The days I shall never forget, they were filled with pain, shame, and lack. My hopes almost gone, but just when it looked like the world was closing in on me, I saw a glimmer of light, reminding me that I was born for a purpose and so in determination I arose to fight for that purpose, to fight for my freedom, and like I had envisaged, I broke the tiny limbs of the old monster; deprivation.
It sought to muffle my voice and snuff out my little light but I persisted in hope, I gained the mastery and emerged a winner, now I look ahead in fulfillment, my future is bright and my lost hopes are here again. But then I noticed the tiny versions of the ugly monster coming after my little brethren, now I rise again and ready to fight; if I could win my battle, I will help them win theirs and Tanzania and indeed Africa will be saved forever.
The musings of David Mwendele ……………
Born in Morogoro region in Tanzania into extreme poverty by a teenage mother who suffered immeasurable rejection in the hands of her people, she had been thrown out of the house by her parents who didn’t want to be associated with their daughter’s unwanted pregnancy; David grew up with the feeling many young people in his community struggled with; the feeling of being unwanted and uncared for.
Well, in his case it was more than a feeling, it was the reality the little boy was born into. At age six, his mother disappeared in a manner his young mind could not retain, leaving him to confront his battles alone.
You know like Mother Theresa once said, “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty.”
In his plight, the poor boy was forced to move in with his uncle, a farmer who eventually sent him to Dar es Salaam where he lived with a poor woman who became a mother figure to him.
In Dar es Salaam life didn’t prove a good friend to David, he and his foster mother lived in abject poverty, struggling to get by each day.
After his primary education, David took a job at a counter book factory, in a bid to support his family and also raise some money to pursue a secondary education. A year later, he found that his effort wasn’t yielding enough dividend, his family could hardly eat a day’s meal. At that point his dream of going to secondary school seemed bleak, he had done almost everything his little mind could fathom.
But then there was still an option left, it sure looked like his only hope at the time, but taking it would mean leaving his family and going after his dream while staying back with his family meant perpetual penury.
David took the challenge and joined Hananasif orphanage and in the same year, he gained admission into Hocet orphanage secondary school located at Mkuranga, Coast Region in Tanzania.
For him, that was a rebirth of a battered dream and the launch into mighty possibilities. At Hocet, the teenager was armed with great knowledge and introduced to fellow young people with similar stories and triumphs.
In 2010 David returned home equipped with his goldmine, a quality education. A treasure only a few young people in his community could boast of at the time. He also discovered that most young people in his community were languishing in ignorance and juvenile delinquencies as they didn’t have the privilege to enjoy the kind of exposure he had.
“I was very frustrated seeing fellow youth who were not lucky enough to get an education suffering. I was in that situation before I was taken in by the orphanage and offered education. I really wanted to do something to support my community,” he says.
The need to give back to his community and save his fellow young people who were heading for destruction propelled the young change maker to start a charity he called Let God Be You Foundation (LGBY) to provide quality education and life skills to youth aged 14-18. The organisation teaches young people computer literacy, English language proficiency and entrepreneurship.
He started out by securing a loan from a friend, with which he began training youths on how to make hard cover exercise books, a skill he learned after working long hours at a factory in his teens. But the going was never easy for him.
“After a very short run it became very difficult to fund my project. I decided to start a business that would help raise funds for the charity,” he says. “I started a printing business in Dar es Salaam. I taught four of my students how to do printing and how to make hard cover exercise books. We would go to churches, mosques and other places where large numbers of people frequent to sell the school books.”
In 2012 David Mwendele was named an Anzisha Prize finalist and was a awarded a cash prize of US$2,000 with which he diversified his organisation’s interest to include an internet café and LGBY Media, a company that specialises in video and TV production, graphics design, photography and making documentaries. He also purchased equipment for the internet café, which offers training to local youth and services such as printing and photocopying.
Since starting LGBY foundation, the serial entrepreneur has trained more than 140 youths and set them on the right course. The foundation which started its operations in a church has since moved to larger space and has taught numerous young people the use of computer, embroidery, T-shirt printing, baking and photography skills etc.
“Some of the youth we have trained have started their own businesses and others have gained employment or gone back to school to further their studies,” he recounts.
His drive is clear…..
“I was raised in a poor family, I lived on the street begging for money and I was later taken to school by strangers who gave me food and other basic needs. That had a profound effect on my life and how I view things. I really want to do business. I want to succeed in life, but I want to make sure I use my money, my time and my skills to serve my community.”
To the young ones this genius states unequivocally; “Don’t focus on money. Focus on the idea you have and use the resources within your community whether it is from parents, siblings or neighbours,” he says. “When you are young and you do great stuff people are more likely to acknowledge your efforts and offer you support.”
We often lament about our woes and challenges, the ineptitude of our government and the carelessness of our parents when we compare our lives with those of the people we assume are better off. But then we forget how powerful we are and that we were created to be the change we seek.