By: Maureen NambuyeMalaba

Over the years YMCA has played a great role in the community fulfilling part of the  mission to empower young people and the communities. When telling the YMCA story, one can generally say it has impacted positively on the lives of the young people and the society in a unique and creative way. We know YMCA as a world-wide Christian, Ecumenical, Voluntary movement for women and men with special emphasis on the genuine involvement of the young people. Tawanda Mukoma, age 24, is one of the many young people whose life has been greatly changed through the YMCA involvement in Bulawayo Zimbambwe.

He was raised in Cowdray Park, one of the suburbs in the city of Bulawayo. For the greater part of his life he has been living with his grandparents in another suburb ‘Matshobana’after having lost the dad at the age of 8 and the mother working in South Africa. As a young person in Zimbambwe life has never been a bed of roses but he says that working hard and his determination is what has made him what he is today.

Tawanda is currently an administration secretary at Bambelela Arts Ensemble a theatre organisation that facilitates community development through theatre. He finds great pleasure in working with the young people and serving the community at large; he is self-motivated and believes so much in giving his time for a good cause – that is through volunteering and educating other young people.  

He joined YMCA in the year 2014, he came to know YMCA through the transformative masculinity program, and he went through the facilitators training as a gender change catalyst. The program was a huge opportunity for Tawanda as it cultivated traits like commitment and accountability; he is now able to desist from promoting both masculine and feminine ideologies as the both sexes are the same. He’s been actively involved in the other YMCA running programs such as the Quiz competitions for the youths out of school and recreational activities which also enabled him to interact and meet many young people from different backgrounds.  Tawanda describes YMCA as a safe place for any young individual who is ready to learn and desire change; to him it has been a platform where he is able to get information about important issues of life. YMCA has also given him a chance to air out his opinions and to be accepted.

Tawanda hopes in the growth of YMCA and to be well known in all the towns in Bulawayo, so that other youths can also get to know the value of YMCA’s work.Just as YMCA,Hhe also believes we all need to take responsibility and contribute to a better community. He says: “Someone once told me that if you are willing to do today what others are not willing to do, you will do tomorrow what they cannot do. Meaning; if young people are willing to initiate change amongst themselves, then no one can stop them. But if theyare not willing to change, theycannot bring about change later when theyare older, and time had gone past their age.”