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From a Photography Workshop to Exciting Professional Photography Gigs

Hi, my name is Mbali Radebe, and I consider myself a change maker, poet, content creator, radio presenter, and aspiring project manager. 

I joined Ubuntu Hub in September 2022, and the project has had a significant impact on my growth, both in my interpersonal skills and in my career. As an aspiring project manager, I had the opportunity to collaborate with innovative and brilliant minds towards a common goal. I learned more about the importance of environmental care and mutual support, experienced the power of learning by doing, and, most importantly, had the chance to bring my ideas to life.

One of the standout moments during my time at Ubuntu Hub was the photography workshop held at Braamfontein with “We Are,” featuring Lee-Roy Jason, one of South Africa’s top photographers, as one of the speakers. Following this workshop, Lee-Roy Jason welcomed me as a member of his photography team. This led to photography opportunities on major stages, capturing household names in the South African entertainment industry, and securing collaborations with renowned brands.

Another profoundly impactful event at Ubuntu Hub was “Make Something Week,” held in Braamfontein with a surprise trip to Tembisa. This week-long initiative taught me that anything is possible through collaboration, a willingness to learn and teach, and by gathering the right resources. I gained insights into upcycling and the consequences of consumerism. Being part of the team that orchestrated the entire process, from planning to execution, was an enriching experience, and our team spirit remained strong throughout.

Written by Mbali Radebe

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Harnessing Youth Innovation at Ubuntu Hub: Driving Climate Advocacy on Earth Day

As we mark another Earth Day, the urgency of addressing climate change has never been clearer. From rising temperatures to extreme weather events, the impacts of climate change are being felt around the world. In this pivotal moment, it is essential to harness the creativity and innovation of young people to drive climate advocacy and propel meaningful action. In this blog, we will explore the role of youth innovation and creativity at Ubuntu Hub in promoting climate advocacy, and how their fresh perspectives can inspire transformative change.

Young people possess a unique ability to think outside the box, challenge the status quo, and envision a better future. Their fresh creative perspectives, coupled with their proficiency in technology and social media, make them powerful agents of change in the fight against climate change. By harnessing their creativity and innovation through art, we can unlock new solutions to address the complex challenges posed by climate change and accelerate progress towards a more sustainable world.

Art has long been a powerful tool for raising awareness and inspiring action on social and environmental issues. Through visual arts, music, poetry, and other forms of creative expression, young artists at Ubuntu Hub are shining a spotlight on the impacts of climate change and calling for urgent action. Whether it is through powerful murals, thought-provoking poems, or stirring music performances, art can convey the urgency of the climate crisis in ways that resonate deeply with people of all ages.

Moreover, education is key to empowering young people to become effective advocates for climate action. By integrating climate ideologies, sustainability, and environmental justice into Ubuntu Hub programs, we equip youth with the knowledge, skills, and values they need to understand the complexities of climate change and engage in meaningful advocacy efforts. Hands-on learning experiences, training programs, and workshops, and youth-led initiatives are invaluable in nurturing the next generation of climate leaders.

As we celebrate Earth Day and reflect on the state of our planet, let us harness the power of youth innovation and creativity to drive climate advocacy and accelerate progress towards a sustainable future. By empowering young people to use their voices, talents, and ideas to advocate for climate action, we can inspire transformative change and build a more resilient world for generations to come. Together, let us stand with youth around the world and commit to taking bold and decisive action to address the climate crisis.

Happy Earth Day!

By Kutloano Ramotshela

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Rising from Adversity: Karabo Seretsi’s Journey to Redemption and Success at Ubuntu Hub

“Arriving in the city of Johannesburg for the first time to attend an audition at Ubuntu Hub turned my life around.”

Meet Karabo Blake Seretsi, a 19-year-old from a small town in the North West province of South Africa. She grew up as an odd one out at home, school, and in the community, with a deep anxiety about talking or meeting people. Blake immersed herself in church activities, and spending time alone became her solace. This reclusive personality persisted until her parents convinced her to join sports at school, and she decided to be part of the hockey team, where she excelled and felt confidence in herself for the first time.

This newfound self-worth was shattered when her parents separated in 2020, and she had to move to the Gauteng Province with her mother, which also meant changing schools. This move coincided with the global lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She only got to attend her new school for two months before staying at home. This led to a relapse in her childhood personality disorders, and she was ultimately diagnosed with manic depression and generalized anxiety, requiring admission to a psychiatric hospital.

