Youth employment: Uncertainties, gaps and A! potential

Youth Social Justice Warriors:

The Challenge

I mostly find myself in social justice spaces, NGOs, progressive campaigns and conferences. My profile is built around that and it’s what drives me. Considering all that is happening and the power that I have to drive change, I find being on different platforms exhausting. I have a formal educational background in Communications and Public Relations and it’s working for me. On the other hand, I have acquired a skill in advocacy for reproductive justice and development. It is an impacting work space that highlights my capabilities. However, I have fears concerning stability in the long run.  I worry about buying property and working towards long-term investment. Working in a space that expects me not to seek financial reward for my efforts, how likely am I to still have a job in the next few years? How do I invest more in myself?  What kind of seeds do I plant and who do I trust as a committed strategic partner? Through that uncertainty, we still need ensure that we impact lives, influence policy and still be able to eat. We live under the pressure of having to work hard and not seek reward for the fear of being accused of not being passionate enough. This is the nonsense that denies us the right to acquire wealth. We are limited and unfortunately not privileged to inherit wealth. Instead, we have to seek to restore our wealth as folk of colour. But what happens when we don’t even have a door to knock on?   

Finding long-term partners within ACTIVATE! 

When I started at ACTIVATE!  in 2015, the first people I met were Lance Louskitier and Ramontsheng Rapolaki . We became good friends and colleagues.  Ramontsheng and I once attended an event organised by fellow Activator, Soulitude to commemorate the late Steve Biko.  At that event, we witnessed a lot of black talent in music and spoken word. We realised that these talented young people are in the performance arts industry but are unknown. That triggered our anger towards biased media and together with Lance, we decided to establish an online media platform, ‘Afro-Stories’ to showcase marginalised talent.  Afro Stories is still in the development stages and will launch by the end of 2017.  Lance and I work in sexual and reproductive justice, but in different intersecting spaces. He is in academia, and I am in Advocacy and communications. We work well together and have facilitated workshops in this regard. We both form part of the Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition, but recently earned our own stripes as the youth champions for HIV prevention programmes working with marginalised folk.  We are currently implementing a grant that was awarded to us by the International AIDS Society after applying and motivating the importance of our work in our communities. The grant covers our professional costs and we’ve managed to secure stipends for our volunteers. Furthermore, we are looking at how we can expand this project and make it sustainable and profitable.   

The answer lies in the Network 

So, what exactly is my point? Well, I’m just sharing how three members of the Network worked together in coming up with ideas that do not distract our work but contributes towards putting food on our tables.   We all lead very busy lives but we found time to secure a seed grant. Think about the possibilities that can come from this Network if members sat together, found ways to bridge skills and came up with profitable ideas. This Network could have its own economy.