YOUTH DAY: 19-year-old student wants to change the fortunes of her peers

2018-06-16 13:42
Fortune Mvuleni Mbopo (Supplied)

Fortune Mvuleni Mbopo (Supplied)

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Fortune Mvuleni Mbopo hopes to inspire teenagers and young adults to realise that they are never too young to reach for their dreams.

Mbopo, 19, was born and raised in Mooinooi, a platinum mining town in the North West long past its heyday. She told News24 that opportunities were few and far between for her and her peers.

"I didn't really grow up in a place with a lot of opportunities. In our community, we don't have projects where the youth can get together and work towards their goals," she said.

"A lot of young people drank alcohol or smoked drugs and didn't know what to do. I grew up thinking that I am too young to do something or follow my dreams. I feel like I could have started earlier because I used my age to hold myself back."

Age doesn't matter

Mbopo, now a BA strategic communication and marketing student at the University of Johannesburg, only realised that age didn't matter once she arrived in the city. 

She started a movement called InspireATeen_SA which she hopes to register as an organisation this year.

"I want to inspire people. When you see potential in someone, it's difficult to keep quiet. I'll tell you to push and not give up. I want to inspire people to change their lives through looking at my life," she said.

"If we had this kind of thinking and projects in my small town, there would be less people dropping out of school and using drugs and alcohol."

She described the InspireATeen_SA movement as a "young and vibrant" movement changing the way young people and her peers look at the world through creative, smart goals-driven dreams.

#Saveourgirls

Mbopo said while growing up in Mooinooi she was disheartened to see how many young girls and women would miss school because they didn't have access to sanitary pads.

This prompted her to start the hashtag #saveourgirls in July 2016 to raise awareness, as well as to raise money for pads for poor girls and young women.

Mbopo said another thing that she tries to do with both campaigns is teach girls and young women about many of the things they might not ordinarily be told about when they are young.

"Sometimes our parents don't tell us certain things. I want to teach people and warn them about boyfriends, blessers, paedophiles and so on. So many girls get into trouble," she said.

Once she's done with her studies, Mbopo hopes to grow her organisation and spread its influence across all nine provinces of South Africa.

"I want to be a social entrepreneur and continue helping people."

Besides her philanthropic ventures, Mbopo is also the project leader for Gift of the Givers at the University of Johannesburg's APK campus, a model, and a current finalist for Miss Johannesburg. She is also fighting for a top-18 spot in Miss Tertiary SA.

Read more on:    youth  |  youth day
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