Leaders who put major efforts in making sure that people do not suffer. Leaders who understand the importance of educated people who in turn will be the driving force of development. A world where people, despite all the challenges, work towards building a better, happier nation.

Q: What are some of the key challenges in your society?

A: Corrupt government authorities, unemployment, lack of skills, crime, poverty, high rates of teenage pregnancies and HIV&AIDS infections and failing education system.

Q: As a young individual what are a few of the hurdles that you had to overcome up until today?

A: One of the biggest challenges which I am in a process of overcoming would be being unable to complete my tertiary education. I do not think I was mentally and emotionally equipped to do so, moreover I did not have the funds to help me complete it. Also, coming from a community that is not presented with information and opportunities that I am now aware of has delayed the process of finding and choosing the correct career path for me.

Q: Why is the role of a mentor important for you?

A: It is important because if you ever want to achieve great things in your life, you should get guidance from someone who has been through the process. That way, you have a goldmine of someone who not only has the knowledge that you require but also has the insight and the experience. A mentor allows you to shift your perspective in a way that will help you think at a broader and higher level. A mentor also helps you accumulate speed, you achieve much faster if you apply the principles and advice shared by your mentor. Also, your mentor becomes your inspiration, that way you are motivated to be a go-getter!

Q: Do you have a lesson that life has taught you and you would like to share?

A: So far life has taught me that, it is important to live for something that you are passionate about. Somehow that passion allows you to face on each day, each challenge with a winner’s mentality. Passion is a relentless force that drives a hunger to learn, innovation and it opens up a whole new world of possibilities. You feel like you have a purpose and allows you to stop at nothing in pursuit of your purpose. Along the way, passion will teach you to be patient, it will teach you to welcome and adapt some of the most drastic change and it will completely change your outlook on life.

Q: Name a project, a foundation or a person in your country that you think is doing great work in helping improve other people's lives!

A: In my country, it would definitely be the organization I currently work for, IkamvaYouth. But, there is one lady that opened up the world of philanthropy to me who is not from South Africa, Tsitsi Masiyiwa from Zimbabwe. She is the co-founder together with her husband, Strive Masiyiwa, of the HigherLife Foundation in Zimbabwe. Higherlife Foundation was founded by Mr Strive and Mrs Tsitsi Masiyiwa having identified the drastic developmental and social needs of African communities in the countries where their telecommunications network Econet Wireless International is in operation. Through the establishment of 4 Trusts, each dedicated to a specific area of need they have spearheaded transformation in the lives of thousands of individuals and communities across Southern Africa. Presently operational in Burundi, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa the Higher Life Foundation Trusts aim to empower individuals steeped in poverty and despair with opportunities for them to succeed in all areas of their lives.

Q: Share with us a phrase, a poem or a story that you love or you find interesting!

A: It would definitely be a quote by Steve Jobs which says: “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the round pegs in the square holes… The ones who see things diffrently—they are not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”