The Inspirationals: Whitney Johnson, Generation Ubuntu
25 Jun 2015
Every other week, we do a short profile of someone who has been successful creating a career out of doing what they love. We call it The Inspirationals and we hope they will inspire you too!
What is Generation Ubuntu?
Generation Ubuntu is a nonprofit organisation dedicated to improving the health and well-being of children and teens living with HIV in South Africa. They provide an innovative care program for children and teens, ages 4 to 18, living with HIV and their families in Khayelitsha (a township located just outside of Cape Town), South Africa.
Generation Ubuntu sees the person first, not the illness. They believe that with the right whole-person care, children living with HIV can live full, successful and meaningful lives. It is about guidance and inspiration, shining a light on the problem while highlighting the joy and positivity that abounds.
Why do we love Whitney?
We love Whitney because she is full of heart, but inspired to action. During college, Whitney made the decision to study abroad in South Africa during her junior year and while she was there, she began volunteering at an orphanage in Khayelitsha. During her time there she saw so many young people struggling with HIV completely alone – many had been rejected by their families and could not access treatment or support.
The Generation Ubuntu model empowers kids and teens to live healthy and successful lives through an innovative care model of Healthcare & Nutrition, Psycho Social Support, HIV & Life Skills Education and Community Support. The children attend the after-school program every day and think of it as a home away from home. Whitney’s program helps to enrich both bodies and minds by providing nutritious, home-cooked meals and engaging in fun, confidence-boosting activities and lessons led by enthusiastic facilitators.
How was Whitney inspired to start Generation Ubuntu?
After studying in South Africa, Whitney returned to the US to finish her degree, but she could not shake what she had seen. She was heartbroken and overwhelmed by the scale of HIV/AIDS, but also felt a strong calling to take action. Although HIV is a chronic disease, it is a very manageable condition and it seemed so senseless to her that these children were unable to survive and thrive. She knew that more could be done to support these children that had slipped through the cracks.
After graduating from college she began raising funds and moved back to South Africa to launch Generation Ubuntu. They opened their doors in 2007 in a rundown shack with 10 kids and a few volunteers from the Khayeltisha community. The program grew organically from there and they now serve over 200 children and their families with a staff of 14. They hope to open additional centers and scale the program to serve more children in the coming years.
Quotable: Whitney on what advice she would give to others looking to start a business doing what they love……
“Create an internal barometer for success. Even when you love your work, stress and external pressures can pull you out of alignment. Regardless of what the tangible goals of your business are, be clear about what the energy of your creation ultimately should feel like. How do you feel? How do people that come into contact with your business feel? Spend time visualizing and feeling the essential energy that you intend on manifesting through your business. That feeling is your barometer for success.”
How would Whitney describe herself in one word?
Positive. Whitney tells us: “I believe that a positive and appreciative approach fuels success on all levels. A positive outlook is contagious and can change paradigms almost instantly.”