Kitsong Writer Tells a Tale

By: Kitsong Learner Kagiso

BEING A PART OF THE FILM FESTIVAL WAS REALLY FASCINATING AND AMAZING.  THE EXPERIENCES THAT I HAD WERE WORKING UNDER PRESSURE.  I REALISED THE FACT THAT I CAN WORK UNDER PRESSURE.  WRITING A SCRIPT WITH STAGE DIRECTION AND THE EMOTIONS FOR EACH SCENE IS NOT EASY, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT IS IN A SHORT SPACE OF TIME.  HOWEVER, IT ALL WORKED OUT VERY WELL.  I ALSO REALISED THE FACT THAT HARD-WORK REALLY PAYS OFF.  FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE I SAW MYSELF MULTITASKING IN BOTH MY SCHOOL WORK AND THE FILM FESTIVAL. MY AIM IN DOING THAT WAS TO PRODUCE A 100% HARD-WORK IN BOTH MY ACADEMICS AND THE FILM.

THE FILM FESTIVAL ALSO GAVE ME AN OPPORTUNITY TO WORK IN A GROUP, AND TO  ACTUALLY BE IN THE DRIVING POSITION. THAT PUSHED ME TO ALWAYS PITCH UP ON TIME, TO WORK ON MY PRIORITIES FIRST, TO BE A GREAT AND A HARD WORKING LEADER. I ALSO NOTICED THE FACT THAT EVERYBODY'S OPINION MATTERS.

ME BEING IN THE FILM MADE ME REALISE THAT FILMS ARE NOT JUST FOR ENTERTAINMENT.  FILMS ARE A WAY OF GIVING THE AUDIENCE A MESSAGE, AND THAT IS HOW WE WROTE THE FILM.  WE WANTED TO ENTERTAIN THE AUDIENCE, MAKE THEM LAUGH, GET THEM TO SYMPATHISE WITH THE ACTORS, AND GET THEM TO BE EMOTIONAL. WHILE, STILL ENJOYING THE FILM, AND ACTUALLY LEARNING SOMETHING FROM ALL OF THAT ENTERTAINMENT.

THEREFORE, I REALLY ENJOYED EVERY MINUTE OF WORKING IN THE FILM AND BEING PART OF THE FESTIVAL.  IF I'M GIVEN ANOTHER CHANCE AT DOING IT AGAIN, I WOULD DEFINITELY NOT THINK TWICE ABOUT AGREEING.

_MG_8923.JPG

Be sure to check out the films from IAWA's Youth Film Festival:

  • Nyariuana (IAWA): A look into the causes and effects of youth using nyaope.
  • I Have Something to Tell You (Kitsong): A young man struggles to come to terms with his identity. He goes on a rollercoaster of a journey leading to his self-discovery.
  • The Test (Bafokeng Youth Centre) A short film about HIV testing.
  • The Circle (Bafokeng Youth Centre, IAWA, and Poppyn): A Cross-continental conversation between youth in South Africa and the United States of America, dissecting their myths, stereotypes, and perceptions.

Why Cape Town?

By: IAWA Ambassador Betty

Hi my name is Betty from I Am, We Are and I am kind. We as IAWA Ambassadors are excited to go to Cape Town because for some of us it will be our first time going to Cape Town. As for me, it’s not a valid reason.  A good reason is it’s been three years as one family. Through hard or good we stand as one unit, and this year is our last year as we all know. We are all going to go different directions. We want to create memories that we will always remember and enjoy ourselves in Cape Town. It’s great to experience places you have never known, as we enjoy we will learn. I want to see Table Mountain and stand on top of it. I also want to go to the beach while we are in Cape Town

The Ambassadors are conducting fundraisers to travel to Cape Town October 2018.  They are  ~R100 000 or $8,000 from their goal.  You can support them by donating to IAWA.  Be sure to label your donation Ambassador's Fundraiser.

Poppyn Stops Through

By: Nuala Cabral

For the past six years, the award-winning youth-led news program POPPYN has created media that highlights the efforts, concerns, creativity and brilliance of youth in Philadelphia. This past April, POPPYN embarked on a cross-cultural media project with youth organizations in South Africa, a country with a rich historical legacy of youth organizing and leadership.

