Consortium alumna Meisha Robinson (NYU ’07) is the founder and executive director of “I Am, We Are,” a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to creating a world where all youth are socially engaged, globally aware, and economically free. She provided this guest post for The Consortium about her work.
I Am, We Are (IAWA) was founded on the South African philosophy of Ubuntu, or “I am because we are.” This nonprofit organization was born from my desire to create a path for youth in South Africa, where I worked as a Peace Corps volunteer and encountered many youth who yearned to achieve their dreams, but had no vehicle to get there.
Our organization was featured on Monday in a newscast from Washington, D.C.’s WUSA. See the video of my appearance here or below.
This week, with a cocktail reception and fundraiser on Thursday, we kick off plans to expand IAWA’s Bokgoni Empowerment Programme (Bokgoni) across South Africa’s Royal Bafokeng Nation. Bokgoni is a youth empowerment program that annually conducts three camps in Royal Bafokeng Nation, South Africa. The multiyear program empowers students from eighth through 11th grade to become self-sufficient adults.
IAWA strives to decrease South Africa’s 50 percent high school dropout rate and the 48 percent youth unemployment rate by giving youth an understanding of self and the global community. IAWA equips ambassadors with the knowledge and skills to pursue their dreams developing a generation of youth who are socially engaged, globally aware, and economically free.
IAWA started with 21 youth, but the all-volunteer team is confident that soon they will impact 2,100 youth. The money raised in the $100,000 fundraising campaign will expand the Bokgoni pilot from one high school to three and integrate 63 more youth into the program.
“There is a direct correlation between endeavors that support youth development and the growth of the communities in which they live and serve,” said Ernest Wyatt, managing director and partner of Batswadi Healthcare Group. “IAWA provides the tools youth need for a stronger and brighter future.”
The Royal Bafokeng Nation is a traditionally governed community of 150,000 people living in 29 villages. It owns 745 square miles of land located in the North West province of South Africa and sits on the world’s largest platinum reserves. The Royal Bafokeng Nation is the homeland of the Bafokeng people, a traditional Setswana-speaking community.
“The idea of community or social entrepreneurship primarily focused on youth and women could bring about fundamental change in different societies of the world especially those in need,” indicated Dr. Kebalepile Mokgethi, CEO of the Royal Bafokeng Health and Social Development Services. Dr. Mokgethi believes IAWA will continue to grow as a prototype that can be replicated anywhere in the world.
The fundraising reception will be at 6 p.m. on Thursday. More details are available on the event sign-up page. Mokgethi and Wyatt will address reception attendees. Anyone can support IAWA with a donation on our website.