My OYW Journey 2013 to now:
I was introduced to the One Young World in 2013 when the Summit was held in my home town, Johannesburg in South Africa. In fact some of the activities of the event were held just a stone throw away from my home, in the Maropeng which is the Cradle of Mankind. Ever since I have heard about this life changing event for young people in 2013 I have tried unsuccessfully since until 2014 to either raise funds or secure some form of sponsorship to attend one of the Summits. It was only in 2015 after only a year of working at Barclays that I was chosen as a Barclays delegate to attend the 2015 One Young World (OYW)Summit which took place in Bangkok from 18 to 21 November 2015. It might sound as a cliché – but my life was never the same again. I felt validated as a young leader and empowered through the network which I was now part of; I was encouraged to solder on and continue on the journey I am on which is to impact young minds through education, mentoring and as an Activist climbing mountains to raise awareness about sexual violence.
The One Young World is a UK-based not-for-profit organisation which was founded in 2009 by David Jones and Kate Robertson that gathers together the brightest young people from around the world, empowering them to make lasting connections to create positive change.
The reason I was chosen for the OYW Summit:
I founded the Florence Masetla Foundation in 2013 which initially focused on the research and championing the use of technology in education to help eradicate poverty through access to quality education and information for decision making and active citizenship. The foundation has subsequently expanded to include; Youth educational programs, mentorship and sponsorship. Through the foundation, and support from Barclays, we pioneered an initiative called Climb Against Sexual Abuse. The purpose of this initiative is to focus on breaking the silence on sexual violence, celebrating the triumphs of survivors, and empowering others to heal from their own experiences of sexual abuse. As part of this drive, we arranged for a group of hikers composed, of sexual abuse survivors and their supporters, to climb the Drakensberg-Maluti Mountains in South Africa. It was widely covered by major media houses (eNCA, 702 Talk Radio, Power FM etc.) in South Africa and featured at the One Young World opening ceremony (Global change makers in action segment.).
Lessons learned at the OYW 2015 Summit
The One Young World Summit in Bangkok exceeded all my expectations. When I have applied to attend, I applied with the hope of meeting and forming lifelong partnership with likeminded young people from different parts of the world on various issues such as poverty, poor education, security etc. I however left with hope.
Hope that these young leaders, which I am part of, are looking after our planet and our people. They are trying to make the world a better place to live and many of which are doing amazing work with little or no support from organisations or their governments, and with some facing threats to their lives for the greater good.
I heard a lot of stories about courage, pain, business, climate change just to name but a few.
One particular speech that hit home for me was by Kamolnan Chearavanont, the co-founder of an NGO working on human rights called Voices, when she told us a moving story about a young woman named Sunshine. Sunshine is a stateless woman who was trafficked, raped and abused and her story highlighted the struggle of stateless people and how as young leaders present at the OYW Summit can help try to effect positive change in the world for stateless people.
Post the OYW 2015 Summit
Subsequent to returning from the One Young World Summit last year I was voted for the 2016 One Young World Coordinating Ambassador role for the Africa 1 region, which consists of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland One Young World Ambassadors.
Part of the OYW Coordinating Ambassador role involves (amongst other activities) organising at least 2 OYW Caucuses before September 2016. OYW Caucuses are regional meetings organised by Ambassadors for Ambassadors. Their purpose is to allow the community to re-connect, discuss plans for action, share knowledge and experience and keep the energetic spirit of One Young World alive and flourishing.
Post the Bangkok Summit I continued to work on the Florence Masetla Foundation and CLIMB against sexual abuse and here are some of the highlights:
- Youth Programmes: Hosted 2 groups of students at work to prepare them for the real world of work (about 30 students benefited from this initiative). Impacted over 15 girls through the Girls in ICT programme and about 12 college students benefited from the Coding Bootcamp in December 2016.
- Mentorship: We are planning for the next intake planned in first quarter of 2017.
- Educational Sponsorship – we have adopted a school in rural Kwa Zulu Natal in South Africa and we acquired 50 of the 301 repurpose solar school bags a fellow One Young World Ambassador’s company Rethaka.
- In preparation of the launch of the mobile e-school in 2017, I have been selected to attend the Red Bull Amaphiko for Social Entrepreneurs program (June 2016) and the Innovation Hub GAP program (April & May 2016); where I was taught about balancing the social impact and the business aspect of the Social Enterprises, business models, Intellectual Property, accessing markets and funding etc.
