Lila Silwana On Access To Education

What is your passion?

I am passionate about youth development and education. I believe that as young people we need to create our own opportunities, and education is the door to such.

What are you excited about lately?

I am excited about the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) programme that I was part of this year. I was part of the 3rd cohort programme in civic leadership. I believe that being part of this has transformed me and I am mostly excited about the information I am taking back to my community.

Share with us what you do, how much impact you have had and how long you have been doing it?

I work with Help-a-Student, which is a youth-based NGO in the Eastern Cape. The program targets grade 11 and 12 learners, together with university students to ensure that they have access to information. We also look closely at enhancing young people’s leadership and advocacy skills; we look at the human rights injustices in their communities and assist them in advocacy and mobilising for change.  We have touched more than 2000 young people in more than 20 Schools. Help-a-Student has been running since 2013.

Why do you believe in the work that you do?

I believe that the work that I do is transforming the lives of young people. Most of the time young people are not given the chance to be their own inspiration and create their own opportunities. Help-a-Student allows them the opportunity to craft their own future through education. This is why I believe in the work that I do, as I have seen how young people’s mind-sets change just by being in the program. I get inspired to work even harder when I see young people willing to work hard no matter what their background is.

How do you connect with Activators and those around you?

We have frequent meetings, and we use Social Media to connect. We also support each other’s Initiatives.

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

Through ACTIVATE! I have found a new family.  I now have people who understand and care about the work that I do. The sessions are a glimpse of hope to people like me and I think being in the program has expanded my networks in a manner that I could not have imagined. It has also improved the impact of the work that I am doing.

What do you think is the priority in setting the agenda for our country in the next 5 years?

We need to look closely at human rights and the implementation of human rights laws and policies. I think there is a foundation of all the aspects we can look into if young people are part of the implementation of human rights and the responsibility that comes with such. This would prove that we have young leaders who will drive change and all social ills will be resolved with time. We need to develop new leaders with such understanding.

How do you motivate yourself?

I look at the work I have been doing all this time and that gives me willpower to continue. I also look at my role model, Judy Silwana (my mother), who is also in the same field as I am. Seeing the work she has been doing drives me to doing even better.

Final message to young people?

The world is in your hands. Create the future you deserve and never let temporary failure stop you from creating the world you deserve.

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