by Thato Mokhothu-Ramohlanka
Recently I had the privilege of attending a workshop where I delivered a talk to a group of young learners about career development. This is a topic that is very close to my heart because many people are forced into unwanted careers for many reasons. The bottom line is that there is an enormous need for career guidance in underprivileged schools. This is specifically because advanced institutions have career coaches and counselors to assist learners in aligning their future goals and aspirations with their talents and capabilities from the early stages of their schooling.
Over and above the in-house counselors, there is often a good supply of reading material that disadvantages those learners who do not have access to these resources. While it is common knowledge that the playing fields are never equal in our society, the real question of how to remedy this discrepancy remains. Perhaps the answer lies in economics as a discipline, which I am not qualified to adequately scrutinize, but either way the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ continues to widen.
This is the reality I was faced with head-on when one of the ladies in my audience rightfully questioned me on some of the points that I had made in my presentation. Motivational speaking can become redundant where the tendency is for speakers to over exert themselves onto the audience without engaging enough to appreciate the challenges that are unique that specific group. So when one of the members of the audience expressed the extent of their struggles on a daily basis I was taken aback. My responses were generic at first because I had to maintain a positive outlook. I told her that in order to succeed one has to continue to push through the obstacles and refuse to give up.
It only dawned on me later as I reflected on her questions and the workshop in general just how much distress this young lady was going through. Despite all her efforts to explain the extent of her struggles I wasn’t receptive enough to what she was really saying. This reminded me that while we are all going through challenges in life, some challenges are greater than others. Some challenges become barriers for certain individuals to reach the playing field. Imagine how hard it is to struggle to get food, transport and resources for data to search for jobs or reach interview destinations.
The significance of our role as entrepreneurs was further highlighted with this particular experience. Because I realized that if everything we do is not meant to empower and uplift the millions of men and women who are economically disenfranchised due to inherited poverty that has plagued this continent for centuries, then what’s the point?
Thato Mokhothu-Ramohlanka is the founding director of MR Consulting which offers legal and management consulting services to SMMEs. She graduated with degrees in Psychology, Sociology, Marketing Management and Law from the University of Cape Town and the National University of Lesotho. Thato is a member of the Global Shapers (Maseru Hub), a global non profit organization founded by the world economic forum that seeks to uplift the youth through various educational projects. She is passionate about young people and uses her writing to uplift and motivate them through their various challenges.
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