Our facilitators and students have spent the past few months identifying various social challenges and brainstorming potential innovative solutions to these challenges. It has been an exciting process involving research and community engagement
Below are a few of the projects students are looking forward to implementing:
Masotsha LUT Club
One of our new partner schools, Masotsha Lead Us Today club has been making steady progress. The students realised that a significant number of students at the school are unable to pay school fees. The students have decided to assist their fellow schoolmates through holding a fun day and talent show every school term with all proceeds going towards school fees assistance.
The fun day and talent show are set to attract large crowds of students, young people and well wishers from the City of Bulawayo.
Eveline LUT Club
Proper sanitation is an essential element of human existence. The Eveline LUT club members would like to ensure that proper sanitation is provided within the school. The students noted that their school does not have an incinerator and would like to build one.
In order to build an incinerator, the students have a number of fundraising activities lined up to meet the costs associated with building an incinerator. Fundraising activities include car washes, cake sells among other things.
Nkulumane LUT Club
The Nkulumane students have decided to focus on improving from last year’s project. The project enables individuals living with disabilities to earn an income through creating handmade crafts.
This year, the students aim to add more community members to the project as well as widen the project beneficiaries’ skills set. The students would like more individuals living with disabilities to participate and benefit from the project. Additionally, the students would like the community members to enhance their craftwork skills through taking them under a training program that will enable them to make varied items such as woven baskets, lampshades and so forth.
We look forward to the great work our students will do this year!
Our vision is to a build a generation of socially responsible citizens in Zimbabwe. In our efforts to achieve this, we initiate a variety of activities. In this report, we share about several great platforms we engaged in.
Facilitator Refection Meeting
At the end of the academic school term, we were very pleased to celebrate with our forty facilitators who we deploy to work in our forty partner schools in Bulawayo, Gweru, Tsholotsho and Umzingwane. First, we enjoyed a great term of deep learning with them.
We held a reflection meeting for our facilitators at the scenic Hillside Dams. The main objective of the meeting was to encourage our team to critically reflect on the experience of being a facilitator and how they can use key lessons they have learned in the next school term.
The three critical areas of reflection were as follows:
The importance of guiding students through a learning process as they delivered our leadership and training program.
The importance of providing mutual support to each other as facilitators
This is a great learning opportunity for them as well
Our facilitators shared insightful lessons on all three areas and more. The team fully understands the vitality of their role as a facilitator and how they need each other as support systems in order to achieve set objectives. Lastly, the team acknowledged that their involvement with Lead Us Today is an opportunity to grow personally and acquire essential life skills before they head off to university.
Finally, they challenged each other to continue to but their best foot forward while constantly looking out for opportunities to provide innovative solutions to the problems around them.
LeadTalks: Rethinking Career Pathways
Our fifth LeadTalk featured two inspiring young people from Bulawayo.
The first speaker was Takunda Chingonzoh, an entrepreneur who shared a stage with President Barack Obama at the US-Africa Business Forum in August 2014, as a Mandela Washington Fellow. Takunda is the Founder of Neolab Technologies, a Zimbabwean incubator that is incubating some of the country’s most innovative start-ups. The second was Ernest Mackina, a Rotaractor who recently returned from a trip to India where he represented Zimbabwe at the Spark Conference in Mumbai. They both discussed thinking of career pathways in more creative and imaginative ways than we may have previously done.
Takunda highlighted how the changes in Zimbabwe’s economy have left very few jobs in the formal sector and urged many young people to look into entrepreneurship. He emphasized that the only way young people can become respectable entrepreneurs making innovative products is if they invest in themselves. He implored young people in the audience: “We need to persistently better ourselves, and become better, faster, smarter, more efficient if we want to be better than the 10,000 people who are just like you who want the same job or opportunity that you are chasing after. You have to gain that competitive advantage whether it is in business or in your career”.
Building on Takunda’s insights, Ernest added a more global perspective to the discussion. He drew from his experience of travelling to India to give a picture of how, in the future, young Africans will be competing for jobs and capital at a more global scale. As such, in developing talent, young people need to be thinking how they can be competitive in markets for ideas and jobs, such that they are able to gain attention from the world’s largest companies and biggest investors.
In all, this was a worthy and valuable LeadTalks session that generated a lot of rich conversation and challenged young people to think seriously and creatively about how they can contribute their talents in order to make the best of some of the biggest opportunities in the world.
Lastly, we would like to share exciting news and extend our warm congratulations to the following facilitators for their admissions to US universities:
If you would like to donate to Lead Us Today, please do so using the following link:http://bit.ly/SupportLUT2014
The last quarter of the year has been well spent on preparations for the 2015 cycle which promises to be exciting!
