June 28, 2020

In Conversation: Getting to Know Inspiring YouthLead Ambassadors

Posted By :Shakira ChoonaraPosted :Updated :June 29, 2020Share

As the YouthLead Platform grows from strength to strength, it has established an excellent mentor-mentee model (Advisor-Ambassador) to connect and support youth even further. As we celebrate the end of the 2020 first cohort of Ambassadors, it has been awe-inspiring working, connecting and serving as an advisor, supporting Humayun NosheerwanPhilbert AganyoDenaya Dennis and Owen Okoko.  I wanted to share their journeys during the pandemic specifically, because quite frankly sometimes getting to know the story behind the success is what keeps us all motivated, more so to celebrate these outstanding contributors to our space from social entrepreneurship to climate change, serving as a YouthLead advisor has been a great learning and connecting experience!

In Conversation: Getting to Know Inspiring YouthLead Ambassadors

This year, YouthLead piloted an Advisor-Ambassador model and I had the pleasure of meeting, connecting, supporting and catching up regularly with Humayun NosheerwanPhilbert AganyoDenaya Dennis and Owen Okoko.

As we round up our “official” tenures, I have no doubt the space for collaboration continues. Although, I wanted to just sit down, celebrate, take the time to tell you a little bit of the Ambassador’s stories which I enjoyed hearing over time, be inspired as you read!

  • Where did you grow up?

Humayun: I grew up on a farmhouse in a countryside, Chakwal (Pakistan) where we didn’t have electricity or running water. Later on, I moved to the capital city Islamabad where I studied and where I am currently residing and working.

Philbert: I was born and brought up in Homabay, a relatively small Lakeside town in Homabay County, Kenya. That is also where I schooled until High School, before moving to Nairobi. It is in Nairobi where I completed my University studies (University of Nairobi) before finally settling down here for work and family.

[Shakira: the demographer in me is thinking, trend, here is youth rural-urban migration right here and I wouldn’t mind a Kenyan curry right now]

  • Sum up, what do you do?

Humayun: In my personal and professional capacity, I try to engage young people foster collaborative relationships. I am using my academic knowledge and experience of business enterprise to create jobs and respectable livelihood opportunities for vulnerable youth.

Philbert: I am a Programme Management and Development Consultant who, besides professional work, spends significant time coaching and mentoring Youth focussing on personal branding, job preparedness and effective communication.

  • What inspired you?

Humayun: My mother Aqeela Begum has been a life-long. She dedicated her life to improve the lives of the poor and disadvantaged young girls in our community by providing shelter, food, and education. I believe her resilience, dedication and power of resolve is a guiding force in all of my actions.

Philbert: Growing up, I made several mistakes which are synonymous with lacking focus and direction. I also never had the privilege of being mentored in school by older youth and other young professionals. This would have played a significant role in enabling me, I believe. When I first joined the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) programme, I vowed to correct this, to do my very best in order to mentor and support youth.

  • What has been your absolute favourite moment as a YouthLead Ambassador?

Humayun: My favourite moments include monthly liaison calls with my advisor, Shakira, where we not only discussed the YouthLead ambassador tracker activities but also our personal opinions about different topics. I also enjoyed social issue campaign collaborating with a fellow YouthLead ambassador Jacmen Kouakou coordinated our efforts, despite being in different time zones. It was an exciting and valuable learning opportunity.

Philbert: The collaborations with fellow youth Changemakers from across the globe to tackle various societal and community problems from diverse backgrounds and angles, was simply an amazing experience. Also, having to self-account through the activity trackers during the programme, is a tool I will definitely be using after the programme!

[Respond: Shakira laughs/ smiles as she writes Humayun’s response not sure how to edits, so leaves as is]

  • What do you do in your chill time?

Humayun: I like to paint and create artwork using oil colours. I also have passion for fashion photography and digital art. Moreover, I also spend time reading extensively, mainly political and philosophical literature from around the world.

Philbert: I like watching a movie or a nice documentary on nature or geopolitical histories of our world. I also enjoy playing scrabble and solitaire on my smartphone. These keep me in touch with the realities of our world, that in this life we have to figure out, like a puzzle, our next moves, constantly.

  • What are you personally most afraid of during this pandemic?

Humayun: Personally, I am more afraid of infecting the elderly in my community and larger family.

Philbert: Contracting the disease or getting into a situation that will make the Government get me into a mandatory 14-day quarantine! Yikes! That scares me out of my skin.

[Shakira: sorry can’t help but laugh Philbert, don’t mean to]

  • What is your hope and dream for the future?

Humayun: My main hope is that in the future our world becomes a more peaceful, friendly, and open place for everyone, regardless of race, gender, nationality, ethnic or religious differences.

Philbert: One day I shall be able to stand upon the summit of intellectual greatness, and inspire and influence the Leadership of my Country Kenya, if I do not become the President, that is! Watch this space!

[Shakira: Ahhh, I am going to watch you both on the news, I just know it]

  • Three words of why you absolutely have to sign up to YouthLead? Go on, convince me?!

Humayun: Commitment, Leadership, and Hope!

Philbert: It’s the best!

Philbert and Humayun are only two of many inspiring ambassadors, advisors and young change-makers on the YouthLead platform connect today! Philbert, Humayun, Denaya, Owen and even other ambassadors I got to engage with this year including Asonele Kotu, Brian Mafuso, I can’t wait to see what else you will achieve! Let me stop name-dropping all these high-flyers, for now!

About the author: Dr Shakira Choonara is an award-winning independent public health practitioner, South Africa, and has served as both a YouthLead Ambassador and Peer Advisor

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