As time passed, her journey to recovery began, and in 2023 she met a new friend who sent her a text inviting her to Johannesburg for an audition for the Leak fashion show at Ubuntu Hub. She arrived in Johannesburg for the first time. “I had never heard of Ubuntu Hub before, but when I arrived, I was warmly welcomed by friendly faces and voices. The Ubuntu Hub staff explained the project to the audition group, and I really felt at home, like I had found a home.”

After the auditions, she was invited to be part of the 100 Movement, an NGO modeling agency that harnesses the talents of young and aspiring models without charging a fee. Then, Ubuntu Hub hosted Make Something Week, where she volunteered to be an MC for the musical show “a dream I always had.”

During the Make Something Week musical show, a TV producer was part of the audience and spotted her amazing talent, offering her her first job as a TV presenter for a show called Lyrics Debunked. “Ubuntu Hub has become a safe space for me and has opened up opportunities that I never thought possible for me.”

Story provided by Ubuntu Hub, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Reclaiming Our Future

A few youths climbed over a fence and pulled up a ladder. The sunbeams hit the blue sky, and the wind was still. One after another, they climbed onto a big oil truck and pulled out a large banner that read, “Oil and fossil fuel are killing current and future generations.”

Olga, a youth climate activist, began her engagement in the newly built movement called “Reclaim the Future.” The purpose behind the movement is to use peaceful civil disobedience and direct action to highlight the urgent triple planetary crisis. Reclaim the Future describes itself as a movement by young people, for young people—a radical community committed to taking care of each other and peacefully standing against the industries that threaten our chances for life: the fossil fuel industries.

The driving force behind Olga’s engagement, as she herself notes, is “Since the situation is so urgent, we need to use all possible tools to prevent a disaster, and I wanted to try to make as much difference as possible.” Reclaim the Future stands out from other climate youth movements in Sweden since we direct our actions primarily at the fossil fuel industry, but also because we have as a foundational pillar to take care of each other.

Many climate justice activists today risk burnout, and therefore, we need to take care not only of the earth but also ourselves. Olga has learned throughout the years that the fight for climate justice is not a short sprint but rather a long marathon—a commitment that requires both sustainability and community. We cannot burn ourselves at both ends as our politicians do by not acting while the earth is covered in flames. We need to rest simply to navigate this crisis, and no one should feel guilty about that—because when one person rests, there are others out there who can take over. Community is central to building resilience for us as a movement and individuals, and it is also a central part of building holistic well-being for all living things, including the earth.

Momentum in Stockholm has enabled us to create just that—a welcoming and safe space for our community to flourish. We have painted banners ahead of actions, made community meals, held workshops about climate justice and wellbeing, played board games, and simply rested. The most valuable contribution that Momentum has provided our movement with is the fact that it’s a space where our activism is not challenged or questioned; rather, it is encouraged and celebrated. 

Olga’s first impression when stepping into Momentum was, “This is a place that exists for us and exists here to support us.” Olga also said that if someone wants to become active, it is nice to have a safe space to introduce them to, like Momentum. You don’t have to do things yourself; there is a community of people welcoming you. We are stronger together, and we also have a lot of fun. Activism is about fighting a lot, but it’s also about enjoying and celebrating the small wins. The only way to keep doing this for as long as it’s needed is by surrounding yourself with people who support each other and are willing to think outside the frames of the current system. Momentum helps us envision another future, where we are not fighting a war against earth and humanity, but rather living in peace.

Hours often pass by when sitting upon the oil tanks, but once again, you are capable of doing that thanks to your community. The fight will need to go on, but we know that it will be worth it in the end. And after actions, we know that we can go back to Momentum, reload our batteries, and breathe out.

Story provided by Momentum, Stockholm, Sweden

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My Path to Artistic Advocacy

My journey started when I was introduced to Ubunifu Hub by a friend through our youth group, “Hatua kwa Hatua”. Little did I know that it would become the guiding light for my journey. The passionate trainers at the hub opened my eyes to the critical issue of climate change advocacy, igniting a curiosity within me that I never knew existed.

As I delved into this new knowledge, I discovered a creative pathway that merged my passion for art with my newfound understanding of climate change. The resources available at the hub allowed me to evolve and enhance my artistic skills, propelling me to new heights of creativity and expression.