"This project has impacted me on a multitude of levels. There was a lot of first for me on this trip; first trip out of the country; first plane ride; first time teaching; and lastly my first time creating a connection with a culture so similar but different than my own.” --Nasir
31166833_1776194762431426_7868724907721359360_o.jpg

I Am, We Are and the Bafokeng Youth Centre were two of the organizations POPPYN partnered with to create experimental, narrative, and journalistic media that promotes youth power, social change, and an increased sense of global awareness and connectedness across the African diaspora.  

"The films I saw left an impact on me, but the responses we received from the audience were touching whether good or bad. When I realized during the panels that people in South Africa have no faith in Americans and assume that we all believe they live in a "bush" or poverty, I knew that I needed to come home and make a difference and spark a connection between African Americans and their roots-- the continent of Africa." --Addy

Following the collaboration, the films were privately screened at Rustenburg's movie theater and then publicly at IAWA's film showcase at the Bafokeng Convention Center. This summer the films will screen in Philadelphia and air on public broadcast television in the Philadelphia area. POPPYN was thrilled to collaborate with IAWA and hopes this experience and the media created will spark curiosity and a deepened understanding and appreciation for global connectedness and youth power across organizations, borders, and the African Diaspora.

31144044_1776194542431448_7898128472873107456_o.jpg
"I want to hold onto the moment when I was teaching IAWA members how to edit their film, while we just sat and talked. It felt like we were a family in that moment just trying to accomplish our goal. I also will forever hold onto the moment in the movie theater when IAWA sang their mantra together; it uplifted everyone." --Addy
IMG_7541.JPG
"Upon returning to the US, I will share the truth of South Africa’s history of youth activism and strong leaders. I hope that by sharing these things together with the truth about how similar students there are to us, I can help to create more of a connection between black Americans and South Africans because in reality we’re not that different." - Addy

Be sure to check out the films from IAWA's Youth Film Festival:

  • Nyariuana (IAWA): A look into the causes and effects of youth using nyaope.
  • I Have Something to Tell You (Kitsong): A young man struggles to come to terms with his identity. He goes on a rollercoaster of a journey leading to his self-discovery.
  • The Test (Bafokeng Youth Centre) A short film about HIV testing.
  • The Circle (Bafokeng Youth Centre, IAWA, and Poppyn): A Cross-continental conversation between youth in South Africa and the United States of America, dissecting their myths, stereotypes, and perceptions.

Nuala Cabral is an educator and filmmaker interested in media literacy, youth leadership and community activism. As a POPPYN Coordinator, she teaches media literacy and media production to youth and community organizations.  An alumna of Tufts University and Third World Newsreel's Production Workshop, Nuala graduated from Temple University with a Masters in Broadcasting, Telecommunications and Mass Media.  

MC's View of the Film Festival

By: IAWA Ambassador Tsholofelo

It was a great experience being at the film festival.  We viewed six short films created by POPPYN in perspective of the Philly youth news, Kitsong School, Bafokeng Youth Centre and I Am, We Are. We also viewed a documentary which gave people a better understanding of what I Am, We Are is and why it was started.

IMG_7451.JPG
_MG_9242.JPG
_MG_8975.JPG

It was fun and exciting because all the Ambassadors were very vivacious and we worked together as one family.  I was the MC of the festival that took place at Phokeng Conference Centre together with Ambassador Duvane.  The film festival has taught me a lot. Being able to speak in front of a lot of people, most of them it was the first time that I had seen them, was a big deal.  I was a bit nervous at first, then I remembered all the skills that Ms. Meisha Robinson taught me.

Seeing myself on the big screen has made me realize that everything is possible if you have passion and do things with an open heart. It was very exciting and it encouraged me to never lose hope. Even though there might be obstacles along the way.  Going to the theater was fun and quite nice because most of us never get the chance to go there.  We are really grateful for being able to go there and we really appreciate it.

_MG_9001.JPG

Presenting our film festival was a success.  There are a lot of people whom I thank for making our film festival a success.  Most of all I would like to thank Ms. Meisha Robinson for being with us every step of the way, guiding us, and showing us the right path to go through.  None of this would be possible without her.

