Content Partner: Activate! Leadership for Public Innovation

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
– Gandhi

I am Pearl Pillay:Wits University, 3rd year International Relations/Political Studies, Activist; Greenpeace Ambassador: Youth Parliament of South Africa, President: Amnesty International (Wits), Vice-President: Wits School of Social Sciences Council, Member of Golden Key, Lover of Cows.

I’m a 20-year-old, Durban-born, free-spirited, student of Politics who is going to change the world. I am currently living and studying in Johannesburg. I am an Activator because I believe in the fundamental principle that every person, no matter their status or circumstance, can change the world, and, if not the world, then they can at least change someone’s world.

My passion lies in many different causes. I don’t believe in separating issues. Mostly, I am an advocate for the protection and promotion of human and animal rights, the preservation of the environment, and multi-lingual literacy (which includes the reclamation of African languages in an English-speaking world).

I am driven by love.

I feel that we live in a world where people do not fully understand the power of the human capacity to love. Branded as a “hippie”, I strongly believe that love can, indeed, change the world. When we free ourselves from the shackles of difference, embrace each other as equals, and allow love to navigate our causes, we automatically set ourselves up for victory. I am driven by the spirit of Ubuntu. I believe we are all connected, and that it is our duty, as human beings, to help each other.

The Activate experience for me, thus far, has been perhaps one of the most life-changing concepts I could ever have been a part of. Never in my life did I think I could connect, on such a high level, with such a huge range of people. Never did I once imagine that I could learn so much from people in such a short amount of time.

I left the first module feeling, not just inspired, but eternally humbled as well. I learnt the power of conviction because I saw the true face of activism and found that, contrary to what the world has shown, activism doesn’t come from a YouTube video. Activism comes from people doing so much, with so little. Why? Because they too, are driven by love, that simple, powerful concept.

I think a major breakthrough for me was being privileged enough to hear people’s stories. I’m a firm believer that a lifetime of work-shopping will not teach you half as much as a conversation with a stranger will, and that held true during the first module. Although we were blessed with extremely effective facilitators, who provided us with crucial tools for innovation, I felt like I had walked away from that camp a better human being, because of my interactions with people, more than anything.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
– Gandhi

Gandhi perfectly summed up where I, as an Activator, am going. Despite the many trials and challenges, I know, through the tools gained in this programme, that I will win. I will change the world.


Activate! Leadership for Public Innovation is a national network of young people committed to social transformation. United across race and class, they will develop the perspectives and skills of innovation needed to tackle some of South Africa’s most challenging social issues.
To find out more, contact Activate! on: or