One of the pivotal moments in my journey was the opportunity to participate in the ‘I Hummingbird Effect’ campaign led by Tracy Makheti. I created a captivating puzzle art piece and an impactful painting. These works not only showcased my talent but also sparked positive conversations and dialogues on the pressing issue of climate change. Through the campaign, I gained the confidence to continue my journey as an artivist.

The impact of my art extended beyond local borders when I was given the opportunity to travel to Sweden for a youth exchange program. There, I not only gained invaluable knowledge but also shared my artistic gifts with fellow youth from other Planet One hubs, fostering growth in my career as a self-taught artist. Throughout this transformative journey, the team at Ubunifu Hub has been my unwavering support system, providing a nurturing space where creativity flourishes. Their guidance has not only shaped my artistic endeavors but has also empowered me to become a better advocate for change.

I want to express my deep gratitude to Ubunifu Hub for being my stepping stone to my purpose. Your dedication to teaching and advocacy has been instrumental in shaping my journey as an artistic SDG activist. Through your guidance, I have found my voice and passion for climate stories, and I have been able to network with like-minded individuals who have further impacted my life.

Denzel’s beautiful artworks

Your commitment to nurturing talent and giving support has inspired me to educate my community through edu murals that emphasize the importance of climate advocacy and mitigation. The skills and knowledge I have gained from you have empowered me to make a meaningful difference in the world around me.

Thank you for the profound impact you have had on my life. Your unwavering support, constructive feedback, and belief in my potential have helped me grow not only as an artist but as a person. Your mentorship has instilled in me a sense of confidence, creativity, and a lifelong love for learning.

Denzel’s beautiful artworks

I am truly grateful for the countless hours you have dedicated to teaching and guiding me. Your patience, kindness, and genuine care for your students have left an indelible mark on my heart. Thank you for being an exceptional teacher, a mentor, and a friend.

Today, I stand as a testament to the transformative power of art and advocacy, all thanks to the profound impact of patience, hope, and hard work.

Denzel Juma, Young Member, Ubunifu Hub, Nairobi, Kenya

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Finding Community and Empowerment: My Journey with Bolygó

I have always been interested in environmental issues, but I’ve never had a community where I could freely share my thoughts, connect with people, brainstorm ideas and projects, and participate in initiatives.

During Covid, my motivation hit an all-time low. I felt stuck, and I even stopped trying to discuss green issues with the people around me.

In the summer of 2023, I met Bolygó at a festival, and after that, I started participating in some events. What I love about Bolygó is that I found a community where I don’t feel alone, where I feel inspired to think about new ideas and projects. Before, I always felt that unless I’m an expert in something, I can’t raise my voice, have a debate, or act upon a certain topic. At Bolygó, I found a community that welcomes different points of view, provides space to share thoughts and accept our differences, and I feel really empowered by that.

I joined the Bolygó Club training program to gain deeper knowledge and also participated in the youth exchange program organized by Planet One in Stockholm, which was truly an out-of-this-world experience. I felt that everyone had so much trust in me on these programs, which encouraged me to believe in myself and believe that I can take action.

During the exchange program, I got to know a Hungarian FFF member, and she told me a lot about their operation and the projects they do. I became really interested and decided to join them to organize an exhibition at Bolygó about how cities are so disconnected from nature. Since then, I’ve been actively involved in planning and realizing the project. I also got to know Mesi during the exchange program, and we’re organizing an art therapy workshop for climate anxiety together at Bolygó in April.

Lili Szabó, active Bolygó member & attendee, Budapest, Hungary

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Lusine and Lia’s Journey to Inspire Environmental Change in Armenia

Lusine, aged 19, and Lia, aged 20, crossed paths last March at the Alternative Youth Center in Yerevan.

Lusine, passionate about nature and animals, sought out Alternative to share her voice with and contribute to meaningful climate and environmental work. 

Lia’s interest in environmental issues ignited three years ago when she encountered ISSD, a social business in Armenia dedicated to recycling and raising awareness about plastic waste. Inspired, Lia delved deeper into environmental education, eager to spread knowledge and inspire action among her peers.

Their meeting at the Alternative Youth Center was coincidental. Both shared a keen desire to engage and mobilize young people to prioritize planetary well-being. At Alternative, they found not just a platform to express themselves but also a supportive community of like-minded individuals.

From this shared passion, their initiative, Green Mind, was born. Through social media platforms like Instagram, Telegram, and Facebook, they disseminate information ranging from facts to films, all aimed at nurturing greener mindsets. Despite the challenges of motivating Armenian youth amidst regional conflicts and security concerns, Lusine and Lia remain steadfast in their commitment to environmental activism.

