What Community Engagement Has Taught Me

By Wezizwe Ginindza

Most of the things that we read and do nowadays have to do with how we can make ourselves better. Our societies have developed so many self-help industries that make us focus on our own journeys and success. Therefore, we develop a ‘me’ mentality and not an ‘us’ kind of mentality. This has made us less fulfilled as people even though we have achieved much. The key to being fulfilled in life is through serving others because by doing that we realize that we are not as different as we believe ourselves to be.

Photo by Mike Erskine

Community engagement has always been a part of my life and it has helped me realize how much of an impact serving others has on those around us, and you begin to appreciate your surroundings. So, my secret to being fulfilled was simple: I found something I truly love to do and then I directed all of my energy towards doing it. Once I started concentrating my mental power and energy on serving others, abundance flowed into my life and all my desires were fulfilled with ease and grace.

Photo by Etty Fidele

I was willing to stretch myself as wide as I could to accommodate the change that I wanted in my life, which was becoming a community engagement leader. This grew from being a passion to a lifestyle, and I began to understand my strengths and weaknesses; I experienced failure and disappointment and the true meaning of giving your time and talent. I stopped being a teacher, and I became the learner.

Photo by Doug Linstedt

So, I began to find my own voice, my own rhythm, and discovering what it feels like to walk in my shoes today as a young black woman. I chose every day to live a life that is infectious, one that touches and changes someone’s dream into a reality. I want to leave a fingerprint, one that says, “you can!” despite your age, gender, background, weaknesses and imperfections. It is important to understand that it is through each and every person’s imperfection and weakness that we are the people we are today. We had to make mistakes and allow ourselves to be redirected by someone.

Community engagement is often viewed as charity, when in actual fact it is a mutually beneficial relationship that is developed through engaging with other people. My journey started off as a primary school English tutor and later on became a representative, mentor and tutor in a youth project in Grahamstown called Ikamva Youth, designed to empower and cultivate young men and women as they navigate their way through high school.

Photo by Eye for Ebony

I believe that changing the way that young men and women see themselves is very important because they can then change other people’s lives. Hence, I am willing to be consistent, embracing what worked and didn’t work for me. Leaving your footprint in someone else’s life may just be the only way your legacy is remembered. You live a fulfilled life when you have changed, touched and inspired people’s lives.

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