Zimbabwean youth advocacy and development group I Am Zimbabwean (IAZ) is re-launching after a rocky first attempt by 22 year old Kundai Khuleya (pictured) to get it going in 2013.
The group is based in Borrowdale and is run by a team of eight young, positive, and engaged individuals who are working to help youth of a school leaving age to take advantage of the opportunities around them and to play a role in improving their society.
Khuleya identified the need for IAZ after finding herself entering her working years without fully knowing what she wanted to do, and feeling dismayed by the shortage of options and experiences available. “I found myself conflicted and frustrated by the differences in the youth-experience between third world country youths and those from first world countries, whom at 16 have already been exposed to real life job experience, even at law firms or hospitals, whereas the former are being taught by half-baked teachers at government schools.” It was this discrepancy that drove Khuleya to work in youth advocacy, with a focus on addressing the challenges of Zimbabwe’s next generation suffering under a harsh economic climate.
IAZ has a three-pronged approach to their activity. They are involved in charity work; they conduct online advocacy and information sharing; and they are promoting Zimbabwean products as part of the online shopping experience for local shoppers. Khuleya says that the latter will come much later however as they seek some financial viability further down the line. “We have chosen to take the next two years to fully establish the charity aspect, and the following two for the website work, and then after that online shopping experience aspect,” she explained.
In the meantime, IAZ runs a busy Facebook page where they aggregate and share content relevant to the youth of Zimbabwe. Their posts detail opportunities for youth and information about the importance of embracing our origins to develop a national identity.
Khuleya is pleased to be giving IAZ another bash after a very difficult first attempt. “Information on how to register the organisation was not readily available. In Zimbabwe this seems like the most difficult thing ever,” said Khuleya. Another challenge was convincing her peers to take part on a voluntary basis. “It was not easy finding people selfless enough to drive the organisation with as much determination and passion as myself,” said Khuleya, who was at first surprised that people with so much time on their hands could pass up an opportunity to make a difference.
However, as time passed, her network grew and she has since met others who support her cause with as much enthusiasm she has. Subsequently, I Am Zimbabwean could become a group to watch, since a rocky learning experience has given them the strength to go on.