Beltz’s Bid to Empower Communities
28 October 2013 at 10:14 am
Since coming to Australia, Zambian-born Nkandu Beltz has immersed herself in projects aimed at empowering communities across the country. Beltz is this week’s Changemaker.
Beltz, a former journalist, founded Youth Empowerment Programme Australia last year, a Not for Profit youth initiative which aims to empower, inspire and engage youth with positive activities.
However her community involvement in Australia extends further to work including: running the Kununurra Youth Development programme; work with Save the Children Australia on a Sexual Health Project with youth in the Kimberley, Western Australia; being the “area representative” for Rural Medical Family Network WA; and delivering the “LOVEBITES” program with Kinway through the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, among other roles.
She also founded Nkandu’s Cultural Nights which raises funds for less privileged children and women across the globe.
Beltz says her journey advocating for girl child rights started at 10 years old and was a peer educator and youth advocate in high school, counselling fellow students in matters that relate to sexual health and HIV/AIDS.
She was also an Executive Member of the United Nations Association of Australia working closely on the “Eight Millennium Development Goals” and supporting the work of the United Nations on a ground level.
In 2011, she had the privilege of representing Australia at the Commonwealth Youth Forum in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and presented the communiqué to the Foreign Ministers’ Meetings and to foreign dignitaries.
She was also a Foundation for Young Australian's Young Social Pioneer for 2012-2013.
What are you currently working on in your organisation?
I’m working on a new initiative focusing on financial literacy for young people from 8 years of age through to 18.
Jack Delosa from The Entourage and I have joined forces to set up “The Entourage Foundation”, which will be a Not for Profit organisation aiming to empower young people by up skilling them to become effective leaders in all aspects of life. Our vision is to be the most successful educational program in Australia to empower youth to be social change-makers within their communities.
Next year, we will engage with 500 schools across Australia in 2014 with the help of Foundation for Young Australians.
The target markets are youth from eight to 18-year-olds. We work with all young people regardless of their social, cultural or educational background.
Our focus for next year is 20up which is the Australian version of the Tenner Project in UK.
This initiative aims to teach financial literacy to our young people and making a difference in their communities.
School will apply for funds from “The Entourage Foundation” and each student will be allocated $20 to set up a social venture. Students have 30 days to make as much profit as they can. All funds raised can either be kept by the student or donated to a social cause.
What drew you to the Not for Profit sector?
I grew up with the concept of “Ubuntu” describing the philosophy of “I am who I am because of those around me” a positive aspect of sense of community. So it was natural for me to continue what I have been doing since I was 10 years of age.
How long have you been working in the Not for Profit sector?
For over 10 years now.
What was your first job in the Not for Profit sector?
That was with the Botswana National Youth Council as a peer educator.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Knowing that I’m making a difference in my community, be it here in Australia or overseas.
What has been the most challenging part of your work? Living in a rural area. The distance makes it really hard as most of the training and access to funding bodies are in the city areas. Funding my project in Kununurra and Horsham has been a major challenge as well. And how do you overcome that? By being patient, persistent and creative. I have managed to create new networks through FYA as a Young Social Pioneer and I won this year’s Creative Innovation Scholarship which has given me a platform to pitch my idea to philanthropists.
Favourite saying … “many people are talented, yet a few distinguish themselves. The ability to rise above lies more in effort than talent”.
I’m always being asked … Why did you come to Australia and why do you do this work here, and not Africa? My answer is always the same. If I was still in Netherlands, I will be doing what I’m doing. If I was in Zambia or Botswana I would be doing the same thing. I do what I do because I love it and I want to make a difference wherever I live.
What are you reading/watching/listening to at the moment?
I’m reading “The God argument”. I’ve just passed chapter one. It’s a great read and I love being challenged intellectually and I was brought up in a Christian environment and never questioned the truth of religion.
Through your work, what is your ultimate dream?
To have set an example and a firm foundation for future generations especially those of migrant backgrounds.
School taught me … to fall in love with books, and that as a responsible member of my community people will always have something to say about me. So stay focused despite what is being said or written about me.
What (or who) inspires you?
I have a few people who inspire me: First is Jan Owen, she is compassionate, always calm and has been a great game changer. Nelson Mandela (Madiba) his sacrifice and willingness to forgive and rebuild the country to unite the people is phenomenal. My grandfather Paul Mwale, his honesty, hard work and ethics.