_MG_9092.JPG
IMG_7079.JPG
_MG_9285.JPG

Be sure to check out the films from IAWA's Youth Film Festival:

  • Nyariuana (IAWA): A look into the causes and effects of youth using nyaope.
  • I Have Something to Tell You (Kitsong): A young man struggles to come to terms with his identity. He goes on a rollercoaster of a journey leading to his self-discovery.
  • The Test (Bafokeng Youth Centre) A short film about HIV testing.
  • The Circle (Bafokeng Youth Centre, IAWA, and Poppyn): A Cross-continental conversation between youth in South Africa and the United States of America, dissecting their myths, stereotypes, and perceptions.

Documentary Crew Review

By: Omphemetse Motene

As a journalism and media student, I had a great opportunity to work with Mr. James Williams. He has taught me so much and I am eternally grateful for everything he has taught me. Today, I know more about film-making and production.  Before I only had the theoretical part of it, but now I have experience and the practical part. I am grateful for the positive environment that he provided me.

Wow, coming to the final product of watching the documentary that we have worked so much for.  I realized how hard work can build character. You get to learn about discipline and focus. You learn to manage your time and resources. Trust me this is the reason why the documentary became a success.

I have learned and seen how hard work can bring opportunities in your life. That moment when hard work opens doors. Participating in the film festivals made me realize how much potential I have and all thanks to Mr. James. Teachers like him are not easy to find. Thank you for making me improve. I cannot thank you enough.  I am because we are.

IMG_0665.JPG

What a great pleasure to be given an opportunity to work with I Am We Are Youth, such energetic young people, full of potential and great new ideas. Our future leaders, these young ones are. Definitely, great leaders of tomorrow for they have been good servants. I admire them because as great leaders of tomorrow they were willing to give in as much as they could.

This program is very important to the RBN as it builds our young ones character. Today we have future leaders and I thank Meisha for bringing change into the lives of our young people.  They have learned about respect, discipline, self-knowledge and so forth. With what they have learned today they can stand for themselves because they know who they are.

I know this program has opened their eyes to a new world of responsibilities, they learned skills and even met so many amazing people. So from my side, I want to help young people to start believing in themselves. I want them to know that they can do it no matter what obstacles they may face in life.  Our young people look at their backgrounds and feel as if it’s impossible.  From the Youth Center Desk, we shall continue to bring change into the Royal Bafokeng Schools.

31164068_1776204275763808_1606865531653062656_o.jpg

Omphemetse Motene has a Journalism and Media diploma from Damelin. She has worked with Joyous Radio, Westside FM, and Mafisa FM. She is currently a facilitator at Matale Secondary School teaching life skills program through the Bafokeng Youth Centre.

An Ambassador Looks Back

By: IAWA Ambassador Thembi (Adventurous)

We had been waiting for so long to go to the camp.  The day arrived that we have been all waiting for the 2nd of April 2018. The camp was so great, amazing, and fun.  We got to talk about things that bother us.  We shared our sorrows and after sharing it felt great.  Some of us were not comfortable with sharing our problems, but we still shared and that was the most interesting and awesome thing that happened.  It made me see that we are in a safe environment.

IMG_4801.JPG
IMG_4787.JPG

The trust and love grew for each and every one of us.  We started to understand each other better during the last camp.  We also continued doing the market research for our fundraising.  We also chose the people that we will be checking on at least once a week.  The last camp was so phenomenal.  This is the camp that I enjoyed most since I came to the camp.

_MG_9011.JPG
IMG_7425.JPG

A Youth Facilitator Reflects

By: Katlego "Success" Mekgoe

I am Katlego M Mekgoe and I am a facilitator in the IAWA program. I started volunteering at the programme from year 2017 March and I still am.

The program has had a positive impact in my life. The ambassadors and the other facilitators too.  Within the program, I have learned how to be a brother to the ambassadors.  I have learned how to think without limits because of the fun and corporate activities we do.

Success and Ambassadors.JPG
Carwash

Many of the ambassadors come from disadvantaged or abusive backgrounds.  When they are all at the camps though, you would swear that they have a great second home with Meisha as the mother, us the facilitators as their big bros and sisters, and them as equal siblings.

The camps build love amongst us and teach us how to help others, in order to help ourselves, so that we could all be one.

I am emotionally stronger and it is all because of the ambassadors, their stories, and teachings they give and share every day at the camps.  I am mentally strong with the help of the program's founder who teaches us how to be self-sufficient and that nothing in the world is impossible.  I am spiritually strong as we always pray before and after camps, and in good and in bad times.

