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.”

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!

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!

A Documentary on IAWA is in the Works


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

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.

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.


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. 

Travel Partners

This past year IAWA had the opportunity to partner with some amazing organizations! During the month of July IAWA Ambassadors met with Global Kids youth from Washington, DC at Constitution Hill in South Africa. Our Ambassadors learned about the history of Apartheid and the lasting effects South Africans are still fighting to end. They also had a chance to interact with American youth, gaining a new perspective of the global community.

ascendance fashion show

 The Victoria House Foundation (VHF) kindly donated 5 tablets to our Ambassadors. Their donation has helped to expand the perspectives of our Ambassadors by allowing them to partake in virtual mentoring sessions. IAWA looks forward to working with VHF again in the future as we work to procure computers for our Ambassadors.  IAWA thanked VHF and celebrated their contributions at their annual Connect to Empower Gala on September 12th in Annapolis, Maryland.

The Ascendance Fashion Show on September 15th in New York, New York was a beautiful mix of fashion, culture, and advocacy. The fashion show was used as a platform to help drive awareness for IAWA. The designers that hosted The Ascendance Fashion Show are committed to helping IAWA raise $5,000 by the end of October.

We would like to take this time to thank our travel partners and we look forward to continuing the work we have started with them. If you would like to partner with IAWA or know of someone who would please contact us.