My name is Vuyiswa “Vu” Mashengele and I am one of the co-founders of the non-profit organization called You Have It In You Foundation (YHIIU). I was born and raised in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and then moved to Canada in 2001 where I currently reside. I work as a Human Resources professional as well as run YHIIU. You Have It In You Foundation is a calling in my life to give back to others what I received as a young child growing up in Zimbabwe – the gift of an education. I lost my mother at age 13 and my uncle took on the responsibility of assisting my dad to raise and educate my sister and I. As I grew up I never forgot his generosity as he was one of the people who made me believe I could achieve whatever I wanted and made me realise that “I had it in me” to become more than a statistic. I vowed that I would “pay-it-forward” to someone else and I believe YHIIU allows me to do that.
An Avenue for the Vulnerable
You Have It In You Foundation was founded in February 2014 by Lorraine Bere, Thuli Mazwi and myself. We cater to the overall well-being (physical, spiritual and emotional) of children, youth and women .The foundation was formed as an avenue to provide vulnerable children, youth and women with an opportunity to obtain an education, generate income through viable sustainable projects and employ their God-give skills to add value to their communities.
I took 18 months off work, returned to Zimbabwe to set up the community centre. This was one of the most fulfilling and challenging time of our lives. We both had to leave our comfort zones to go start something we had never done before
We currently run three major causes:
- Educational sponsorships – currently assisting 10 children through school. Our first pair of students will finish high school in 2018. We are so excited about that.
- Leadership Development Program – we send students who are in their last year of high school through a leadership development camp in preparation for post-secondary school and life after school.
- Community Centre – we run a community centre in Mpopoma, Bulawayo that is a one-stop shop where girls get an opportunity to interact with each other, develop their skills by using the community centre library, computer learning facility and vocation training centre amongst other things. To date we have had over 240 girls register with us.
Being a part of this organization has been one of my greatest joys and accomplishments although it is not always smooth sailing. In January 2015 my friend Lorraine and I took 18 months off work, returned to Zimbabwe to set up the community centre. This was one of the most fulfilling and challenging time of our lives. We both had to leave our comfort zones to go start something we had never done before and boy were we in for an awakening.
One always thinks when you are going to do a “nice” thing that everyone will catch on to the vision and it is welcomed with open arms. Well, not all the time and it sure was not the case for us. We faced a lot of skeptical people about our motive as we were coming from the diaspora and had some challenges with learning and adapting to the business culture and norms.
When I was 17
I left Zimbabwe when I was 17 and had not started working yet, so work was foreign to me.” We spent the first 6 months in Zimbabwe with no traction at all. It seemed as if we were just spinning our wheels and that was frustrating. We wanted to give up and return to Canada but our vision was bigger than what was happening. Our faith kept us going and we were more than sure this is what God had sent us to do in Zimbabwe and we were not returning before accomplishing that goal. With prayer, persistence and patience, we finally got our building and started the set-up; we’ve not looked back since. The community centre has been running now for almost two (2) years and we are starting to see the pay offs.
Why are you doing this for people you do not know?
There is lots that still needs to be done and we are taking it one day at a time. I am frequently asked the questions “Why are you doing this for people you do not know?” and my answer is simple. Purpose. I believe this is one of the things I was born to do and I have the responsibility to give back in my community and will always do that in one way or another. I pray that I may be able to ignite hope in each of the people’s lives I touch. I want them to know someone cares and to believe that regardless of what life throws their way “They Have It In Them” to be the best them they can be because they were created for a purpose. I also encourage every person out there to do a little bit to pay it forward. Helping someone doesn’t always equate to finances; mentor and encourage that little girl or boy, give your time to someone else and you will be surprised how far that goes.
To read more about please visit our website www.youhaveitinyou.org or for regular updates about what is going on with us, like our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/YHIIUFoundation.