I grew up in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, a community infested by crime such as drugs, theft and gun violence. These sorts of crimes have led to the death of many young people. As a young foreigner, I felt it was never my place to do anything about the crime in my community, because there are older and indigenous people that can do it. Why should I do anything?

However, I got tired of waiting for people to make a difference. Hillbrow is my home. I realised I needed to be an active citizen. An active citizen is someone who cares about the community. An active citizen is someone who wants to see positive change and be the change. Being an active citizen means to be actively involved in the development of the community.

My future depended on my surroundings and how I grew up. If you grow up around crime, it becomes difficult to go to school. I felt unsafe going to school. By being an active citizen, I was able to build relationships with people who helped me to grow and learn. I decided to become an active citizen by joining the Hillbrow community radio so I could share what it means to be in Hillbrow and how we could keep our streets safe and clean for our families.

When I became an active citizen, I realised that most of the challenges that young people face can be resolved by coming together and helping each other. It is so important for every young person because it challenges you to be better.

In 2018, I completed my matric with a Bachelor’s entry into university. But I had only applied to two universities because my parents could not afford to pay R700 of application fees for a foreign student.

Without losing hope, I went to college in 2019. I had to drop out because my family could not afford to pay for the fees. Despite currently working in a restaurant, I have not lost hope; I still want to continue my studies. I want to improve my skills in the hospitality industry, because it could be one of my ‘aha’ moments. In January 2020, I moved to Cape Town to continue with a non-profit organisation called Junior Chamber International, which is involved in raising funds for girls to buy sanitary pads.

This changed everything about my life because I am now involved with other organisations willing to take part in this initiative. The organisation has made it possible for me to apply for fully paid internships that deal with communities. I have also continued to write my inspirational stories and poetry on my website, these stories are filled with emotions of depression, hatred and love. My website has become a success, I get to engage with people on social media, creating a platform for those that bleed like me.


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