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Sunday, 18 May 2014

Tanzania's David Mwendele on How He Broke Out of Abject Poverty to Empowering Young People in His Community

Meet David Mwendele, a young man who was born into abject poverty, but is today giving other young people in his community skills and a voice. He was born in Morogoro,Tanzania by a teenage mother who suffered immeasurable rejection in the hands of her people, she had been thrown out of the house by her parents who didn't want to be associated with their daughter’s unwanted pregnancy; David grew up with the feeling many young people in his community struggled with; the feeling of being unwanted and uncared for.

At age 6, his mother disappeared in a manner his young mind could not retain, leaving him to confront his battles alone. In his plight, the poor boy was forced to move in with his uncle, a farmer who eventually sent him to Dar es Salaam where he lived with a poor woman who became a mother figure to him. He and his foster mother struggled to get by each day. After his primary education, David took a job at a counter book factory, in a bid to support his family and also raise some money to pursue a secondary education. All his effort still wasn't  yielding enough dividend and his dream of going to secondary school seemed bleak.

But then there was still an option left, it sure looked like his only hope at the time, but taking it would mean leaving his family and going after his dream while staying back with his family meant perpetual penury. David took the challenge and joined Hananasif orphanage and in the same year, he gained admission into Hocet orphanage secondary school located at Mkuranga, Coast Region in Tanzania. 

In 2010 after his education, he discovered that most young people in his community were languishing in ignorance and juvenile delinquencies as they didn't have the privilege to enjoy the kind of exposure he had. “I was very frustrated seeing fellow youth who were not lucky enough to get an education suffering. I was in that situation before I was taken in by the orphanage and offered education. I really wanted to do something to support my community,” he says.

The need to give back to his community and save his fellow young people who were heading for destruction propelled the young change maker to start a charity he called Let God Be You Foundation (LGBY) to provide quality education and life skills to youth aged 14-18. The organisation teaches young people computer literacy, English language proficiency and entrepreneurship. He started out by securing a loan from a friend, with which he began training youths on how to make hard cover exercise books, a skill he learned after working long hours at a factory in his teens.

In 2012 David Mwendele was named an Anzisha Prize finalist and was a awarded a cash prize of US$2,000 with which he diversified his organisation’s interest to include an internet café and LGBY Media, a company that specialises in video and TV production, graphics design, photography and making documentaries. He also purchased equipment for the internet café, which offers training to local youth and services such as printing and photocopying.

Since starting LGBY foundation, he has trained more than 140 youths and set them on the right course. The foundation which started its operations in a church has since moved to larger space and has taught numerous young people the use of computer, embroidery, T-shirt printing, baking and photography skills etc. “I was raised in a poor family, I lived on the street begging for money and I was later taken to school by strangers who gave me food and other basic needs. That had a profound effect on my life and how I view things. I really want to do business. I want to succeed in life, but I want to make sure I use my money, my time and my skills to serve my community.”
To the young ones this genius states unequivocally; “Don’t focus on money. Focus on the idea you have and use the resources within your community whether it is from parents, siblings or neighbours,” he says. “When you are young and you do great stuff people are more likely to acknowledge your efforts and offer you support.”

1 comment:

  1. It is a thing of joy seeing young Africans devoting their time to building others.