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Towards the end of 2021, Amava Oluntu concluded that we needed the views of the youth to contribute to Amava’s vision. Who better to guide Amava than those who truly know the Vrygrond community and surroundings? Thus, the Youth Hub was created to add the authenticity needed to tackle challenges from the inside.

Paula Qamata is one of the Youth Hub members set on this journey to promote change. After living her whole life in Gugulethu, Cape Town, Amava was lucky enough that paths crossed in 2018. As a self-proclaimed travel bug, Paula jumped at the opportunity to visit the Eastern Cape and Germany during the 2018 YoUbuntu Exchange. She described it as an “amazing” experience, and it gave her the chance to “learn a lot about people”.

Group of happy youths

Paula (top right) with the German-South African exchange group during the 2018 YoUbuntu Project.

From YoUbuntu, Paula was also involved in the ASA project, where a group of South Africans and Germans gathered virtually to discuss Global Learning and how to make an impact in an interconnected world. Paula took a lot away from the journey, such as “learning about the cultures, learning about the different types of people…learning about yourself, and self-reflection”.

Two people laughing and smiling

Paula and her ASA Project teammate, Christian Mbombo.

You would never know that Paula labels herself as shy. On the contrary, she is a ray of sunshine who comes across as an incredibly warm people’s person. Undeniably, this has to do with her beaming demeanour. Paula shared that she is “proud of the fact that every single day, [she] gets to smile and laugh – because [she] loves laughing and smiling.”

Even though studying photography wasn’t for her, Paula didn’t allow that to influence her love of taking photos. Academically, Paula moved to digital marketing, where she recently graduated to become a certified social media manager. Throughout her studies, Paula “was able to be that creative person” she always wanted to be.

Paula laughing during the YoUbuntu exchange

Paula doing what she loves best: laughing.

After being involved with Amava and her community for the past couple of years, Paula has a clear understanding of the people she works with. “I would say they are very proactive. They are open, caring, and generous…they are humans,” is how she portrays those with who she interacts. She hopes that she can add to this community. “I really like to see people smile because happiness is contagious. If you’ve had a bad day, I won’t let you go to sleep with a frown on your face. I would hope that I would bring some sort of happiness… and I hope I bring someone to a place where people can talk, because more than anything, I like it when people express themselves.”

Initially, Paula had an inkling of doubt when joining the Youth Hub. “It sounds exciting but daunting at the same time because you’ve got this weight on your shoulders. You have a certain responsibility that needs to go into this project.” Yet, she turned this around to be a strong and positive response by sharing with us that “you won’t grow if it doesn’t scare you. You need to challenge yourself because you don’t want to stay in a sense of comfort my whole life.”

YoUbuntu 2018 team members

Paula and a few of her YoUbuntu team members during the 2018 exchange.

As a final sentiment, Paula’s hope for Amava’s future truly justified her place in the Youth Hub:
“Amava needs to continue being that force that the youth don’t really have because sometimes in this crazy dog-eat-dog world, you need somebody to motivate you. I hope Amava can keep doing that – keep pushing the youth and help them to get where they need to go. We must continue to grow and be a stronghold for the youth.”

Are you interested in helping Paula make a difference? Donate today to support Amava Oluntu’s changemakers.

Joanne du Randt

After earning her Postgrad in Public Health, Joanne was thrilled to join Amava Oluntu as a Public Health intern to explore her passion for health and social equality.