Growing up as a young girl from the streets of a local place around Rustenburg, Marikana, was hard and very challenging. I was surrounded by different social-economic issues including crime, rape, teenage pregnancy and peer-pressure. The majority of the youth has resorted to crime, substance abuse and have become victims of children who have dropped out of school. But I have a different story to tell about these different situations that I see almost every day of my life. It is true when God says “With man, it’s impossible, but with Christ it is possible”.

I’m a 17-year-old young lady who is driven by success, strives to see others happy, a big dreamer and wants to make a difference in people’s lives. I grew up as a shy girl but ever since I started doing public speaking my self-esteem grew and it led to the person that I am today. I found my inner purpose which is to stand out and be unique. I have been criticized and judged by people because of the decisions I have made as a teen.

I don’t party at night neither do I drink or smoke. YES, it doesn’t make me a saint, but it makes me stand out from a lot of my peers. This decision made me lose a lot of people who I thought were friends. But it never really got to me because I knew my purpose in life which was to be UNIQUE, to make a difference and to be successful.

Being different means not being afraid to challenge the norm, willing to take a chance, chasing your dreams and being the person that you’re meant to be. I live to stand out and not to be like the person who is sitting next to me. I tend to ask myself this question, “What is the purpose of living?” when I see people trying to fit in into a certain group. Do we really live to be like our peers or do we live to stand out and be DIFFERENT?

Growing up to experience these things I’ve taken up a challenge to start an organization that will be able to address these social issues. Because I can’t stand and watch my fellow peers suffer and throw away their futures just like that. I believe that everyone has the potential to make a difference and the ability to succeed.

We as the future generation, the future leaders of South Africa or our local communities, need to stand up for what is right, but that’s all going to be possible if we start off with self-respect and introspection.

The most valuable thing an experienced person has is their experience. People make mistakes, learn from them, and adapt their life around them to become better people. Those people, would then tell tales to others to help teach those lessons so that others wouldn’t make the same mistakes. I’ve been told that I will not make it in life, but today I can proudly say that my dream of having an organization is becoming true.

On the 25th July 2016 I was invited to take part in the African Leadership Academy boot camp, which aims at helping the youth to acquire more skills and believe in themselves. Being part of it has helped me to put my thinking on paper, seek for more help and innovate something.

Life is about learning and becoming a better person, my dad is my inspiration because he didn’t let his background and past define his future. Today he is a successful man who leads people at church, a man who seeks for purpose in others and doesn’t give up easily. He persists in everything and because of him I’ve taken up Gods cross.

I keep on keeping on because I’m not a slave to fear, but a young God-fearing lady who is about to change and make a difference. I’ve been abused, failed at something, judged wrongly by friends, had to beg for money so I can get something to eat at times. But I never saw all those challenges as a reason to give up on life or rather by having a ‘Blesser’ to provide for me. NO. I didn’t because prayer, faith, support helps one to become better and see things from a different angle. This is my story. I’m Fortune Mbopo and don’t judge a book by its cover.