Lack of finances the only hurdle for student who cracked invitation due to academic credentials and leadership qualities.

A first-year Wits student has been invited to attend the Arab Youth International Model United Nations (AYIMUN) leadership conference which will take place in Dubai in September.

Kgotsofatso Mogakane, who is studying speech pathology and audiology, applied through the AYIMUN website in February, by submitting outstanding academic credentials and meeting various leadership standards and requirements set by the organisation.

“It is such a great honour to be invited and I am excited to finally prove my leadership ability and to connect with other leaders from around the world,” Mogakane told Wits Vuvuzela.

He said he wants to attend the conference so that he can give back to his community through Better World Organisation, which he founded after leaving high school in 2017.

His organisation has helped students from his village in Welverdiend, Mpumalanga, to gain entrance into tertiary institutions by assisting with applications and providing tutoring.

Among these students is 18-year-old Nhlawuleko Ngobeni, a first-year public relations and communication student at the University of Johannesburg. “Kgotso and his organisation assisted all the grade 12 learners [at Mahlale High School] with their applications, they even helped us choose careers. I’m now at university because of him.”

Model United Nations is an international platform that allows young leaders from around the globe to engage with world issues such as poverty and inequality, as well as to discuss methods that may bring about world peace.

Despite this opportunity, Mogakane told Wits Vuvuzela that he is currently unable to attend the conference due to a lack of finances. “Leadership is very weak in this country. I believe that young leaders such as myself need more access to sponsorship so that the leadership in South Africa can become stronger in the future.”

According to Sara Toofail Ahmed Vidha, the secretary-general of AYIMUN, the organisation does not currently sponsor any of its delegates. “If there are any financial issues, we advise and suggest the participant seek sponsorship from local bodies, institutions and organisations.”

In an attempt to fund his trip, which will cost approximately R20 000, Mogakane has started an online donations account in his name and has reached out to various channels such as the WitsJustKidding Instagram page, in hopes of gaining support from the Wits community. He remains hopeful, though he hasn’t been able to raise “even close to the amount required”.

FEATURED IMAGE: Kgotsofatso Mogakane is raising funds to attend a leadership conference in the United Arab Emirates later this year. Photo: Niall Higgins