Whoever said that “youth is wasted on the young” had obviously never met Tshibanda Gracia Ngoy.
The Congolese-born Australian has a real passion for serving her community and a portfolio to prove it. The 20 year-old has an impressive list of leadership, volunteer and citizenship prizes to her name, and ended last year with one more.
The Young People’s Human Rights Medal is given to Australians under the age of 25 who have made an outstanding contribution to advancing human rights. Tshibanda beat-out a list of impressive finalists around the country to receive the 2011 honour.
When tribal and political conflict forced the Ngoy family to flee their province of Katanga they stayed in South Africa for three years before arriving in Australia under the humanitarian visas program.
It was then that Tshibanda decided to devote herself to helping refugee youth. She’s currently a caseworker for refugee families, a radio co-host, English tutor, mentor, member and contributor to a number of community networks and has developed and run workshops based on self-esteem and identity, focusing on helping migrant youth settle into life down under.
I asked Tshibanda what motivates her to do what she does, and what her plans are for the future…
Since I was a child I have always aspired to inspire and to help others around me in whatever way I could. As much as I am passionate to help refugee youth, I am also passionate to see young people of my generation from any background excel to the best of their ability and become effective and better leaders of tomorrow.
As for refugees coming to Australia, I have had the opportunity to work with them and see many struggling and finding it difficult to integrate and become part of the community. So I do my best to help them based on my own experience and how I overcame many challenges.
“I hope to be a leader who will be a voice for the voiceless. I cannot solve all problems, but I am keen to be part of the solution.”
You’re currently studying a double-degree in media, commerce and international communications and HR management. Your combined bachelors degree seems to touch on so many areas. What are your ambitions?
My main ambition is to work with the United Nations in one way or another. I see many people losing their lives around the world because of corrupt leadership; I hope to be a leader who will be a voice for the voiceless. I cannot solve all problems, but I am keen to be part of the solution.
I am also writing a book which I hope to self publish early this year aiming to empower young people. I have written it based on my own experience and in my own words hoping that many young people can gain something out of it and become better and effective leaders.
Not everyone, especially young people, feel like they have the ability to make a real difference. What would be your message to them?
Young people need to learn how to believe in themselves and most importantly not to underestimate their contributions. We are living in a society where many young people are dis-empowered and they struggle with their identity due to many reasons. That restricts them from reaching what they are capable of achieving.
I would encourage all young people to do their best in improving their community in whatever way they can because no one has the power to change the whole world, but the very little they can manage to do can have a great impact.
Photos of Tshibanda by ©Dan Mayers firstname.lastname@example.org
Like to know more?
Read about the Young People’s Human Rights Medal.