12 young South Africans on what it means to lead change in local communities

It is safe to say 2016 was a year of upsets and landmarks. From media to politics, climate change, immigration, and even the Nobel Prize, predictions failed and rhetoric crystallized, delivering what may set the tone for the next generation.

But for the  Youth Leaders Today for Tomorrow (YLTT) team in King Williams Town, South Africa, 2016 was nothing short of awesome!

As part of Douglas Imaralu’s  ongoing Q&A series with Restless Development volunteers across our country programs in Africa and Asia,  we spoke to 13 amazing volunteers leading change in local communities in South Africa.  With the close of their 9-month volunteer journey with Restless Development South Africa, they explain what volunteering means to them and the impact it has had on their personal lives and the groups and communities they served.  



Qhama “Que” Xantini

There’s nothing as selfless as being a volunteer. Amongst many things, you have to leave your comfort zone and live away from home for the duration of the program. You get to meet different people from different background and that is when adjusting becomes a necessity and above all being a team player becomes a norm. Volunteering has boosted my confidence in so many ways and enhanced my passion for community development.




Nomaphelo “Pearlz” Magadla

My most difficult encounter as a volunteer was meeting new people and getting to know them (host parents and roommates). I started off as a passive young lady because I am naturally a shy and quiet person, but with time, I realized that it is really not about me anymore, it is about us as a team. I ended up doing everything I could for my team activities to succeed and become the best team ever.




Sithembisile “Thembie” Mhlongo

When I started my volunteer journey, I was reserved and afraid to talk in front of people, particularly people I was not familiar with. Throughout my 9 months with Restless Development, I have gained confidence and I fell in love with volunteering and doing work with no expectations of financial gain. I have learned and developed a lot from my journey as a change agent in Zeleni villages.






Noxolo Shallom “Noxy” Maki

For me, the journey has been all about giving back to the community and about growing and developing myself.
Volunteering is about dedication and serving without expecting anything in return but out of love and passion. The opportunity to change the lives of young people has kept me going and I believe that through learning and sharing, we can become an informed generation.




Anelisa “Lisa” Mbatha

Being a volunteer means leaving your comfort zone and doing something out of the goodness of your without expecting any compensation. It is about giving back to the community, church and school through helping young people and exposing them to things that I was not enlightened about growing up that could have cautioned me against making irresponsible decisions. The passion for volunteering grows when you keep encountering issues that need your intervention; it starts off small and over time, it overwhelms your heart with love and inspiration to do it every day.





Anelisa “Anellz” Qubuda

To me, being a volunteer simply means giving back a bit of what I know, learning new things towards building myself and those around me. It means preparing me and shaping a better me for the future and playing a role in changing the world.





Anita “Nita” Stanop

Through my journey as a volunteer, I gained the confidence to stand in front of people and talk without fear. I learned independence and the ability to stand on my own. I got the opportunity to live with different people, who have their own way of doing things and reasoning and that helped me to find myself and stand for what I want without losing my identity.




Khaya “Kaizer” Nodlaba

Being a volunteer means giving back to the community by serving and doing what could sometimes be perceived as insignificant when you are doing it. But it could be impacting the life of the receiver in a great way. There is an African proverb that says, “It takes a community to raise a child” and so by giving back to the community, it is my way of showing gratitude for the way my own community raised me. I have stretched myself beyond my limits and I stepped out of my comfort zone by doing what is beneficial to others while enjoying and learning new skills as well.




Nkosivile “Nkosi” Sopangisa

This picture was taken when I was co-facilitating an event in my former high school. Back in high school, I was a very shy individual and the day of this event was my first time I had ever stood firm and spoken in front of a crowd and former teachers who still remembered me as a reserved young man; they were surprised to see me taking on the role of an MC so well. Helping people has always been my dream because I want to leave a mark and change lives and in the end, have something that I can be proud of. I have gained confidence and learned to trust myself and can openly voice my opinions without fear. Volunteering is never easy, you get to meet different people who react to situations differently and some people confide in you with sensitive issues and as a sympathetic person; that would sometimes get to me. I can, however, attest that I have grown and developed in the greatest way possible.



Anita Olwethu “Anne” Ludwele

For me, volunteering means taking some time out and doing something with the hope that it will make a difference, however small, in someone’s life. I believe that I am capable of bringing about change and contributing towards progress in our society.







Zizipho “Zish” Qangase

As I Restless Development volunteer, I have been involved in the community by facilitating sessions in career guidance, life skills, livelihoods, Sexual and Reproductive Health & Rights (SRHR) as well as awareness campaigns. My volunteer journey has been wonderful and having to deal with young people has been a lovely experience. This is a role that requires passion and perseverance.





Melikhaya “Mellz” Nomqonde

People perceive volunteerism as a difficult task simply because there is no monetary gain but the reality is that it is not like that. It is wise to take in changing lives for the better out of love and passion. Being a volunteer is the first step in my journey to becoming successful. My biggest challenge was standing in front of people and addressing them but because of the Youth Leaders Today for Tomorrow program, it has become a passion and a hobby.





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12 young South Africans on what it means to lead change in local communities

by Douglas Imaralu Reading time: 5 min