By Zilungile Athenjwa Zimela
It is not every day that a passionate young person at the height of their 20’s from the heart of Africa – Zimbabwe, residing in South Africa, gets a once in a lifetime opportunity of rubbing shoulders with the world’s finest young leaders. One would even go as far as saying; it is not any average young African that gets selected among thousands across the globe to set sails for the ‘Big Apple’ – New York to speak about their dreams on a world-class stage.
Dunmore Sana – a 2017 Activator; is a masters student majoring in Economics at the University of KwaZulu Natal, who is concerned about community development and the rehabilitation of those addicted to drugs and other harmful substances, who because of that gruesome fact – find themselves homeless. His compassion for those who have come to call the streets “home” propelled him [while embracing his moments of curiosity] to search the internet for opportunities that are directly connected to the advancement of the African socio-economic agenda. While he was surfing the net, looking for anything that could speak to his interests and passion areas, he stumbled across an opportunity, which in his own words was “the opportunity he had long been looking for.” While on the ‘opportunities desk’ site he found what he was looking for, a coveted youth acceleration programme “Miracle Corners of the world- MCM” that was on the hunt for the world’s finest young people with sharp clairvoyance who at heart championed the cause of making the lives of others better whilst using innovative and effective means.
“The issue of homelessness and drug abuse troubles me greatly and it is fast becoming South Africa’s biggest threat to growth and sustainability,” admitted Danny. What remains true in fact, is that substance abuse and homelessness are grave health hazards that sometimes go unchecked and as such, are not kept under control or given a sharp eye by the powers that be. For this reason, innovative and compassionate activism is required, not only to recognise the challenge but to proactively source out solutions that could go a long way in changing the current economic realities of those who have street pavements as their beds.
A ballpark figure of persons calling the streets home far exceeds hundreds of thousands and that is only an estimation, of those thousands many are without identification or a trace to their next of kin, their situation is as destitute as the latter sounds, lest the cycle of poverty continues. Danny, through an astringent selection process, wrote a motivation letter as to why he should be among the young people worthy of being selected to go to New York to not only speak at length about this but to also learn from first world countries, what they are doing as a means to an end. “ The steps that I think may be taken to address this problem are developing skills, social connections and employment opportunities for people at risk of or experiencing homelessness by providing them with reintegration services for them to partake in the flow of economic activities,” explained Sana.
To address this issue Sana is involved in the global casework, support information, referral and life skills development programme for people experiencing homelessness as part of an NGO called Palm of Deborah. The core objectives of the NGO are to offer housing and skills’ training on various aspects of organic farming – as agriculture in this regard – should be at the apex of our country’s socio-economic development strategy. The importance of science and technology in carrying out society’s daily ask in African economies cannot be denied and Danny is determined, through his own initiative ‘Shine-out’ to rapidly decrease the rate of homelessness and drug abuse among persons mainly residing in the streets of Durban, South Africa by reintergrating them into or under the “housed sector”. Through such an initiative he aims to influence decision makers and opinion leaders to invest in improved systems of support that ensure that people who run the risk of finding themselves in the streets remain housed. “My vision is to contribute significantly in transforming other people’s lives for the better and to offer them a beacon of hope for they live in a world of oblivion and have often had society’s backs turned on them,” reiterated Sana.
To make an impact on society, innovative ideas have to be designed and implemented as a catalyst for development, because innovation in itself has seen many nations rise to their feet and the whole of Africa is not immune to such a vast wave of change. With potent initiatives such as the Social Innovation Summit upon us, it is high time decision makers roll-up their sleeves and pay careful attention the innovative ideals as instigated by young people who may be facing challenges of being financially short-sleeved and lacking a pool of networks to share ideas with.
The South African corporates and governing structures could start by adopting homegrown technological innovations, which can be of great significance in the efforts to address fundamental socio-economic problems. To be blunt, continuous expansion of enabling environments and platforms to promote innovation that is aimed at addressing local challenges is as imperative as the plight to create more job opportunities for those who may not have entrepreneurial ambition and or the foresight. When mastered, the above has the potential to not only widen the trade market [where goods/services meet and commodities of value exchange hands i.e Money] but to also stabilise operations as they pertain to economic activities i.e the law of demand and supply in its simplest form.
Sana is of the view that young people need to be at the forefront of innovation and must be granted a grand stand to voice out their ideas in spaces where their voices will not only carry weight but will be heard with those that hold the financial will to realise them, in the theory of reality. Out of the 28 candidates that were chosen globally, he was the only one from South Africa and prides himself in representing the continent using the perspective of a young person who has seen [first hand] the shortcomings and recognises the opportunity to eradicate them from the roots up. In closing Sana added, “ To leave your mark in this generation; high goals, grit, tenacity and hard work are must have traits.”
Should you have an innovative idea and wish to assess funding opportunities, which include Venture Capital and Angel Investors, the platform, to get in contact with is the South African Investment Network found on www.investmentnetwork.co.za. They connect entrepreneurs and are based in South Africa with international affiliations.