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Lwando Nteya
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Should Your Birthplace Determine Your Future?

(0) Comments | Posted June 13, 2013 | 12:18 PM

As a young boy from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, the odds were against me. I probably should have ended up in a gang, selling drugs, or bound within the endless cycles of poverty that have enveloped the lives of so many in my community. Statistically, my birthplace was meant to determine my future. But it didn't. And, I believe, it shouldn't.

As a young boy, I remember sitting in my shack, confounded by the challenges of extreme poverty, yet hungry for knowledge and the promise of something more. But change seemed impossible to me and many around me. I believed that breaking free from the constraints of my birth place was a childish dream. That was until I met Jacob Lief who believed in my potential and invested in my ability to make a difference for myself and for my community.

With Jake's help, and through the support of the organization he founded Ubuntu Education Fund, I beat the odds and proved that township children don't have to be defined by the statistics.

In 2003, I was honored to become an Ubuntu Young Ambassador. With three other Ambassadors, I made the long journey to New York City. Arriving in New York, I was in awe of my surroundings. From the fast-paced environment to the skyscrapers and food, everything was so different. At least that's what I initially thought.

We headed to Harlem to meet with students our age. Over lunch, we compared our experiences, culture, and goals. What I realized is that despite our differences and the impact of our surroundings, we were very similar. We all wanted to break free from the challenges of our birthplace and create our own future. It was a powerful moment to realize this connection and our common determination to dream big. And dream big is exactly what I am doing. I dream of becoming a filmmaker, of seeing my work inspire change and promote South African stories. I dream of becoming a pilot and traveling the world to learn about other cultures. Because of Ubuntu, these are dreams I can now pursue and ones that are within reach.

Ubuntu Education Fund believed in me when others would not, and helped me gain the skills that I needed to succeed. Today, I am a graduate of The University of Cape Town with a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies and Environmental and Geographic Studies. The opportunities ahead of me are endless and I am excited for the future.

I am proud of where I come from and I am proud to say that your birthplace should NOT determine your future. And it doesn't have to. In a sea of "no"s, it took one "yes" and my entire life was changed.

I am a boy who beat the odds. I urge you to watch Ubuntu's new campaign video. For every view of this film, $1 will be donated by Zodiak Media to help Ubuntu transform the lives of 2,000 children in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Please watch and share to help us raise $100,000.

Together U.ME.WE can make a...

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