Bethel Kyeza: You don't need a crowd to pursue purpose
Bethel Kyeza is a 18-year-old multi-talented lady who chose the path of making positive change by coming up with long term practical solutions to the ranging issues in the world today. One of such issues is the deprivation of the rights of the minority and different intersectional groups which she stands as an influencer to change this rationale.
This charming damsel is not only involved in global and political development, she is active in positively impacting, the current and next generation. Her passion for children, led her to work with them especially those denied access to education and are exposed to child marriages.
At such young age, Bethel Kyeza is Girl Up Teen Advisor from the United Kingdom. That is not all. She is also into film making, women's rights activism and public speaking.
How does she manage so many portfolios? Well...Omote Ro Dhe was delighted to catch up with her in a chat and she opened up on this and more. Read excerpts below:
*You are the Teen Advisor for Girl Up. Please tell us more about it....
Being a girl up Teen advisor has impacted my life in unimaginable ways. My teen advisor class consists of 24 self-identified girls from around the world who are passionate about global gender equality and equity. Through the girl up teen advisor program I have been given the opportunity to represent Girl Up Campaign when speaking, the women in development conference being just one example. Generally speaking teen advisors have a close relationship with Girl up staff, help organise events, receive intensive skill based training and learning and we also actively get to develop our leadership skills and share these with our influence.
* Why do you focus on girls?
The reason why I focus on 'girls' is because I as a self-identified woman have personally experienced the inequalities when it comes to gender and I have also visited places, studied, looked into research and heard stories where the lack of equality is detrimental to the girl and their future. An area I heavily focus on is child marriage and access to education in developing countries. It is quite evident that a lot of girls who have so much potential have their voices silenced from a young age, and in areas where poverty is extremely high when it comes to decisions such as sending children to school if it's between a boy and girl they're likely to send the boy to school and keep the girl at home to perfect home duties and get married off against their own will. This is just one example of the many inequalities and the inequality isn't just in developing countries it is evident everywhere and sometimes we are so used to it that we don't even realise it.
* What are some of the things you learned working with girls?
Some things that I've learnt working with girls is the importance of sister hood and the support from each other. I have realised that encouragement and support from each other can boost self esteem and confidence and I believe this is so important especially in situations when you feel like you can't achieve your goal because you are a girl.
* Who are some of the women that inspire you and why?
Christiane Amanpour andMeghan Markleare two women that inspire me. Amanpour inspires me because of the barriers she has managed to overcome and the narrative she has managed to change. She is a journalist and global anchor, and having grown up in Iran there are a lot of barriers put up simply because she's a woman but Amanpour has consistently been vigilant and compassionate which is why she continues to inspire me. Meghan Markle also inspires me in so many ways and most recently she has been open and vulnerable which has been a constant reminder to me that we are all humans and we all have battles and its okay to accept them. Meghan Markle has gone against the expectations of society to ensure her and her family are happy which I believe is extremely strong and an important reminder that fame doesn't equate to happiness, her stepping down from the royal family showed bravery and confidence and through this she still remained strong.
* How do you juggle multiple roles as a filmmaker, women's rights activist and public speaker without getting burnt out?
These roles that have been mentioned are all areas that I am passionate about so I am always driven to continue activism and creativity to the best of my ability, but in reality burnout is something that almost everyone experiences and that's why I believe it is extremely important to have a great support system that understands your passion and why you're doing what you are doing. Having a support system can take off the pressure and makes you realise that you don't need to make a change as an individual but it can be done as team. Having a support system also allows people to take over and continue when you need that time aside and time to regenerate. It is also important to realise that taking a break as an activist doesn't make you weak but it can make you stronger.
* In this trying period of the COVID-19 pandemic how has it been for you? How has it affected your routine?
COVID-19 has been a unique experience. I went from following a strict school schedule to having none at all and having to create my own. Having spent nearly 6 weeks at home no day has been the same, some days I spend finishing school work, others I spend planning for future events and doing creative things such as baking and painting.
Some days I spend watching Netflix all day and others I'll spend preparing for university and at the beginning it was hard to adjust but this has become the current new normal and I'm learning to adapt to the situations I have no control over.
One thing I have tried to be consistent with is communication with friends and family and although we are physically isolating this doesn't mean we have to socially isolate, so I try to call friends I haven't spoken to in a while and check up on people because living through a pandemic can affect people in a variety of different ways and I think well-being is something we shouldn't neglect.
* If you have to do something all over again, what would you change?
This is an interesting question, and when I read it I tried to think of something I would change if I had to do it all again, but for me personally as cliché as it may sound there's nothing I would change because although things don't always go as planned in life, life always finds a way to figure itself out and most of the time things tend to fall in place and figure themselves out and even they don't in that moment I tend to look back and realise everything happens for a reason and if it hadn't happened that specific way I wouldn't be where I currently am or achieved what I currently have.
* How would you describe your fashion style?
I would describe my fashion style as an "emotional spectrum" and I say this because it constantly changes depending on how I feel. A lot of the time I dress for comfort but I also enjoy thinking about and planning my outfits and if it makes me happy then I will wear it.
* What is that one thing you would say life has taught you?
Life has taught me to do everything with a kind heart and go into everything with an open mind. In life you don't know people's stories, how far they've come to get where they are and the barriers they have overcome, so for you to be able to empathise with people and be open minded about situations could impact their lives in unimaginable ways and being kind only makes the journey in life easier and it makes you and the people you surround yourself with happier.
*You have some projects you are working on currently, can you share with us ?
I am currently working on a podcast to tackle unspoken but important topics. The aim is to bring light to these topics and remove the stigma behind them because there are so many issues that affect peoples lives in different ways but they can't even be addressed because they're considered to be 'taboo topics".
* What is your favourite book(s) of all time?
My favourite book of all time has to be "Becoming by Michelle Obama". This is by far my favourite book firstly because its based on her real life experience and secondly because of the realness in the book. It highlights her struggles, where she came from but then it also shows the positive outcome. Her story is extremely inspiring especially to minority groups because it highlights that even with obstacles in your way, it is possible to achieve your dreams.
I was also lucky enough to win a copy of 'its not ok to feel blue and other lies' at the 2019 Girl Up United Kingdom Summit and this book is like no other. It explores some of the unspoken struggles in our lives, our mental health.
Although recently mental health has become more talked about and systems have been created to support mental health, the experiences talked about in this book always remind me that there was a time where there wasn't that help and support system for people struggling with their mental health.
*What advice do you have for young women pursuing purpose?
Advice I would give to young women pursuing purpose is that you don't need to have a large audience or big platform to pursue purpose. You can make an influence in your school, within your family and in your local community. Thousands of people don't need to be watching you for you to make a change, and once you accept that it is easier to become content with how far you've come and create more goals.