Posted by Tapiwanashe Jeremy Nyerenyere
on 24 February 2020
We all have a responsibility to our communities. This responsibility is the same as the one we have for our families. This responsibility comes from a sense of belonging and taking ownership of our communities. However, it can be difficult at times to answer that call to serve because we struggle to identify what or who we are called to. Once we discover our 'why' and our 'how' there is an immense power in what the action of a single group of people can do in a community and when we change our communities, we change the world.
Like many of us, I have had the great privilege of receiving an education. Beginning at Hatfield Primary school in Zimbabwe and culminating at Monash University in Clayton, Australia.
I was born in Harare Zimbabwe, a country different but akin to Australia. In Zimbabwe, you are not raised solely by your immediate family; you are raised by your aunties, uncles, grandparents - whoever can help, helps. There is a communal approach to almost every aspect of life. There is this philosophy of 'you do not belong to yourself, you belong to us, and us to you', the term that most accurately describes this philosophy is 'Ubuntu/Unhu' which translates to 'I am because we are'. All of us are the products of our families, our communities and the people around us. When we invest in our communities, we become stronger not only as a community but as individuals.
Since my childhood, I have gone on to start an organisation with my friends called the African Youth Alliance. All our community projects and efforts are through our organisation
How, what and who?
I believe we are all called to the same mission in our lives, to help and love all people. I take inspiration from the Gospel of John. John: 21, Jesus gives Peter three instructions. To firstly feed his lambs, secondly to take care of his sheep and thirdly to feed his sheep. I believe these instructions are our mission in this world; we need to care about our communities enough that we impact them positively. What is unique to each person is how we go about completing this vocation.
The first hurdle we all face is the how-to question! "How do I go about changing my community". A place to start from is looking at our strengths and talents; those skills you have acquired over the years. No one in the world has your individual skillset and can impact your community the way that you can. Maybe you are a lawyer or a teacher; maybe you are a carpenter, maybe you are a year 10 student who hopes to change the world. Then you need to ask yourself how I can use these skills to impact my community. Do I need to start an afterschool tutoring program, or do I need to join one? Whatever you have, whatever you decide to do, do it to the very best of your abilities.
It is also important to identify the areas we are not naturally gifted in because this creates opportunities for collaboration and teamwork. My friends and I started the African Youth Alliance in part because of this reason. We have been gifted different skills, which allows us to impact our community in a dynamic way. We can do a lot more when we work together than when working alone.
The next step is to identify where and whom you are called to. For my friends and I, it is young people. We have a deep passion for empowering young people and helping to foster leadership in young people.
Like all meaningful endeavours in life, there will be failures, especially when we are dealing with people. Most of the time, we seek to do things that are comfortable, this can be for many reasons, but a common one is fear. We fear that if we fail, the world will end. However, failure is not the end of the road, it just tells us that this way will not work, and we must find another way. It moves us closer to where we want to go. Failure is a mechanism for action; the action we chose can be to give up or to keep going and figure it out. When we fail, it is important; we analyse the failure, correct things that can be corrected and plan how to move forward. When we do not completely evaluate why ideas/project did not work out, we have the tendency to repeat those same mistakes again.
My friends and I have failed so many times we have lost track; however, what we have done every time is analyse what led to the lack of success. Some of the issues we had were we did not communicate effectively, or we did not thoroughly examine what resources we needed. Most failures come down to a few simple mistakes that can be corrected.
We all have people who need us to succeed. For the African Youth Alliance, we have a lot of young people counting on us to be there for them, to support them in their own pursuits. Our collective love of our communities must be greater than any reason to quit.
If not you, then who.
We need to have the audacity of hope in what we do in our communities, just because things have always been a way that does not mean they have to remain that way forever. There will never be a more opportune time than right now. We cannot wait for someone else to come and change our communities it must be us, we must be the ones who shape the way our communities look like, it must be us who feeds his lambs, takes care of his sheep and feeds his sheep.
The way the African Youth Alliance has chosen to act is by creating a whole year curriculum aimed at empowering young African people in our community. The program aims to create leaders and foster transferable skills.
To follow the African Youth Alliance journey or to find out more information contact click HERE