I have become a strong individual in all aspects because of this program.  And now my goal is to help others become even stronger.

I love IAWA with all my heart and God is going to bless us more, that I believe!

IMG_4719.JPG
IMG_4579.JPG

 

Katlego "Success" Mooketsi Mekgoe finished his matric at President Mangope Technical High school. He was well known for his humor. He participated in debates and comedy sessions and played basketball. In his matric year, his life changed though when his mother became ill and passed away.  He decided to take a break from his academic studies to take care of his younger sister.  In addition to caring for his sister, Katlego is passionate about Forex trading.  He hopes to return to school to study Marketing or Business Administration. 

Just Three Camps Left

IMG_1982.JPG

IAWA Ambassadors have now finished their 7th Bokgoni Empowerment Camp, we cannot believe they are only 3 camps away from being our first graduating cohort. The Ambassadors put skills previously learned into practice, picking up new gems along the way.

This camp differed from our usual camps, as the Ambassadors created most of the week's schedule. Each fundraising group – talent show, concert, and carwash- developed a list of actions items that needed to be accomplished before the end of camp. Each day the Ambassadors would go out with their assigned facilitator and work on their team assignments and report back to the group on what had been accomplished the next morning.  This was a great way for them to learn accountability and responsibility!

Through their grassroots outreach and fundraising efforts, the Ambassadors assisted Royal Bafokeng Sports/Jr. NBA with their biggest event of the year, the Finals Tournament. This partnership garnered R15,000 towards the Ambassadors trip to Cape Town next October!

Gratitude, thinking outside of the box and fundraising were the main topics addressed during the camp. The Ambassadors would start each day sharing statements of gratitude they’d written from their gratitude jar or reciting the IAWA Mantra. This simple act set the tone for the rest of the day.

Through lessons and energizers, the Ambassadors learned to be limitless and dream without boundaries.  IAWA Ambassadors learned about nonconformity and the importance of maintaining your beliefs despite the beliefs of others. They learned they must trust their own unique abilities even though others may view them as odd or unpopular. There is nothing wrong with approaching situations differently and creating new solutions.

IMG_1863.JPG

Ambassadors unleashed their creativity and wrote, produced, and began editing their own short film with the assistance of POPPYN Coordinator, Nuala Cabrala. POPPYN (Presenting on Perspective On Philly Youth News) is a Philadelphia based award winning youth produced TV news program. They focus on issues that impact youth while highlighting the positive contributions of youth to their communities.

IAWA Ambassadors decided to use their video to warn youth about the dangers of nyaope. Nyaope is a fatal drug used by teens in their community. Final edits will be made by POPPYN youth in Philadelphia. We are excited about this cross-cultural collaboration. The film will be shown in April 14th at our film showcase!


The week was activity packed from beginning to end. The Ambassadors learned how to make SMART plans, readjust to changing conditions, and find innovative ways to move forward toward their goal of going to Cape Town!

I Am Man Conference

Last October, we hosted our first I Am Man Conference. I Am Man was a one-day conference focused on empowering boys and young men, of the Royal Bafokeng Nation.  Conference participants explored what does it mean to be a man, within the context of Steve Biko’s words, “Black man, you are on your own.”

IMG_2088.JPG

Our male Ambassadors all attended and invited several of their friends. Men from the community also participated as elders and shared their experiences growing up from a boy into a man.

IAWA partnered with Brothers Empowered to Teach (BE2T), a New Orleans based organization dedicated to inspiring and incentivizing more men of color to choose education as their career, to host the conference. BE2T traveled with seven of their fellows, college-aged young adults whom all but one it was their first time outside of the US. IAWA youth facilitators and BET2 fellows co-facilitated the sessions.  Through this cross-cultural experience all of the men in attendance, young and old, saw they shared more similarities than differences growing up as black men whether in South Africa or America.

This open male only forum allowed the young men in attendance to truly open up and share some of the obstacles and challenges they were currently facing.  They were able to see they were not alone and there were others around them they could turn to. We are excited about what is to come, and we look forward to hosting a similar conference for young women soon!

