I am Tapiwa Bengewa an 18-year-old, U6 student at Gokomere High School studying Business Studies, Economics and Computer Science, Junior Senator for Masvingo District, the Vice President Education for Gokomere Toastmasters, a consistent writer for the Sunday Mail Bridge, a Sports and Art Correspondent for Catholic Diocese of Masvingo Patavari, Youth Representative on the Simukaupenye Integrated Youth Academy Board of Directors, an Environmentalist, member of the Zimbabwe Youth Biodiversity Network, partner on the Ubuntu Rise Coalition and the Founder and Executive Director of Wekwedu Youth With Difference.
My journey starts
I began my journey of being the change I want to be in 2017, it was when our town house was made a Great Zimbabwe University boarding house to meet family needs, particularly my school fees and we had to move to live at the farm in Mushandike. Shifting from an urban lifestyle to becoming a country boy, it took me long to acclimatise to the lifestyle but it made me realise that as the world and country is progressing, we are leaving behind so many people. The marginalization gap grew day by day. I became passionate about changing communities and lives. Seeing that a number of young people did not know what was happening in the country, the changes taking place which would ultimately have an impact on their lives, the opportunities that were lost, poor lives young people led because of unemployment. Zimbabwe is regarded as one of the most literate countries yet one of the poorest; it is because those who are illiterate are totally illiterate. The gap needed to be filled That’s when I began Wekwedu YWD.
Empowering the youth and driving a brand new era
Wekwedu Youth With Difference believes that preparing the youth to become principal actors and decision makers in their own economic development is an important step for the eventual transition into adulthood and out of poverty. Young people are the future generation, as such they need to be prepared for responsibilities and become productive adults that are able to provide for their own families as well as contributing to civil society development. The overall goal of the project is therefore to empower the youth and drive a new era of Entrepreneurship Development, growth & productivity & confidence to participate in society.
As Wekwedu YWD we are empowering marginalised young men and women to become key economic drivers through skills development in the areas of Literacy & Numeracy, Vocational Skills, Entrepreneurship and Village Savings and Lending. We have our online motivation where young people DM us their thoughts. During the 2019 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (25 November-10 December), I came up with a brilliant and unique idea to support the theme- Orange the World: Generation Equality Stand against Rape. Throughout the 16 days, I published numerous posts on social media, with specially designed posters on people’s views on rape and violence against women. It was a clearly outlined idea which I executed extremely well, with hopes of raising awareness and educating the world on the problem’s women are facing. This is one of the successful initiatives I have done, showing how committed I am towards transforming worldly views and making positive societal impact.
Representing my District as the Juniour Senator
I am an active citizen in terms of civic engagement and policy making processes. I have represented young people from Masvingo at the Convention on the Rights of Children 30th Celebration at the Swedish Embassy. I lecture people on what is inclusivity in terms of policy making and how-to best challenge policies that are not friendly to the communities in which we are living in. The youth have the energy and the vision for the future so empowering them with the knowledge is very key. People in rural communities are not aware of the human rights they have which are enshrined in the constitution and in the African Charter on Human Rights; they were being oppressed by those in power. Also, I lecture on human rights and how people can identify violation of these rights and the best actions to be taken in trying to settle misunderstandings or attaining justice.
Caring for the community
I recently launched an online fundraiser, Covid 19 Response Pad Drive, which was a success. We managed to raise over RTGS 10 000 and bought 304 packs of sanitary pads. We have reached out to Masvingo Alpha Cottages Childrens Home, Mwenezi Childrens Home, Neshuro Baptist Children`s Home and various underprivileged girls in Masvingo Town. I`m looking forward to making menstruation a breeze for girls in Zim during the lockdown by donating at least 150 sanitary pads packs to all 7 districts in Masvingo Province.
I made it to SADC`s Top Young Influencers as a Trailblazer. Resilience and persistence are what made me who I am as an influencer. I fell many times, but having the vision in mind kept me going, I really needed to see results and change. I stick to my words and hold myself accountable for my failures.
Vision for the future
Young people should not be taken as `beneficiaries` of Africa`s development but as partners through active youth participation and civic engagement. Effective youth participation is about creating opportunities for young people to be involved in influencing, shaping, designing, contributing to policy making. I believe change is mandatory but it does not come over night. Alone Africa can change you but together we can change Africa. Let us come together to build relationships with each other, to collaborate across borders, to deepen our knowledge on key issues by sharing information, and to develop practical skills. Thanks to Emergination Africa which is giving an opportunity to broaden my knowledge base as a Telecommunications tycoon in Africa to be who will someday find space in the political field as a Diplomat or you never know.
I look up to Dr. Lance Mambondiani, Chiedza Makwara and Tatenda Chaibva as my role models, what I have learnt from the trio is widen your wings, explore everywhere avenue of life you can.