Thabiso Titus Paul is a 25-year-old, UB graduate in political science and economics, who coaches debate teams and is a recognized community leader in his home village of Machaneng, located in the eastern part of Mahalapye Sub District, near the South African border. His interest in community building was initially nurtured when he borrowed the newspapers from his aunt to follow and analyze news from around the world. Through his studies and involvement in youth programs, Thabiso noticed how many youth are the victims of bullying and gender based violence (GBV), while confronting pressure from peers to have sex and abuse alcohol.
In response, he joined a coalition in Machaneng that created the first-of-its-kind community GBV protocol which describes how to handle cases and client referrals among the local service providers. He says proverbs like mokoduwa go tsoswa yo o itsosang (“help goes to those who help themselves first”) led him to establish the Machaneng Achiever’s Association, which encourages young people to give back to their communities. He also co-founded LEHIKA to provide training in financial literacy, good governance, and integrated community development planning. Through these organizations, Thabiso continues to inspire youth to take hold of opportunities to become leaders today and not wait for the future.