IMG_2045.JPG
IMG_2077.JPG

Meet Ambassador Otshepeng

The artistic ability of our Ambassadors continues to inspire and amaze us.  Bright and observant perfectly describes IAWA Ambassador Otshepeng. She is a powerful, quiet soul who best expresses herself through words. She wanted to share the poem below with her extended IAWA family. She hopes her words will inspire you to pursue your own joy and happiness. 

 

You’re Not Alone In The Journey of Life

By: Otshepeng

IMG_1765.JPG

There's no single woman in the world that hasn't struggled or overcame difficulties. 

At some point in your life, we all face challenges and discouragement.

At this very moment, you may be facing one, whether related to money, health, children, partners, family, or careers.  It's all part of being alive.

Recognize that obstacles are part of your journey.  Don't let them stop you and never give up.  Instead, think of them as milestones once passed, you'll be closer to your goals.

Remember, with every challenge, you become stronger, wiser, and more prepared for the rest of your journey. 

Our Visible Figures

A big round of applause is in order for Mr. Dave Ryan, the Royal Royal Bafokeng Institute's Numeracy Lead and Maths Teacher Extraordinaire.  We would like to thank Mr. Dave for his virtual tutoring assistance.  Over the last year, Mr. Dave has been assisting our Ambassadors with maths tutoring. Ambassadors share homework problems and principles over GroupMe and Mr. Dave responds with step-by-step instructions and guidance. “Mr. Dave has been a great help to me! He makes homework not so bad.” stated IAWA Ambassador Milisi.

Mr. Dave we would like to recognize you and say thank you for your dedication and assistance to our IAWA Ambassadors. You are truly making an impact and the Ambassadors' marks prove it!

IMG_1749.JPG

Ubuntu in Action: Hurricane Maria Relief

Two months since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands many residents are still living amongst rubble without electricity or drinkable water.  IAWA, on behalf of our ambassadors, donated Luci inflatable solar lights, mosquito nets, and water purification tablets to Defend PR.  Defend PR is a collective of Puerto Ricans diasporans that is supporting the relief efforts of local Puerto Rican organizations including, Incitiativa Comunitaria, Pensar Africa, Ecokits Puerto Rico, Nuestra Escuela and Taller Salud.

At our October Bokgoni camp, we discussed the devastation the flurry of hurricanes caused in the US and the Caribbean.  Since social responsibility is one of IAWA's core tenets, I shared with the Ambassadors that this an opportunity for us to truly exhibit buthu/ubuntu (humanity).  They responded by unanimously voting to forgo their usual learning excursion and instead use the funds to support hurricane relief efforts.  As one ambassador expressed, "we understand how horrible it must feel to lose everything."  

I was almost in tears when they shared their decision with me.  Not only did the ambassadors electively make a personal sacrifice, they did it joyfully.  It truly is a testament that what we have been teaching over the last two years is having impact.

The donated materials were distributed at the end of November to an Afro Boricua community in Loiza, Puerto Rico. I am extremely proud of the ambassadors for reaching across the Atlantic to help their brothers and sisters in need.  I also thank you because without your financial support we wouldn't have been able to make this happen.


Peace and blessings,
Meisha

An Original Poem from An IAWA Ambassador

IAWA Ambassador Motlalepule is 16-years-old and in the 10th grader. She loves to read and write.  It is her dream to inspire the world with her words.  Watch her recite an original poem that she shared with her fellow ambassadors. (the words are below so you can follow along).

A Poem of Motivation and Encouragement
by IAWA Ambassador Motlalepule (Betty)

"Don’t let people compromise you.

Be who you are, be a motivator leader for yourself.

I am a leader I don’t let people change me. I don’t live low.

Take time to change, you don’t belong where you are now.

My question is how long will it take for you to change or make a decision?

Be who you are created to be.

Step out of your comfort zone.

Make a new life by being the person you are created to be.

Prove them wrong.

All I can say is get up, be a leader of yourself, don’t get to slow to stand for yourself."

IAWA's Going to Cape Town

We are headed to Cape Town October 2018!

At IAWA’s 5th Bokgoni Empowerment Camp, that took place April 3rd – 15th, Ambassadors conducted research to determine where in South Africa they would like to visit and how much it would cost. A budget was created once they completed their research. Their research included lodging, activities, food, and transportation. The Ambassadors will be responsible for raising one-fourth of the funds required to attend the trip or R 38 975 (approximately $3,000). We are asking their parents to contribute one-fourth as well and IAWA will cover the remaining expenses, estimated at R116 925 (approximately $8,000).

