The Voice of Africa is the brainchild of Motswana Mpho Mpofu, having been founded in 2014 in Zimbabwe. The organization is the result of a pledge Mpho took at the International Conference on Child Marriages, which was hosted by the World Youth Foundation in Malaysia. Currently The Voice of Africa is a non-profit making NGO operating in Botswana and Zimbabwe with plans of branching out to other African countries. Its overreaching aim is to improve the livelihoods of youth, women and children in the African continent by promoting youth participation and involvement.
June 16th is a special day for the African youth and for many years it has been the norm to celebrate the day. The Voice of Africa however decided to do things differently this year by having a lead-up to the June 16th celebrations with 16 days of activism against child abuse. As part of their action plan, they aim to raise awareness on child marriages and child abuse. Mpho says they have realized that not all African countries are affected by conflict and war, but one thing that is prevalent in all is child abuse. This 16 days initiative brings together 90 youth volunteers and of course The Voice of Africa staff members from Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. They will work together to educate and raise awareness on the injustices faced by children.
Child abuse can be a silent killer as the biggest challenge to ending it is that sometimes children don’t even know they are being abused. With this initiative, The Voice of Africa aims to sensitize children, teachers and caregivers on how to look out for signs of abuse and the best way to provide safe spaces for victims of abuse. Through interactive workshops with students all over the aforementioned countries they hope that by the end of the 16 days to have educated children and imparted on them skills and knowledge to help either themselves or their friends and colleagues who might need help or a shoulder to cry on.
The 16 days initiative is not the only project The Voice of Africa works on, the Botswana team has hosted National Debate Competitions. These saw young people debating on issues that affect young people not just in Botswana but also in Africa as a whole and drawing up viable solutions to the problems. This is because they believe for change to be effective there is a need to involve the affected to help draw up solutions. Mpho says “we believe that lack of statistics does not mean that there is no problem instead it suggests that something has to be done.” Another great project they have come up with is the community outreach programs in Zimbabwe together with an annual Christmas celebration with a local orphanage.
The NGO has many other plans which will target their other areas of work which include; violence against women and children, youth unemployment, sexual reproductive health rights, alcohol and substance abuse, gender equality to name a few. It seems the organization although still regional is leaving its mark and making a difference and is well on its way to greatness.