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Meet The Young Tanzanian Activist Giving Hope To African Children And Youths Through “YES I CAN’ Campaign

Hello Africa!

Its a beautiful day!And you’re welcome to Temmy Balogun’s blog, a platform where we celebrate people doing amazing things.

Sharing with us an exciting experience today, is a young beautiful and hardworking Tanzanian lady who is presently doing what i call ‘priceless’ as it amazes me so much.

As a young lady, Elder Philbert  has so much interest in caring for others, she is an African children and youths Activist who advocates for the less priveleged  to be given the opportunity to enjoy basic amenities they deserve.

Elder Philbert

To strengthen her cause, Elder launched a ‘YES I CAN’ campaign with the mission to motivate Tanzanians children and youths to be whosoever they wish  to be. She is presently sourcing for funds to get helpless children school uniforms,shoes and books

This is a very interesting and inspiring interview;I want many to read this hence, i posted it on a weekend, so relax,take a chill pill and read along…

Good to have you here Elder Philbert, lets start with a brief biography; tell us about your education, family, personality and ethnicity….

My name is Elder Philbert. A christian Tanzanian and a workaholic to the core. I love addressing myself like this because  I have never really taken a day off since I started this journey, which i call the “working hard journey”,(smiles).

I believe hardwork and focus are very important in achieving set goals, so I live each day of my life as a gift and opportunity to work more and harder than yesterday.

I am 22, the second born and only girl in a family of four. I have an elder brother and two younger brothers. I just finished my studies on Information and Communication Technology in Mzumbe University last year.

Elder Philbert
Elder Philbert

You love advocating for African children and youths, what inspired this passion of yours?

I was born and raised in Africa. It was common to me as a young girl to listen to  news about problems and challenges facing  Africa, my home. Poverty, hunger,political instabilities, just to mention but a few.

It was very clear to me that I was born in a weak and inferior part of the world. But I wanted to be different. I want Africa to come up and  be different. I read alot about  great people who brought change in Africa and i really want to be among them.

When I was much younger I loved working with communities,so during my school holidays I volunteered to work for  local community organizations whereby I visited families in villages, talked to children and learnt a lot.

It was sad finding out about kids mostly in villages who spend their days in fields, looking after cattle,fetching water, or collecting firewood. You see, challenges in Africa have big roots from our mindsets, beliefs,ethics, education system and how we are raised.

I look forward to the day when instead of heaping firewood, buckets and heavy loads on our children’s heads, Africans will focus on planting big ideas, inspiring creativity, and nurturing curiosity.

On a lighter note, have you ever thought that the meaning of your name ‘Elder’ played out in your strong passion to support children and youths?

Five years ago I asked my mom, “Why did you call me Elder?” I only asked because of the pressure I was facing out there about my name and why this name! “Elder means a born leader. I wanted you to be at the top always”, she said. It was until then I realized my name has played a big role in who I am and what I do.

Since my first grade I have served as class monitress,prefect, head girl, choir leader and many other leadership position. Its like a destiny I can’t escape! Something that was kept in me by God since childhood. He called me to serve. I love using the term ” serving” than “leading” (Smiles).

It is really strange but on realizing it I can say; “names reflect a lot on who the owner will be and maybe these names are from God himself”.

Yes I Can Campaign
Yes I Can Campaign

Back to the bone of contention…What inspired your ‘YES I CAN’ campaign ?

Questions like; how often do we dream or aspire? What do we dream of? Pops up on my mind and I have found out that it is only in our young ages that we dream so much. As shoots of trees, as a promise for the future of this tree a lot of confidence and “Dare” is in us in our young ages. That’s why I have chosen to advocate with the young generation; the  youth and children.

Again i ask myself; why do people struggle to act upon their dreams? As young kids we all dream of becoming a lot and doing great things, but as we grow up we limit ourselves and give up on our dreams. The fear of failure and insecurities causee by poverty hold us back.

Through “Yes I can” I want to impact a lot of young dreamers to believe in their dreams and help those who can’t get opportunities in Africa, mostly my country Tanzania.

I believe that the God I serve has chosen me to break the generational curses of poverty and lack of education in my community. He had been moulding me for this since childhood. When I saw “Barack Obama” winning as the first black American president of the U.S.A. I told myself, “We can” ,”I Can”. “Yes I Can”.

Bravo….What is the mission and vision  of your campaign?

The Mission of “Yes I Can” is to innovate young people towards activeness, self esteem, positive thinking and leadership responsibility.
Our Vision is  to eradicate poverty, bringing about positive change in our environment and our lives in general.

Honestly I am still not very clear how we can achieve this great milestone, but each day I do something small knowing it is pulling us closer to the goal. We can’t change the whole world but it is possible to change a part of it. (Smiles)

Elder Philbert speaking at a youth development conference

How is this campaign carried out?

Through “Yes I can” I have started a few school clubs in high schools and still in processes of starting more. These clubs inspire youth to meet up during weekends and free time. Hold debates on Africa’s challenges and how to solve them, Show off their talents like singing, arts and any creativity or simply doing a simple charity activity to their local communities.