IAWA-Cape-Town_Budget
IAWA-Shark-tank.JPG

At our 6th camp that took place on July 10th – 22nd the Ambassadors learned more about marketing, finance, and operations to effectively plan for their Cape Town trip. The Ambassadors participated in an IAWA version of Shark Tank. They were split into three groups. Each group represented one of their agreed upon fundraising ideas; a talent show, a concert, and a car wash. The Ambassadors used recently acquired marketing, sales, and presentation skill to pitch their ideas to the group at the end of the week. 

 “IAWA’s focus is to take every cohort on a trip as a part of their capstone,“ stated Executive Director, Meisha Robinson. The trip is designed to celebrate their last year in the Bokgoni programme. "Our pilot cohort is currently in their third year and will finish next year at the end of grade 11," she stated. “Through the fundraising process, the ambassadors will learn and apply entrepreneurship principles. They will not only gain valuable experience; they will have earned their trip." Meisha hopes these experiences empower Ambassadors as they plan their futures post-matric.

Our April and July camps have been extended from one week to two weeks. The second week of camp will be dedicated to math tutoring. Math tutoring will now be offered at ever camp.   IAWA is partnering with the Royal Bafokeng Institute (RBI) to conduct the maths tutoring program. Dave Ryan, who is leading this initiative, has already jumped in with both feet.  Outside of the camps, he even virtually assists the Ambassadors with their math homework. Ambassadors send photos of a troublesome problems and Dave sends back step by step examples on how to solve it.

A Documentary on IAWA is in the Works

IMG_0036.JPG
IMG_0037.JPG

Twilight Ebb Productions also attended our July camp to document IAWA's work to date. Filmmakers James Williams and Paul Stafford, from the US and UK respectively, graciously agreed to create the documentary pro bono.

To provide a well-rounded perspective, the documentary will not only tell IAWA’s story, but also the plight of unemployed South African youth and the challenges they must overcome.  

"I truly didn't know what to expect traveling to South Africa except that I'd be helping tell IAWA and Meisha's story," James stated. "What I came away with was an enlightening experience as a visitor to the Bafokeng culture and the privilege of meeting 20 of the brightest teenagers in South Africa!" 

James and Paul, also took four aspiring filmmakers under their wing.  The four local youth-out-of-school spent a week volunteering on set learning the ins and outs of lighting, sound, and shooting. "We learned so much.  We really appreciate everything that Paul and James did for us. It really means a lot," shared 0mphemetse Motene.  

The final film will be no more than 20 minutes in length. We are looking forward to welcoming Twilight Ebb back to Phokeng, April 2018, to share the final film.  Everyone that participated in the film will be invited to the opening release.

Jelani Girls Collaboration

Apartheid-Musuem.JPG

Jelani Girls Inc. is an American nonprofit helping young woman re-imagine what it means to be GREAT. Through cultural enrichment programs and international youth service projects Jelani Girls (JG) empowers young women to achieve greatness.
 
JG brought 7 girls, from across the US, to IAWA's July camp.  JG and IAWA went on a game drive in Pilanesburg and motivated youth at a home for Orphans and Vulnerable Children for Mandela’s Birthday ensemble.  The JG girls partnered with an IAWA Ambassador to explore their community.  JG also sponsored some of IAWA's ambassadors to tour Soweto and the Apartheid Museum with their JG partners.  IAWA's Ambassadors were selected based on an essay they wrote on the impact they want to have on the world.

IMG_0029.JPG

Thank you to Jelani Girls for helping us to create this impactful experience and for sponsoring our girls to join you in Johannesburg.

 In July, IAWA also entered into a new partnership with World of Money! Thanks to World of Money (WOM), financial literacy education will now be included in our curriculum. WOM is a New York based non-profit organization whose mission is to empower youth with an immersive classroom and mobile education in personal finance capability.  Ambassadors can access WOM's app on IAWA's tablets or their own smartphones.

Seeking New Board Members

Do you want to get more involved with IAWA? Are you looking for opportunities to give back? If so, IAWA is looking for you! We are actively recruiting individuals to join our Board of Directors and Board of Advisors. As the end of our fiscal year approaches, we are looking to refresh and enhance our support team. If you are interested, please submit your letter of interest to iamweareyouth@gmail.com by October 15, 2017.

