Unlocking the leadership potential in young South Africans

Warda Gertse – Intern – F2F South Africa 2011-2012

Warda Gertse

The youth of post-apartheid South Africa are fortunate to have a democracy which allows them to express themselves as well as allow them to choose what they want to be, without state-sponsored segregation. This freedom from oppression, however, does not mean that the youth has no challenges. Although the youth are privileged in numerous ways, there are a number of  fears and obstacles that our generation is  facing, that is:  drug abuse, gangsterism, teenage pregnancy, rape, low standards of education, poverty, unemployment, crime and violence, and HIV/AIDS to name a few. 

Witnessing many of my family members being subjected to drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, dropping out of school and not being able to get a job, has made me aware of the life-long effects these situations create. I firmly believe in the power of leadership and affording the youth with skills to be leaders and take control of their lives. The Face to Face experience has allowed me to realise the potential I have and made the journey into adulthood an incredible one.

My journey with Face to Face/Faith to Faith began in 2006 as a participant of the programme. Meeting with the youth from different parts of the world, engaging in dialogue, numerous workshops and activities has created awareness of the world around me and its happenings.

The experience has allowed me to embrace those who are different to me rather than do nothing at all. It has also assured me of who I am and what my beliefs are. Through this, I realised no matter what age or gender a person is, by speaking up and having faith in yourself, you can achieve anything you put your mind to. This opportunity has also made me more open-minded, which inturn has inspired me to become a journalist. I know now that words can be a powerful tool to make a difference.

Five years after my participant year, I had been blessed to be chosen as a Face to Face staff member. This has been a phenomenal experience! Being able to give back to the programme has been very rewarding to me and to the new participants. The programme has permitted me to grow, learn and see things from new perspectives. I particularly enjoyed one of my roles as a cabin counsellor. Sharing a space with an amazing, diverse group of girls and reflecting on those days.

These are the memories that I will treasure. This experience has showed me first hand that we as human-beings are able to coexist peacefully in this world no matter what our beliefs are.

As the intern of Face to Face South Africa, 2011-2012, I have gained a lot of experience working with the Regional Director, Revd. Natalie Simons. I was tasked to assist in the preparation and overseeing of the different phases and logistics of the programme. Through these various phases, I got to know the 2011 South African Home Group. This has allowed me to see their experience of Face to Face, which successively has inspired and further increased my love and passion for this work.