Here at HAVAS LYNX, we held an internal competition to send one of our amazing young employees to the One Young World Summit 2013 in Johannesburg. We asked for their social initiatives that will lead our High5ives activity in 2014. The competition was tough and we held a public vote to pick the winner.

The lucky winner was Lukeki Kaindama, Account Executive with her initiative to tackle low self esteem in young people.

Lukeki has just returned from the summit, and below Lukeki describes her experiences from the event and how as global citizens we can all strive to achieve a better world...

The road to One Young World was a challenging but fulfilling one. From the very beginning I had to step out of my comfort zone in order to earn the opportunity to attend the One Young World Summit, first by proposing my initiative to combat low self-esteem in young girls and then by inspiring people to vote for my idea via social media. By the time One Young World actually came around and I landed in Johannesburg, I was extremely excited but didn’t know what to expect. I knew however that it would be an experience of a lifetime.

As we got onto the coaches to go to Soccer City Stadium for the opening ceremony, all you could hear was the excited buzz of delegates gathered together from all over the world. 1,300 delegates from 190 countries were present and there were flags from everywhere highlighting the diversity of people who had all come together for the summit “Where young leaders start leading”.

From the start of the opening ceremony, aided by the vuvuzelas being trumpeted by children from local schools in Johannesburg,  there was an excitement surrounding the fact that the summit was not only being held in Africa for the first time, but in South Africa. With opening speeches from former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus, and finally musician and activist Bob Geldof who left us with the call to action to “Just get on with it”, the tone was set for the summit.

On the first day, after an enthusiastic welcome from the co-founders of One Young World, David Jones and Kate Robertson, the summit began. With counsellors such as Kofi Annan, Jamie Oliver, Bob Geldof, Ahmed Kathrada, Francois Pienaar, Fatima Bhutto, Muhammad Yunus, Arianna Huffington, Boris Becker, Carole Stone, Dr Mamphela Ramphele, Christine Ockrent, Lily Cole, Lauren Bush, Richard Branson, Bethlehem Alemu and Ron Garan to name a few, there was a wealth of inspiration, motivation and wisdom imparted to us through the sessions.

A variety of topics were covered including education, global business, leadership, human rights and government as well as special sessions such as Women Up, The Orbital Perspective, Malaria No More and HIV & AIDs.

One extremely moving special session was ‘Knowing Nelson Mandela’, where Ahmed Kathrada, Francois Pienaar and Nobulalu Dangazele shared their personal stories of who Nelson Mandela is to them; a man who can relate to everyone, a man who knows the importance of education as a key to unlocking ones liberation, and a man who has forgiveness in his heart despite the adversity he experienced.

Some of the most moving of sessions were the plenary sessions where delegates spoke about the projects they were already involved in and the work they were already doing. The most poignant for me were the education and human rights plenary sessions where delegates shared their personal stories of what inspired them to do the amazing work that they currently do in their respective countries.

During the summit we also had the opportunity to go on breakout sessions in Johannesburg to see and experience the city. My group had the opportunity to visit the Carlton Tower, the tallest building in South Africa, discussing and debating where Africa will be in the next 50 years as part of a contribution to “Agenda 2063” that will be presented at the AU Summit in January 2014. We also had internal breakout sessions on our chosen plenary topic, mine being Global Business and how businesses can do good business.

By the time the closing ceremony arrived we were all inspired and excited with the change we could make when we returned to our respective countries. The appearance of the special guest Winnie Mandela signified how special this summit was. “You are the custodians of a better world we all strive for that will only be achieved by you” she told us, and these are words that continue to stick with me.

Throughout the summit we heard from influential leaders from various sectors and from freedom fighters who were prepared to die for what they believed in. It is due to their actions that we are able to have the opportunity now to build on what they have done. I personally left inspired, challenged to continue to step out of my comfort zone and committed to playing my part as a global citizen to effect positive change where I can. We were all now left with the challenge to come out of our comfort zones, identify what we believe can be done and start taking action because, as Kofi Annan stated, “Together we can make a big difference”.