Challenging and empowering our young people
UNICEF South Africa is committed to empowering young people to be proactive in initiating change, making a difference in their communities and investing in their futures.
It is exciting to see young people stepping up, taking ownership and initiating change in their own lives and the lives of those around them. And when young people are proactive in overcoming their circumstances and challenges, that should be acknowledged and applauded. Gen Z (those born from 1995 and 2009) and Generation Alpha (those born from 2010 - 2024) will shape our future and that is why UNICEF South Africa is committed to empowering these children and young people to creatively determine their road ahead.
Social Entrepreneurs - Girl Power
Sebabatso Ncephe is 19 years old and lives in Ivory Park in Midrand, Gauteng. Her ‘can-do’ attitude is inspirational, and her dream to study biomedical engineering can be realised through her involvement in Techno Girl - a UNICEF South Africa-supported initiative to introduce girl learners to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers through the provision of job-shadowing opportunities.
Sebabatso’s story takes on a ‘Girl Power’ activism and entrepreneurship angle as she saw a need and came up with a solution that involved empathy and upliftment - a powerful combination in making a difference.
Sebabatso’s experience at a local clinic to be tested for the coronavirus was the catalyst for her free social health App - ‘Afya Yangu’ (Swahili for ‘My Health’) - which is currently in the developmental phase. Seeing a pregnant woman waiting for hours in the sun for a prenatal visit and then being told to come back the next day, moved and motivated Sebabatso to do something. ‘What if she had no taxi fare for the next day? What if she could not afford to take another day off work? What if…’
Sebabatso’s social App will enable clinics and hospitals to communicate directly with patients regarding their healthcare and critical appointments without forcing them to wait for hours (or days) in lines.
Her App also aims address the stigmatization of those living with HIV and AIDS - helping patients to maintain privacy and dignity. "There has been too much stigmatization in hospitals for people with HIV. Now, when you're trying to keep your status confidential, you won't have to stand in line with everyone who knows you." -Sebabatso
Creative Thinkers - Community Initiative
Access to clean running water is still not a reality for many. This is of particular concern during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic when handwashing is literally life-saving.
To address this issues, over the past few months, thousands of youth took up UNICEF South Africa’s fun #TippyTap Challenge - to design a cheap, creative and easy-to-build DIY hand washing solution in their community.
World Vision has been UNICEF South Africa’s implementing partner in guiding young people in the construction of their Tippy Taps. “The Tippy Tap keeps hands clean and saves water by reducing waste, this is especially important in communities where water is limited.” -Thulang Lecheko, World Vision Team Leader for Port Elizabeth.
The challenge was simple:
Design and assemble a tippy tap hygienic hand washing station using string, wooden poles, a nail, a plastic bottle or water container and a bar of soap.
“It only takes a few minutes to do and it’s not expensive, even a kid can do it, ” - 20-year-old Tippy Tap entrant, Thobeka.
“Doing this I help other children to wash their hands, I’m their hero, I save lives” - Antonette, age 12, at Slovoville Primary School, Roodepoort.
There was a reward:
Through UNICEF South Africa’s partnership with the ZIto platform, those who took up the #TippyTap challenge would earn digital rewards for every Tippy Tap built via the ZIto App which could be redeemed for food or airtime vouchers. 3 000 young people have taken up the challenge and built Tippy Tap hand washing stations in their schools and communities. ZIto also verified each entrant’s involvement as a ‘work asset’ to add to their CV when applying for a job.
When young people are mobilised, prepared to get their hands dirty (or wet) and learn new skills, great things can happen in their communities.
UNICEF South Africa
UNICEF South Africa is constantly involved in programmes, initiatives and partnerships to protect and empower children in South Africa and bring about sustainable change in under-resourced regions in all 9 provinces. Having young people from these communities getting involved promises hope for a better South Africa and a better future for all.
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