At the end of the programs cycle in July 2014, the Lead Us Today administrative team held a staff retreat for a strategic planning session. The strategic planning process assisted us in identifying key areas to work on and set targets for our work going forward.
We’ve made significant changes to our program and we cannot wait to register higher impact in the New Year. Below are details on some of the changes we’ve made:
The new programs cycle
Since our inception in 2010, our program has run from August to July. Starting in 2015, we will run our program from January to August, which coincides with the Zimbabwean academic year which runs from January to December. This change will enable us to have ample time with students to engage in our program without disrupting them during examination time at the end of the year.
In addition to adjusting the start of our program, we have revised our curriculum to suit the eight month period. We have included new, exciting project management concepts such as problem identification using the problem tree analysis and understanding the project cycle. We have given our student workbook a new look in the lay-out and design.
Facilitator – Gap Year Program
In the year 2012/13 we had our first cohort of facilitators, who were called mentors at the time. From the past two groups of facilitators we have enrolled, we have learned that our top performing and most committed facilitators are recent high school graduates.
With this in mind, we have adapted our facilitator program to be a gap year program in which recent high school graduates can learn, give back to the community and discover themselves while gaining critical skills to thrive in the country’s dire economic situation before they proceed to higher learning opportunities like university.
Throughout October and November, we called for ‘A’ level students to apply for the facilitator program and had a very high response. In the first week of December we held interviews and finally selected fifty facilitators who will deliver our training program and guide our students through project design and implementation in 2015.
Expansion to fifty schools
Starting January 2015, we will expand our program from twenty schools in three provinces to fifty schools in half of Zimbabwe. We have been engaging in the expansion process and have currently secured forty six schools. Lead Us Today will have a presence in the following provinces:
i) Bulawayo Metropolitan Province
ii) Matabeleland North Province
iii) Midlands Province
iv) Mashonaland East
v) Mashonaland West
vi) Mashonaland South
vii) Manicaland Province
Year End Fundraising Campaign
For a long time, you have continuously supported us in developing young leaders in Zimbabwe and we greatly appreciate it. Through your contribution, we have trained close to 1, 500 students who have worked on 28 projects.
We kindly request for your support once again as we prepare to develop more leaders and register higher impact in 2015. Lead Us Today is participating in the GlobalGiving Year End Campaign in which we stand a chance of winning a bonus award of $3,000! To qualify for the bonus award, we have to raise at least $3,000 from thirty unique donors.
We kindly request that you make a donation of at least $10 to help us qualify for the award which will certainly go a long way in providing quality training for young Zimbabwean students.
We also encourage that you share this opportunity with family, friends, colleagues, etc.
There’s just under a week to go until the Campaign ends, make your donation today!
Here is the donation link: http://bit.ly/SupportLUT2014
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!
Previously, we shared news of upcoming projects, our exciting fourth anniversary and how to continue contributing to the growth of our students. With so much exciting news to share this time around, we will capture as much as possible.
Lead Us Today Student Expo 2014
As per tradition, we round up our programs cycle through holding an annual event that celebrates our students work and their involvement with the community. The Expo is a platform where students exhibit their various projects and initiatives to local and international stakeholders.
We held this year’s Expo at the the City’s prestigious Large City Hall which was well attended by local, leading individuals from both corporate and non-profit sectors; students and supporters of our work. Eighteen schools had stalls and over four hundred people attended the Expo.
Our Guests of Honour were our international guests- Sir Mark and Lady Moody-Stuart and Dr. Bruce Jackson. Sir Mark is former Chair of Shell and Anglo-American; while Dr. Bruce Jackson is Excecutive Director at C. Charles Jackson Foundation and CEO at The Instute of Applied Human Excellence in the United States of America.
A representative from the Provincial Education Director’s office officially opened the event on behalf of the Provincial Education Director, Mr. Dan Moyo.
The program was engaging as Dr. Jackson and Dalumuzi Mhlanga (Lead Us Today Founder and CEO) both delivered eloquent, thought provoking speeches. Three community project beneficiaries shared their experience and involvement
Project presentations were done by representatives from Mzilikazi High School (Bulawayo), Mvuthu High School (Esigodini) and Young Women’s Christian Association (Gweru).
Mzilikazi embarked on an initiative to reduce litter in the CBD. They turned metal barrels (or drums as they are known here) into rubbish bins. One bin was placed in their school as a donation and three more were set to be placed in strategic points in the city centre.
Mvuthu High School shared progress on how their educational assistance project is going. The stationery is selling well and they mentioned that they anticiapte to fund one student at the start of the next academic term.
YWCA presented on their candle-making project and even had samples of their candles and their candle making machine on display at their stall.
