By Isabela Malta and Emmanuela Oppong
Chebet Chikumbu, the Global Citizen Regional Director for Southern and East Africa, and Noxolo Gigaba, a 2019 BeyGOOD Fellow, were interviewed on the newly launched Your Digital Mentor Podcast, in an insightful discussion on youth empowerment. Your Digital Mentor Podcast is a series promoted by the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Wellcome Genome Campus Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences and SESH Global, that aims to provide access to conversations around mentoring and other aspects of research and career development; as Chebet mentioned in her interview, “If young people have access to empowering mentors, and appropriate resources, they can achieve great things, which will also improve society as a whole.”
In the Empowering Youth episode, Chebet and Noxolo explained why building capacity and skills is an effective way to address vulnerability among young people in Africa, and subsequently, poverty: “One of the direct causes of poverty is unemployment. With the BeyGOOD fellowship, we empower young people, the most vulnerable in South Africa—of which over 40% are unemployed—by providing them with the skill-sets they need to thrive in the job market”. In Noxolo’s case, she was placed in the marketing department of Global Citizen, where she gained skills that were key to securing a position as a market coordinator at the healthcare platform epione.net.
During the interview, the podcast host, Dr. Christine Boinett, and guests, also spoke about the movement of engaging citizens in using their voices to end poverty by 2030: “Our niche lies in the ability to take the voices of millennials and gen Z into the helms of political power. Young people, understanding their place in society, understand they can trigger change. You can find a way to call on world leaders to make changes. An engaged citizen has the capacity to change things if they take action. Take action!. Let’s be the change together!”, stated Chebet.
In the podcast Chebet and Noxolo gave listeners a substantial amount of insightful tips:
“Remember to speak up, participate, pay it forward. Once you have received it, it is then on you to pass the power to the next person.” This courage and selflessness creates a movement with a domino-effect that positively impacts and changes the lives of people. “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude”.
As Nox added: “You should be present in the moment, that way you’ll be able to identify what’s missing and what can be improved. Make sure you do your best, everything else will follow”. These words of advice from Chebet and Noxolo call us to join forces with young people and fight many of the challenges our world currently faces, particularly in global health and research. And these collaborations can come from different avenues, whether it is access to mentors, tools, sponsorship or just believing they can be, and often are, our change makers.