In addition to their online efforts, Lusine and Lia are launching a series of workshops in March 2024 across universities in Yerevan and community centers in Armavir. They’ll focus on critical issues like water pollution and preservation, the environmental impact of fast fashion, and animal agriculture. Their awareness of these interconnected issues was heightened during their membership training at Alternative, fueling their determination to educate others. One striking example is how animal farming affects the environment, along with the poor conditions in which the animals live. This knowledge has become essential for them to share with others.

Both Lusine and Lia were actively engaged in Alternative’s workshops and events, culminating in their participation in a youth exchange in Stockholm in December 2023. There, they found inspiration in meeting fellow activists and participating in their first climate march.

If Lusine and Lia’s journey resonates with you, consider joining a Planet One Makerspace in your city and becoming part of the climate movement! With makerspaces in six countries across Europe and Africa, Planet One offers a global community dedicated to environmental action.

Story provided by Alternative Youth Center, Yerevan

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Ubuntu Hub’s Influence on Global Youth Engagement

At the heart of Ubuntu Hub lies the spirit of “Sankofa,” a Ghanaian proverb urging us to never forget where we came from no matter the great heights we reach.

Late November 2023 marked a pivotal moment as Andile Mlambo, a dynamic youth lead at Planet One’s Ubuntu hub, received a golden ticket – an invitation to represent indigenous communities at the 28th United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP 28) in Dubai. Propelled by the Ubuntu hub’s ethos, Andile was chosen to represent indigenous communities and persons with disabilities at COP 28, thanks to Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, a civil society organization fostering discussions on marginalized groups in energy and climate change.

As the curtain closed on 2023, the ripple effect continued when the impact of Planet One’s Ubuntu project resonated not only with the youth leads but also with the broader youth community. In a remarkable turn of events, two key figures from the hub, Thapelo Ngobeni and Magile Khiza, seized the opportunity to travel to Stockholm, Sweden, for the Planet One Global Youth Exchange.

These opportunities serve as testaments to the transformative power of Planet One, creating avenues for young minds to learn, explore, and engage with the world. Andile reflects on the whirlwind of experiences, saying, “As a youth lead at Ubuntu hub, our calendar is brimming with bookings and projects. Thanks to established organizations like Earthlife Africa, we occasionally step into workshops, sharing our insights on critical climate issues.”

The alliance between Planet One’s Ubuntu hub and Earthlife Africa Johannesburg has cultivated a space where youth, women, and differently abled individuals converge to discuss the pressing challenges of climate change. These dialogues have become fertile grounds for exchanging perspectives on climate justice, food sovereignty, water, livelihoods, and the future of generations.

Andile’s journey from the Ubuntu hub to COP 28 was not merely a delegation; it was a privilege and an honor to be a change agent. “To attend COP 28 as a delegate of change was a special honor. My participation was enriched by the knowledge gained through being a youth lead at Ubuntu hub, attending intersectionality workshops, and engaging in weekly global meetings. These experiences have shaped my activism, allowing me to be a voice for South Africa’s indigenous communities, differently abled individuals, and an advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

Planet One’s Ubuntu hub stands as a beacon, empowering the youth to become catalysts for change, fostering global connections, and shaping a future where diverse voices harmonize for a sustainable and inclusive world.

Story provided by Ubuntu Hub, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Uniting for Empowerment: The 2023 Planet One Youth Exchange

In December 2023, young leaders and activists from Sweden, Hungary, Armenia, Cameroon, Kenya, and South Africa came together in Stockholm for an incredible opportunity – the Youth Exchange organized by Planet One. Over five days, this event sparked enthusiasm and inspired these next generation leaders to make positive strides in climate fairness.

The Youth Exchange kicked off with a burst of energy and excitement. Warm welcomes, icebreakers, and activities set the stage for connections to bloom. A tour of Fryshuset and an inspiring talk by the Fridays For Future team left everyone feeling fired up. The highlight? A vibrant session where we crafted banners for the upcoming Friday’s strike.

Day two was all about action. We joined the Fridays For Future strike, showing our dedication to climate action. Exploring Stockholm’s Old Town and visiting the Greenpeace Office added depth to our experience. The day concluded with a passionate debate, allowing each participant to voice their thoughts on the global fight for climate justice.