Students from Nkulumane High School presented a short drama that highlighted key lessons they have gained from their experiences with Lead Us Today. Some of these key lessons included the importance of self-worth; serving the community and planning for the future.
Enteratinment was provided by an energetic group of youngsters from Cementside Primary School and the melodious voices of a local all-female group called Harmony.
After the main presentations and speeches were given, guests toured all the colourful and well decorated stalls where they interacted with students and community project beneficiaries and gained more knowledge on the projects implemented.
Project Tour with International Supporters
July 31st marked the end of our 2013/14 programs cycle. Our international guests and supporters, Sir Mark and Lady Moody-Stuart and Dr. Bruce Jackson joined us prior to the Expo and visited project sites.
Between 4 and 5 August, our guests toured several projects in Esigodini, Gweru and Bulawayo.
In Esigodini, they visited the community garden project initiated by students from Esikhoveni Secondary School; as well as the uniforms for all project by Mawabeni Secondary School. They enjoyed interacting with the students, learning more about the projects and even engaged in song and dance at one point.
In Gweru, they managed to visit YWCA’s candle-making project and saw first hand how the candles are made. W. Booms College students showcased their educational blocks project which involves producing wooden educational toys which can be used in Early Childhood Development Centres to stimulate a child’s intellectual development through play.
In Bulawayo, our guests visited Nkulumane High School, who are working with physically challenged community members and equipping them with craftwork skills. On display were ready made bags, picture frames and cups made from baboab.
2014/15 Fundraising Campaign
As mentioned previously, we aim to raise US$25, 000. To date, through your support, we have managed to raise $11, 855.
We greatly appreciate the support and kindly implore you to continue making donations and assist us in raising the remaining $13, 145.
If you would like to make a donation, here is the donation link: http://bit.ly/SupportLUT2014
In our previous report, we shared about Lead Us Today’s participation in a global forum in Abu Dhabi, the establishment of our Alumni Association and most importantly, the project ideas our students were working on.
Community Development Project Kick-off
We are happy and proud to share exciting news as four projects have been initiated so far. Maranatha Adventist High School got the ball rolling when they launched their project on 23 May. The project aims to equip a few ladies from the Nketa community with alternative income sources. The students secured land within their school for the ladies to grow crops for sale. This will be highly beneficial to these women as they will be able to augment their current meagre income which they make through selling snacks outside the Maranatha school gate. The women will be able to grow a variety of crops and vegetables which they will sell in various markets in the city. The students together with the project beneficiaries have cultivated the land and made sixgarden beds.
One of our new schools in the rural community of Umzingwane District in Esigodini, Mvuthu High School, has decided to provide educational assistance to less privileged students within their school community. In Zimbabwe, it is common practice for school authorities to chase away students who have not paid their school fees. The Mvuthu Lead Us Today students want to afford students the opportunity to an education. As such, they have purchased stationery which they intend to sell. The profit will be used to pay school fees for students whose families are unable to do so.
Nkulumane High School initiated a project which will empower individuals living with disabilities in the Nkulumane 4& 5 townships. The students partnered with a craftswork expert who trained them to make products such as bags and picture frames using low cost, natural resources such as straw. The students will then in turn train the individuals living with disabilities to make the bags and picture frames which will be sold to various markets and tourist destinations within our country. This initiative is empowering a minority group which faces many socioeconomic challenges and giving them a platform to earn a living and support their families.
Our students have generated local, innovative and sustainable solutions that leverage local resources to solve local challenges. We look forward to the initiation of the remaining projects and sharing updates with you.
4 years of great impact!
On 30 May Lead Us Today turned four! To commemorate this milestone, we held an intimate event for students on the day, where they shared their reflections, experiences, and favourite moments over the past four years. Our Guest of Honour was the Provincial Education Director, Mr. Dan Moyo, who delivered an informative and motivational speech. He shared various models that students can use to bridge the gap between the corporate world and social development. He went on to encourage students to continue working on bettering communities.
We are excited to have reached this milestone and would like to thank you for helping us achieve the following over the last four years:
All the above would not have been possible without your continued support.
2014/15 Fundraising Campaign
As we draw closer to the end of our current program cycle, we will begin our fundraising campaign for next year’s program on June 25, 2014 through a YouthSpark Bonus Day. On the day, $200,000 will be available in matching funding. Your donations of up to $1,000 will be matched 100%! There are many other organizations, which will benefit from this matching opportunity, so please make sure to make your contribution a few minutes after 12pm, EDT before matching funds run out.
In order to stretch your contribution, please plan to make a donation on June 25, 2014 soon after 12pm, EDT and help us reach our goal to raise US$25 000 for our 2014/15 programs cycle.
Once again, we appreciate your support.
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