Kamogelo Malensi: Volunteers in youth empowerment

Having graduated as a social worker at the University of Botswana in 2014, 25-year-old Kamogelo Malensi took special interest in the youth, ensuring that they are developed into potential and responsible leaders.

In one of her tweets she writes: “I aspire to help the youth define their lives before someone out there defines it for them.”

As a young person, she believes in an empowered, purposeful and fulfilled youth.

She volunteers in youth empowerment at Aiesec, where she is the national director for international operations.

Aiesec was originally a French acronym for Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences to mean Association of International Students in Science, Economics and Commerce.

Although the acronym says students in science, economics and commerce, Malensi says it is inclusive of all youth regardless of their field of study.

The young Motswana has been volunteering for youth empowerment activities since she was at the university, juggling the voluntary work with school, her other part-time job, sports and her personal life.

After her graduation in 2014, she sought no paid employment, opting to dedicate her time and energy in empowering the youth.

“I decided not to rush into paid employment, but rather to develop myself and my fellow youth through Aiesec. The youth are currently the generation that takes up most of the population composition in the world and it simply means that investing in them or not, largely determines the state of reality in future. So Aiesec has been my strong starting point to address the situation at hand.

“Aiesec’s vision is peace and fulfilment of humankind potential. We are one of biggest global youth-run organisations and our every day work is youth leadership development. We are interested in management and world issues and that explains why I volunteered at Aiesec in Botswana and in Malawi,” says the young woman who aspires to have a job consultancy for African youth some day.

The Aiesec programmes are geared towards building leaders who are self-aware, able to empower others and solution-oriented. With Aiesec, the youth are able to identify gaps and address them and they also learn to collaborate, network and develop soft skills.

“A lot of these things no one can sit in a class for,” she explains.

Malensi says they have facilitated one global talent to India and had 30 internationals to work on projects initiated by Aiesec and locally collaborated with organisations such as Price Waterhouse Coopers (their national sponsor); United Nations Women; Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare; mHub; Counterpart International and International Labour Organisation.

“We also have YouthSpeak, an Aiesec initiative that conducts surveys on youth care to provide decision-makers with key insights to generate projects and actions that impact the country.

“From those insights, a running theme is derived for the YouthSpeak Forum with which we have been able to gather over 300 youth to have conversation with senior leaders about issues affecting them and map actionable items,” she explains.

The forum also provides space for inspiring conversations around pressing national issues with the objective of creating actionable outcomes and projects to push the nation forward.

In all her activities, Malensi works with young volunteers from tertiary colleges as well as fresh graduates that are passionate about making the world a better place for everyone.

Born on June 15, the young social worker comes from a family of four; with an older brother, older sister and a twin.

Her father is a soldier in the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and her mother is a cleaner. She was raised by her late grandmother.

Although the family fully understands that she is only volunteering instead of generating income, she says they are fully aware of her quest to empower the youth by volunteering.

She notes that Aiesec helps the youth to dig within themselves and discover who they are, their passions and then follow that.

Malensi says they have been working within teams so that the youth learn how to communicate with members of diverse backgrounds and learn how to help each other to attain targets.

“By working with a wide range of cultures the youth are able to discover their strengths, weaknesses, values and passions. It also helps them to know other issues/trends in other cultures, which gets them interested and willing to make the world a whole lot better. We face challenging situations every day but we come up with ways forward, learning to start where you are with what you have,” she points out.

She has been working with the youth for quite some time now. In 2012 she worked with the department of youth in Jwaneng Town (Botswana) and in 2013 she worked with Mpule Kwelagobe Children’s Centre, also in that country.

“Working with the youth in Malawi and Botswana has made me realise a lot of vulnerability; issues of unemployment, lack of skills, not being included in decision-making, crime, pregnancies, as well as HIV and Aids,” she says.

While Aiesec Malawi was established in July 2014, and is still finding its roots, Aiesec Botswana is on a larger scale, having been there since 1993.

“My being outside Botswana is part of the bigger picture of impacting Africa. I really believe in Africa,” says Malensi.

She admits that it is still a new concept for the Malawian youth, but most of them have found it interesting.

Aiesec is a global network of young leaders under the age of 30 who strive to better themselves and the communities around them. They are passionate about world issues, leadership development, cultural understanding and experiential learning.

The organisation spans 126 countries and territories and every aspect of Aiesec’s operations are managed by students and recent graduates.

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