Through “Yes I can” we discover young dreamers and children with abilities living in poor families or just homeless. Spread their story, reach out for them and fundraise to offer something for their come up.

Do your parents support your passion of being an activist?

When I was in high school my parents did not support me completely because they didn’t understand what I had in mind. After a long while on the journey, I got to the university and started doing some visible projects which  convinced them. Then I started getting support from my mom. My dad was always against me saying that I waste a lot of time on “Yes I can” .

My focus and determination built the trust through time and today my parents are among my biggest supporters in whatever I do.

Elder and some youths
Elder and some youths

How does being an activist make you feel?

Being an activist makes me feel so good but yet it makes me feel so much indebted.

Every morning when I wake up thoughts like; I owe youth and children of Tanzania something, I owe my community something today,what should I do today? crosses my mind.

I feel like a mirror but also responsible. I can’t call this a burden though,  because being an activist is also building me everyday to become a better version of myself.

What challenges have you faced so far on this journey ?

The most and biggest challenge I face is lack of enough funds. When I started this journey I never thought it will be this hard.

Sometimes I am forced to use my savings after exhausting the funds set aside for this cause,  to run meetings or travel to visit kids in very far villages that sometimes i become financially  drained. I see a lot of big dreams and abilities in young people wherever I go. But funds to support their ideas is still a big problem.

How did you combine schooling and your dream as an activitist?

Running “Yes I can” in school was hard. My schedule was tight and time has never been enough. Its always easier when I am on break or out of school.

I will go for further studies later on this year but this time I have built a stronger foundation and made a good team to work with. I believe this time it will be a little easier and however hard it might turn out to be, I’m ready to walk through it still.


Do you have a team who share the vision of this campaign with you?

I had a kick off in Kagera region in Tanzania last year and made a very strong team. I have a secretary, A treasurer, a talent manager and project director and more than 10 other members. My team is my big advisand they support me a lot.

What milestones has ‘YES I CAN’ reached so far?

Through Yes I can more than 40 young boys and girls have gained back hope to stand on their dreams and come out as best students in school. We have active school clubs in more than 3 high schools. In 2014 we emerged in the finalist top two in community service awards awarded by the Hall of fame Tanzania. And today we are fundraising to get uniform, shoes and books for more other homeless kids. To me, these are very great achievements and more are still to come.

Yes I Can giving them hope for a brighter future

Yes they are! This is a new year, what are you main set goals for the year? What challenges do you foresee in carrying out these goals?

This year my big focus is “Education”, with a statement. “Education is the only way we can fight poverty.” I will do whatever it takes this 2017 to make sure that no child is left behind because they can’t afford shoes or books. We will reach out for these souls and through education we will push these dreamers one step to their goal.

Apart from being an activitist, what else do you see yourself doing in future?

Apart from being an activist i love writing, blogging and working with computer systems.

Sometimes I work part time in offices and organizations as system administrator, enumerator and data organizer, which are part of what I studied. In writing,  I see myself as an author of motivation books in the future. I am already working on my first book which will be titled “Yes I can”. Covering almost everything i have learnt in my journey.

Do think there would be anytime you won’t be able to cope well with this campaign? If such situation comes up how do you intend to balance it up?

Well its a question many have asked me,about the sustainability of the campaign. You see that is why I empower young people. That is why I share everything in my mind with my team, because tomorrow when I am away or if that happens, the campaign will go on.. The roots will continue growing deeper and deeper through those who have gained from this campaign.

What achievements do you see your campaign having within the next 5 years?

Within the next five years I see “Yes I can” impacting not only youth in Tanzania, but Africa at large. I see big Youth conferences conducted by Yes I can and with great impact to the community. I see the “yes I can” fund growing and supporting a lot of orphan and homeless kids to getting education.

All in All I see Yes I can as a big body to Africa in transforming young people for a positive change. Well my mom laughs when I talk of this and she says..”you are really dreaming”. But Lupita Nyongo once said, “No matter where you can from, your dreams are valid”. So are mine.(smiles)

Wonderful thoughts!  Are you accepting interested people to join your cause?

Every one who is interested to join me and what I do is welcome. They can email me for details.  Their location in the world doesn’t matter , they can be part of us.

Yes I Can
Yes I Can

I am currently receiving some applications and volunteers too. Thanks to all so much and welcome.

Do you presently have supports from any governmental body, NGos or philanthropists?

Honestly I don’t have any support from any NGO or government body so far.

Would getting one help your campaign in any way?

Getting support would help a lot in my campaign and pushing the journey forward.

Elder Philbert
Elder Philbert

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies are singing and playing music, playing with children in the street, reading books and writing. I write a lot. I usually walk with a notebook and write almost everything that comes in my mind.

Advice children and youths in one sentence….

This is my advice to whoever is reading this;

You can be whoever and whatever you want to be since we dont really fail because we are poor,black or handicapped; we only fail when we give up.”

Thanks for your time once again Elder…

You can connect with Elder Philbert via;

Instagram : @elderphilbert

Facebook: Elder Philbert



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