For Lillian Moremi, lifelong learning is not only a hobby but a practical skill that helped her thrive. By forging connections with others, she fosters networks that last a lifetime. Now the student has become the teacher, showing emerging youth leaders what to learn for their futures.
Raised in Mogoditshane, Botswana, Lillian flourished in her Setswana culture, learning from everyone in the community. Though content with her life, Lillian noticed her village lacked successful role models who had diverted from the traditional path of pregnancy and motherhood. Determined to avoid that path, Moremi strove to become through education the role model for youth that she herself wanted to see growing up.
While studying financial accounting at the University of Cape Town, she volunteered to help students network with potential employers and mentors for professional development and personal growth. She soon realized that youth in Botswana did not have the same opportunity, so she returned to her home country and founded the Botswana Student Network. Through this NGO, students enhance soft skills such as communication, presentation, and collaboration to find jobs or create their own employment after graduating.
After she learned how to work at a local level, her attention shifted to international. In 2016, she founded Career Coaching (Pty), where she partnered with local and international institutions to deliver youth employment services. She is a 2015 Mandela Washington Fellow and attended the EducationUSA Leadership Institute on Campus Internationalization at Saint Louis University. She also successfully collaborated with six other organizations to host the first-ever Botswana Youth Jobs Fair. “The fair was a great success, seeing over 1,200 youth coming together for employability training and networking with potential employers. For some youth, it was the first time to attend an event where they could meet and talk to potential employers on the expectations of the workplace and how to apply for a job,” Lillian says.
However, her successes did not come easily. Funding continues to challenge her enterprises, and often she finds herself using her own time, skills, and money to keep her organizations afloat. She quickly realized that this was unsustainable, and now reaches out to the private sector for additional aid. She also frequented YALI online courses, where she improved her knowledge on leadership, entrepreneurship, and workplace success. She even uses the online courses in her training sessions to lead youth in their own learning career and community enrichment.
“Youth development work is about impacting lives for a better future. … Identify a challenge in your area and see how best you can help. If you are not sure about how to go about it, the YALI Network is loaded with amazing youth leaders across the continent that one can always reach out to for help and guidance,” she advises. “Your voice is important. Use it!”
Lillian’s ultimate goal is to see young people contributing to the development of the continent and making the world a better place. “One of my favourite quotes is by Nelson Mandela, where he said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ Learning should never stop. Young people should continue to lead their own learning from the people they meet, the events they go to, and the books they read. Education is not necessarily at school or in the classroom, but it is all around us. This type of self-empowerment is the best way to help ourselves find opportunities of growth and work. As youth, we should never give up on our dreams no matter how hard things may be. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s remain patient and keep our eyes on the ball.”
Are you interested in learning how you can be a mentor to youth? Visit our YALI4Youth page for more tools and resources.
The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author or interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of the YALI Network or the U.S. government.