One participant summed it up perfectly, “It was an extremely positive day filled with community. The strike was one of the highlights for me: taking part in it was an interesting experience. Hopefully, it had a great impact and brought about some real changes!”

On day three, we immersed ourselves in nature at Hellasgarden. A sauna session and a dip in the lake grounded us and deepened our connection to the environment. In the afternoon, we had a workshop focusing on projects led by our youth, providing a platform for everyone to express and share their passion and creativity.

Reflecting on the day, one participant remarked, “Exploring another Swedish tradition was exciting, and venturing into nature provided a refreshing change. The workshop empowered me to initiate my own youth-led project.

Day four was about relaxation and creativity. Morning yoga set a positive tone,where we embraced moments of relaxation and introspection, while activities like baking vegan cookies and painting offered a chance to discover inner strength in response to climate challenges. The day concluded with a workshop centered around self-discovery through art, highlighting the importance of self-care and mindfulness while fostering deeper connection among participants. Another participant shared, “Today brought us closer together, especially through teamwork. Starting with yoga made it all feel right, and recording podcasts was a blast!”

The final day was bittersweet. It provided us an opportunity for reflective expression through various creative outlets. We engaged in crafting with a Christmas theme and crafting handmade guitars. The exchange concluded with a heartfelt goodbye dinner featuring African cuisine, marking the end of an incredible and transformative week together. Reflecting on the farewell, one participant expressed, “Today was emotional, especially the farewell dinner, which was a perfect culmination of great food, company, and shared memories. It was difficult to bid farewell to such wonderful people.”

The Stockholm Youth Exchange served as a powerful platform for fostering connections and inspiring a commitment to a greener future. We not only learned about different cultures but also forged lasting friendships and gained insights into diverse societies. Through teamwork and stepping out of comfort zones, each of us left with valuable lessons and renewed determination to effect positive change in our communities. 

“I used to think I had nothing significant to share, but this exchange showed me the importance of sharing knowledge with others. I’ve resolved to continue learning and sharing for the betterment of our communities.”

The friendships we made will continue to fuel the global movement for climate justice. As we part ways, we carry with us memories, lessons, and the inspiration to continue our journey toward a sustainable and equitable world.

During the youth exchange first episode of the “Unveiling Environmental Echoes” podcast has been recorded, an environmental talk among the passionate members of the Alternative Youth Center and the prominent leaders of the youth teams from Kenya and the Republic of South Africa.

Written by Danyil Nychka, the ESC volunteer from Ukraine at Fryshuset, Stockholm, Sweden

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My Ubuntu Hub Impact Experience 

Many individuals envision a space that would make them feel recognised and heard. Quite often these  kinds of spaces are within arm’s reach, however our youth do not know much about them let alone  know the kind of support or initiatives that are provided. For the past few months, Ubuntu Hub has  engaged with youth from various artistic and environmental backgrounds, offering a platform that  initiates creativity and encouragement. The Hub assists youth around Johannesburg with amplifying  their voices, their artistic gifts, and their environmental projects or ideas. 

Personally, Ubuntu Hub has provided me with amazing opportunities and skills within the  environmental and maker-space. These range from social media and climate justice workshops,  strengthening my environmental passion towards protecting the environment, learning how to fuse my  artistic talent with activism, as well as socializing with like-minded individuals and learning in-depth  about the importance of diversity.  

Growing up in a township, I have recognised that lack of environmental awareness is a huge issue that  still prevails in parts of South Africa, and only a few have information about places like Ubuntu Hub.  My journey has equipped me with the right knowledge thus far to educate and inspire other young  individuals sharing similar values and passions towards creating a greener future.  

The constant effort made by Ubuntu Hub to reach more youth across South Africa through Instagram  and Facebook, has encouraged youth, including myself, to voice out their gifts to a broader audience.  One of the aspects that I appreciate the most at the Hub is that regardless of the project, workshop or  activity hosted; you ultimately always leave the space with a different viewpoint and at the end of the  day your heart is inspired to do more for yourself and others.  

The thing is, we all come from different backgrounds, and we constantly search for a place that enables  us growth and sparks creativity. At the core of our search, we want to feel like we belong and feel a  sense of appreciation towards our crafts. The fact that I found these qualities in a space like Ubuntu  Hub, filled with enthusiasm and innovation, allows me the chance to express my talents and appreciate  that everyone’s journey can be supported. 

Story provided by Ubuntu Hub, Johannesburg, South Africa