Being part of the Ashley Kriel Youth Leadership Development Project was an absolutely amazing, life changing experience from the exposure to the different people, to the issues discussed.
The theme of the Project for 2014 is ‘Freedom to Create Change’. Now that we as South Africans have freedom in South Africa it is our responsibility to continually ask ourselves what the ways are in which we create change and in so doing improve the lives of others? Another topic of discussion was “Freedom and Reconciliation”, discussing how we reconcile with one another. South Africa is characterised by great inequality, unemployment, particularly among the youth, changing leadership dynamics and perceptions towards current leadership. When dealing with reconciliation we have to revisit and reflect on the past, so as to reconcile. After having revisited the past and reflecting on how those events have shaped us, we had to reconcile the past and the present. It is only then that we can begin to talk about reconciliation among South Africans. Some participants were of the opinion that we are unable to reconcile whilst there is still material inequality.
We as the Youth stand to confront contemporary issues we are faced with. We have to set aside racial differences. We therefore had to come up together, different in race and colour, to build South Africa.
Prior to my involvement with the Ashley Kriel Youth leadership Development Project I had never been in such a space before. Being around like-minded young people of different backgrounds and identities, each one bringing in his/her own story, his/her own plan for change and reconciliation in South Africa. The zeal and passion of the facilitators and the participants is what made the project so powerful. The hospitability of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation is something indescribable. With this project I was introduced to a brave new world. A world of intense, structured and meaningful dialogue that gets one fired up to go and make a change.
Through the various workshop sessions and engagements with fellow participants I had to confront difficult things. I have had to interact and work with people I never thought I would have worked with. In so doing I have learned to try to be objective in my judgement and critique and fair in my decisions.
I can proudly say I have grown immensely in terms of advancing my own thinking, dialogue, communication and team work. After this Project I am highly motivated to lead myself so as to lead others. To live as an example and a servant of my people. I feel I have a huge responsibility not only towards myself but towards the masses, the nation. I am taking this and going with it.