TRAINER PROFILE: Tracey Mtshweni | Children's Radio Foundation

We use radio to amplify youth voices across Africa, giving them the skills and tools to speak about their lives

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Tracey is a youth facilitator for the ‘Powerful Young Leaders’ young reporters in Mamelodi, South Africa. Here she shares her journey with the Children’s Radio Foundation.

Location: Mamelodi, Pretoria, South Africa

I am 25 years old, born and bred in Mamelodi. I am currently working for Mams FM which is Mamelodi community radio station, I do a show there from 10 am until 2 pm. I am also a youth mentor/facilitator for a children’s programme and I am also the finance head for the station during the week. And I love channelling my energy towards positive development!

My family is from and still lives in Mamelodi. My dad is from the east and my mom in the west. I have got two beautiful little sisters and an elder sister, so we are just a bunch of girls.

How did you get involved with CRF?

It was around February/March 2014 when I was doing a show called ‘The Navigation Show’ between 9 am and 12 pm. I was told that there will be a children’s show that would take away one hour of my show, making it two hours and I was angry about it because I didn’t understand why. So young people came to do this show and I could see their efforts in research and tackling different topics, and going to the community doing interviews. I really felt the need to help because I love young people. I helped them in presenting, and as time went by it happened that the two facilitators at the time had to exit the programme for whatever reason and then I was called in to be the new one.

How was the experience?

Wow, it was a different experience for me. I have been working with youth since I was in high school. I was a peer leader and I was a ground breaker so I was happy to take over the role. But this one was a different experience because it was radio and it wasn’t radio like I know it, so I learned a lot from these young ones. The seriousness of doing a show clock was amazing because usually I would do my show without it, because that’s how we sometimes do things at community radio stations. And also dealing with different types of young people, and the politics within the team… so we had to deal with a lot of issues. We had to restructure the whole setting in terms of how we do things in the team, but I enjoyed being there because these young people have been the biggest highlight of my life.

What was the best part of the training for you?

Hearing young people being given an opportunity to express themselves about their community, in terms of what they like and do not like, was great. It sounds easy to say it yet it’s not something you think about when you are alone, so hearing them I could understand what they think about, what they want to do or change, or to influence change or to be the change agents, which was really the best part for me.

Tracey Road Trip (34)

Tracey on a road trip in the Northern Cape with Rock Girls

What has been the highlight of your service?

The highlight of my service is that we were trained about Ubuntu. Yes, we associate it with Mandela and the saying “I am because you are” but something nice was brought into it. We did it in way that was never done before. We went to the community and found out that they know about Ubuntu but don’t really what it’s about or when and how to practice it. We did an outreach event with the theme Three Generations of Ubuntu where we had a mixture of young people; from Grade R, Grade 7 in high school, and varsity students. We were there just discussing Ubuntu and doing programmes with activities, so we were just having fun as a big family of young people, and that was the first highlight.

And secondly being nominated for the first time to be part of the Youth Radio Awards (YRA’s) in Cape Town. This was the highlight for the team too because they really worked hard to make sure they succeeded.  And lastly seeing them grow, because they really grow fast, seeing themselves working for big radio stations and following their dreams. That’s just my few highlights.

What difference do you think the program has made in the community?

Mamelodi as a community has many challenges and I assume many other communities do as well, but the people here give up easily. So when you come with a programme of change or action directly or indirectly, it’s hard to penetrate Mamelodi. But the difference we managed to make is to amplify youth voices because young people are never given a chance to speak up. We’ve got many organisations who involve youth, which is a good thing, but young people are never given a platform to speak without being monitored and being told what to say. So I think the programme gave them an opportunity to dialogue, the show has created dialogue through shows and events throughout the community of Mamelodi where people are talking. We now have a social media group called #UBUNTU, so whatever you want to share, be it opportunities for young people, challenges or whether there’s a strike somewhere. These are not just the youth in the project but the youth in the community. And it’s nice to see the teachers’ involvement in this because they really love it because it motivates the youth.

Where do you see yourself in the next decade?

Tricky question, but currently I am studying for Financial Accounting. I am a Social Leader, I am a Servant Leader but it’s also important for us leaders to get critical knowledge to make sure that our initiatives or programmes become strong. So right now I see myself as being an independent Financial Auditor but I never want to be away from mentoring the youth.

What’s your WORD POWER?

“My path lies in front of me, your path lies in front of you. It’s not your fault to be where you are or to be born where you are but it’s your fault to be where you are going so try to use whatever you can to follow your own path”.

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