Olona Mvoko
Excelsior Secondary School, Mthatha, Eastern Cape

I would say one of my highlights is being in that plane from Joburg to Hong Kong until I reached Vancouver, where I got the chance to experience and explore different types of food. Being on that plane for 24 hours made me have mixed emotions really. Experiencing the winds increase, and the plane decreasing and increasing altitude … I had fear and happiness, afraid about what might happen and excited at the same of being in such a plane and looking forward to where I was going and what was going to be done.

My other greatest highlight is being in that Plenary where I was exposed to different views of the young people and the different problems faced by the youth and women all over the world, and actually getting a chance to be amongst the people and listen on how they will bring change to the world.  What stood out for me is seeing that the youth leaders are mostly girls and the girl that was 16 years but could speak in front of many people fearlessly.

The trip was one of the greatest highlights in my life.  It was an opportunity of a lifetime and I got to understand and learn different things. To be on an all-expenses paid trip and actually meeting people who I can say contribute a lot to the change occurring in the world like Dr Precious and Melinda Gates, whom I can say are pioneers in the world.

The trip was exciting. Yes, we had stressful moments where we had to rush to check in for the next flight. That was tiring, but when we reached, everything went back to normal. We were welcomed by Josh, who was the driver of the cab and the Hotel stuff were also friendly.

Though I was jetlagged at first, I managed and was slowly adjusting to temperature and all other stuff including the food which was totally different from ours, but I survived.  And one other thing is discovering that their sun sets at 9pm so we roamed around and would even forget it’s late.

Discovering a lot of other things and actually learning a lot from the other team members, their personalities, their opinions and how they see the world was inspiring.

On the trip I learnt to stand for what I believe in, be involved in social movements and if I want change, I should break the barriers and demand the change that I want.

Being an activist is not all about being in an office, but it is being exposed to both worlds and knowing what a true activist should do. Also, as an individual, I should speak up online, in the streets and everywhere in between against injustice.

So, with the knowledge I’ve gained I will lift girls who are oppressed, be their support system, be their voice and actually motivate men and women to challenge gender norms in their content and also be involved in the fight against inequality.

To donate time to women focused NGO’s and actually try to learn and assist in every way they can because change doesn’t occur quickly but overtime. Maybe I, one day could even start an organisation of my own which will focus on lifting body shamed girls because nowadays that is what is breaking my fellow sisters’ souls, because of the judgement by the society.