IAWA’s Board of Directors is a working board that actively guides IAWA forward in its mission to create a world where all youth are socially engaged, globally aware, and economically free. Directors meet monthly and assist with fundraising, marketing and communications, administration, monitoring and evaluation, and curriculum development.

Board of Advisors meet twice a year to provide strategic counsel. They also contribute to fundraising and serve as spokespeople for IAWA. Members of both boards will be committed to their respective positions for two years.

IAWA is looking for dedicated, creative, and passionate volunteers to support our fundraising, marketing and communications, curriculum development, monitoring and evaluation, and operations committees. No matter where your interests lie IAWA has a spot for you.

For more information or to apply contact: iamweareyouth@gmail.com

Travel Partners

RBN Logo

IAWA would like to thank our biggest supporter the Royal Bafokeng Nation (RBN). RBN is a traditionally governed community and the ethnic homeland of the Bafokeng people, located in the Northwest Province of South Africa. RBN is on a mission to create an enabling environment for the prosperity of current and future generations by developing the people, the economy, and the land. RBN has assisted IAWA by providing food and transport for the Ambassadors for camps and field trips. The Royal Bafokeng Health and Social Development Services staff have not only provided social services to the Ambassadors, but have assisted with recruiting Ambassadors, obtaining meeting space, recruiting volunteers, and transport. Additionally, the Royal Bafokeng Institute (RBI) staff provided guidance and assisted IAWA gain entrance into the schools. IAWA would like to give a special thanks to Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi for his support and dedication to the Bokgoni Empowerment Programme. We would also like to thank George Harris, former head of RBI, and Dr. Kebalepile Mokgethi, CEO, Royal Bafokeng Health and Social Development Services.

Ra Shad Frazier-Gaines

Ra Shad Frazier-Gaines will serve as the IAWA Chairman for the Board of Directors through June 2017. He is a Native of Aiken, South Carolina, he currently resides in Washington, DC. Ra Shad has a background in political strategy, campaign & event management, and logistics. His personal passions include social justice and defending the underdog. Ra Shad's philanthropic efforts started with volunteering with 4-H in elementary school, Interact in high school, and hosting small fundraisers for Helping Hands, Inc. - a home for children who need a change of scenery in his hometown. Ra Shad is also a founder and the Chairman of Black Progressives and the Black Caucus of the Young Democrats of America. 

Where We Work

Africa's First Satellite

Africa is planning on launching its first private satellite into outer space in May of 2017. Even more astounding, most of the satellite is being built by 14 South African teenage girls who participated in a high school science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) bootcamp! The students are being trained by satellite engineers from Cape Peninsula University of Technology. South Africa’s Meta Economic Development Organization (MEDO) purchased the satellite. The satellite payload designed by these young ladies will orbit the Earth and scan the surface of Africa to gather data to improve food security in the region.

Thermal images and data gathered from the satellite will predict where droughts and floods may occur in Africa in the future. In a CNN interview Sesam Mngqengqiswa, from Philippi High School stated, “in South Africa we have experienced some of the worst floods and droughts and it has really affected the farmers very badly.” Seseam and a few of her fellow teammates dream of exploring outer space for themselves. Brittany Bull from Pelican Park High School stated, “I want to show to fellow girls that we don’t need to sit around or limit ourselves. Any career is possible- even aerospace.” IAWA is proud to support these teenage ladies and all youth blazing their own trails! Read more here.

Meet Ambassador Tshwetso

My name is Tshwetso and I am passionate, loyal, and caring. I live in the Northwest province of South Africa, in a village called Chaneng. I like to play soccer and I am an IAWA Guest Ambassador for the Career Symposium. The IAWA youth program helped me with career information to make sure I choose the right career for me.  I like IAWA because it helped me through thick and thin during my first week. I wanted to be a lawyer but I was not sure until I met Meisha Robinson. Meisha guides us so we don’t lose focus on what we want in the future and also that we must leave a legacy behind for our children.  I learned that if you have passion, love, kindness, and happiness in what you want then no one can stop you to do what is right. With all my heart I would like to say thank you to I Am, We Are Youth campaign.

IAWA Guest Ambassador Tshwetso