Challenged by fear of the unkown
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Your name: Brighton Mukupa Kaoma
Your age: 20
Where are you originally from and where do you currently live?
I’m born and bred Zambian, grew up in the mining town of Kitwe, and currently living in Lusaka which is the capital city of Zambia.
According your business card – what is your job title?
I am a UNICEF Youth Ambassador and currently serving as Zambia In-Country Coordinator for the Voices of Youth Connect-a UNICEF global network for in-school and out-of-school youth activists and global citizens.
And how does that compare with what you wanted to do when you were 10 years old?
As a child I was thrilled by the idea of becoming an architect simply because it stroke me as the money spinning career. But as I transitioned through adolescence I begun developing a strong passion for sustainable development and youth empowerment.
Give us 5 words or phrases that describe your typical work day.
Innovative, busy, setting goals, implementing decisions, and captivating.
In a nutshell, how did you get to where you are right now? Name some of the most important milestones.
There are many adjectives that I would use to describe what has made me who I’m today, but I think it’s all because of determination, dedication, perseverance and believing that there is limitless potential that each one us is born with. Upon being designated as a UNICEF Child Climate Ambassador April 2010, I establishing a half an hour radio talk show back in my community called Kitwe with an aim of enlightening the community on different environmental issues and problems. And that called for assertiveness in conveying the right information on environmental issues to the community and I was also compelled to always divide my time wisely and arrange activities in order of priority because I was still pursuing my high school education during the time I became a child environmental activist in my community. I volunteered for UNICEF for close to five years until this year in February when I got a job as In-country Coordinator for the Voices of Youth Connect Program. Service above self, respect, dedication, time management and hunger for success are the catalysts that enabled me get to where I am today.
What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome to get to your current position and how did it help you to grow as a person?
I think the biggest two challenges I faced was dealing with fear of the unknown and finding what I was so passionate about. When I was in high school, medicine was held in high prestige and teachers spoke highly of it. And that almost disturbed me because I felt I wasn’t being challenged to think outside the box and find that which I was so passionate about. When I eventually discovered my strong passionate for environmental sustainability and sustainable development I begun advocating for climate change mitigation and adaptation at both national and international foras.
What are the top three things someone needs to excel in your field?
Perseverance, Empathy and Responsibility.
What do you think is the MOST important thing governments and/or companies can do to help young people get started in their careers?
I believe that leaders create leader and not followers; hence the government and the private sector have got a mandate to empower young people with tools and skills to help them flourish and become agents of real change in their communities. The other thing we need to have at heart whether in the private or public sector is that ACCOUNTABILITY is our RESPONSIBILITY, if young people are to be mentored and molded well. Because where big people see problems young people see opportunities and this vividly explains the unquestionable reasons why young people should be integrated into the world system as leaders and not followers.
On a lighter note, tell us about the strangest day you’ve ever had at work or the strangest thing you had to do?
I work each day each day with the people who I deeply admire, people with the capacity to create, the capacity to invent, and the capacity to innovate in a wide range of realms. The environment I work in always catalyzes me into becoming an ethical young leader.
Some words to youth out there: What advice can you give them when chasing their dream position?
Today, we face immense local and global challenges, including, changes in climate, poor infrastructure, education and health concerns, and rapid population growth. But where adults see problems, children and young people see opportunities. Hence young people need to share ideas and inspire others to take action and become real agents of change at community, national and international levels.