- I have trekked the harsh yet beautiful Karoo desert from Calvinia in the Northern Cape South Africa to Rhodona Western Cape South Africa covering about 244 km between 25 March 2015 and 2 April 2016 in order to raise awareness on sexual violence and potentially raise funds for CLIMB future events.
- Feature in the 2016 One Young World International Nelson Mandela Day blog post. (https://www.oneyoungworld.com/blog/nelson-mandela-international-day-how-we-should-embrace-virtues)
- Took part in the TEARS Foundation and Avon ‘I WAS’ Public Announcement with other 38 survivors of sexual violence to raise awareness on sexual violence. Filming took place on Freedom Day on 27 April 2016. Broadcasting took place during the 2016 festive season on all the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) channels.
- As a One Young World Coordinating Ambassador, I have successfully hosted a Caucus in June 2016 as part of the official opening events for the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the 1976 June 16 Soweto Uprising held at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg South Africa.
- Delegate at the African Union’s first summit in Ending Child Marriage in Nov 2015 held in Lusaka Zambia.
- 2nd Commonwealth Conference in Youth Work held in Pretoria South Africa in March 2016.
- Selected for the Poster presentation on CLIMB against sexual abuse at the 1st SA National Conference in Violence in Aug 2016 to be held in Johannesburg South Africa.
- Exhibited at the International Truth Be Told: Speaking against gender based violence conference which was held in Johannesburg in Sep 2016.
- Awards nominations 2016:
- the Nelson Mandela & Graca Machel Innovation Award (youcanbethechange.com/individual-nominations/977-florence-masetla); and
- the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health 120 under 40 Youth Leaders (120under40.org/nominee/florence-masetla);
For the work done as a One Young World Coordinating Ambassador for the Africa 1 Region I was then invited to attend the Young World Summit taking place in Canada later this year. An opportunity I embraced wholehearted. Came September 2016, I packed my bags and passport got into a plan. About 2 flights later I was in Canada.
Then the OYW 2016
After two weeks out of the country and a highly impactful summit in Ottawa Canada, I am left overwhelmed by the incredible work done by so many inspirational people worldwide. Despite having had experienced some racism during my trip to Canada i.e. where in one incident we were confronted about our HIV status after we told the person we were from South Africa, I treasure the great memories more and will consider going back to Canada in the future.
I started the Summit by running on the 27 September evening to raise awareness about and funds for refugees. On the morning of the 28 September 2016 I attended the impactful Social Business Forum hosted by Professor Muhammad Yunus where we expanded on the three zeros – zero poverty, unemployment and carbon emissions. In between the session I attended a private meet & greet session with the OYW founders Kate & David and some of the current and past OYW Coordinating Ambassadors where we discussed the Coordinating Role and other matters.
During the opening ceremony on 28 Sep 2016, we heard opening remarks by the Prime Minister of Canada and Minister of Youth Canada, Justin Trudeau amongst other remarkable world leaders like Mr. Kofi Annan, Sir Bob Geldof, Professor Muhammad Yunus & President Mary Robinson.
The Summit agenda was jam-packed with exciting and important topics on Peace & Security to global business which were discussed in the main plenary and breakout sessions. The stories were shocking, inspiring and challenging.
What was more special about this year’s Summit is that the first ever flag for Stateless people was inaugurated at the opening ceremony and I met two of my Mentors-from-afar; Advocate Thuli Madonsela inspired us with her talk on impactful leadership beyond the title and the international Economist & Author Dr Dambisa Moyo talked about Inequality and the global economy. I, with other South African delegates, had the opportunity to meet Advocate Thuli Madonsela at a private meet & greet session where we engaged her on matters concerning her office as a Public Protector in South Africa and what is next for her post her contract come to an end on 15 October 2016. This is what she had to say on Twitter about this interaction with the South African delegation:
We had another opportunity on 1 October 2016 to engage with Advocate Thuli Madonsela at an Q&A session during lunch and a photo with her and the African delegation taken after the session.
In closing, again this year, the One Young World Summit exceeded all my expectations – I have learned from and connected with some many young people passionate about leaving the world a better place than we found it. I believe that in order to solve these very serious, at times dark and complex, issues it is required for us to collaborate not only locally but globally. There is a need for a multidisciplinary approach to solve these issues. Of most importance is educating communities and investing in the future of children and society especially on tolerance, love and peace. In order to make change, young people, with the support of the policy makers/civil society and the private sector, need to drive these initiatives to solve the world’s pressing socio-economic and political ills.
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