World Changers Academy

World Changers Academy

World Changers Academy (WCA) is a non-profit organization based in Durban, South Africa that seeks to empower young people through life skills and leadership development programs. WCA targets high school students and young adults between 18 and 35 years old. WCA's leadership programs are full-time, residential courses at its leadership centre on the outskirts of Durban, and its life skills courses are run in libraries, community halls and other venues in numerous, mostly poorer, urban and rural communities in and around the city.


WCA focuses on helping its students to grow mentally, socially, emotionally and spiritually so that they can find success for their lives, and by so doing, help the world around them. A core motto of the organization revolves around its name, World Changers Academy - "Changing the world within us to change the world around us." Students are challenged to develop and nurture their inward life, so that they can find personal success and ultimately be able to impact their families, communities, social institutions, and ultimately, the world, around them. Many students have testified to changing their lives in various ways as a result of the programs, such as overcoming drug and alcohol problems, leaving criminal activities, maintaining more healthy sexual lifestyles, having increased hope and personal direction, and overcoming hurts and wounds from the past. The organizations website has a number of testimonies from former students, such as:

“I have been motivated to volunteer in my community.” Life skills student from Amaoti (Inanda)

“I was very active in smoking dagga (marijuana), drinking and taking drugs. I’ve been sober for 15 months now since I have taken the World Changers courses.” Life skills and leadership student from KwaMashu

“I have learned about my true identity and that I was not a mistake. I’m now positive towards my future and believe in myself.” Life skills and leadership student from KwaNyuswa (Valley of 1000 Hills)

“I was greatly impacted by teachings on forgiveness and healing of the past. I decided to forgive and reconcile with my father. It has made a great difference in my life.” Leadership student from Mthwalume (near Port Shepstone)

“I am HIV positive. I learned to talk about it. Now I want to tell others to help them.” Life skills student from Dassenhoek (near Pinetown)


World Changers Academy was founded in August 2002 by Sizwe Mthembu (a pastor, former teacher and businessman from northern KwaZulu Natal) and Joe White (an American who lived for five years in KwaNyuswa, a semi-rural Zulu community near Durban, doing community empowerment work). As a result of their diverse experiences with community work, Sizwe and Joe both come to realise that individual empowerment had to be based on a combination of social, spiritual and economic efforts in one holistic project, and thus they decided to found World Changers Academy. In August 2002, the first program started with a 3 month Life Skills empowerment course for 100 unemployed youth. Since then, many thousands have been trained through hundreds of courses in over 40 different communities.


LeadershipResidential course conducted at Leadership Centre in Shongweni, Durban

- 7 courses per year for out of school youth (11 weeks per course – 5 weeks residential, 6 weeks community outreach in their local communities)

- 6 courses per year for high school students (7 days per course, all during school holidays)

Life SkillsRun at different venues in various local communities, usually 9am to 1pm daily for 4 weeks.

- 6 outreaches (about 6-10 courses each) per year at various venues, mostly in and around the city of Durban, South Africa

Leadership/Life Skills/Volunteer Cycle

WCA has developed a unique model of raising up young leaders to empower people in their communities. This model has been developed and continues to run successfully among its main target group, unemployed young adults between 18-35 years old. First, WCA runs life skills courses for four weeks (5 days per week, 9-1pm daily) in various communities, which are free and open to all who want to join (as long as they can understand the language medium of the courses, which is generally English, sometimes mixed with Zulu). Then, WCA staff select students from these courses (on average about 10-15%) to attend a WCA leadership course for 11 weeks, which includes food and accommodation with training for five of these weeks. During the remaining 6 weeks of the course, the leadership students assist WCA staff to facilitate life skills courses in their home communities. This enables them to "give back" to their community and to mature by helping others to learn what they have recently learned themselves. Then, a small percentage of leadership students are normally approached to volunteer with the organization after completion of their leadership course. This builds the volunteer base of the organization. Today, all of the nearly 35 full-time volunteer staff of WCA are former leadership students, with exception of the two co-founders.

Key Course Topics

• Vision and Goal Setting*

• African Renaissance*

• Healing of the Past

• Relationships and People Skills (with particular emphasis on HIV/AIDS)*

• Communication Skills*

• Leadership*

• Entrepreneurship*

• Volunteerism and Social Issues*

• Opportunity Awareness (employment, learnerships, further study and volunteering)

• Job Preparation Skills

A * Indicates topics covered by leadership course. Life skills courses cover all topics, but leadership courses cover the topics indicated by * in more depth.


World Changers Academy is registered with Taking IT global [ [ TakingITGlobal - Organizations - World Changers Academy ] at] and [ [ - Welcome to - Imagine. Connect. Act. ] at]

WCA has been profiled with the following media outlets:

Sunday Tribune (Weekly newspaper in KwaZulu Natal Province of South Africa under the Independent Newspapers Banner) [ [ Sunday Tribune ] at]

-"A Chance to Start Again" - Profile of Vusi Kweyama, student and staff member of WCA - 6 June 2004 [ [ Media Report2 ] at]

-"Ready to Change Their Worlds" - Report about radio life skills outreach of WCA - 23 May 2004 [ [ Media Report1 ] at]

Daily News (Weekday newspaper in KwaZulu Natal Province of South Africa under the Independent Newspapers Banner) [ [ Daily News ] at]

-"Township Experience for Foreign Students" - Story about foreign volunteers working with WCA and living in townships - 21 May 2004 [ [ Media Report3 ] at]

-"Aussie Back to Motivate Young People" - Story about 2004 Young Australian of the Year speaking at WCA programmes - 2 February 2005 [ [ Media Report4 ] at]

WCA leaders have frequently spoken on radio programmes, including Ukhozi FM, which has one of the largest listenerships in the world (over six million people). [] WCA has also partnered on several occasions with Radio KNI [] to run life skills broadcasts daily for 4 weeks in a row.

Key Partners

The Oaktree Foundation

Youth With A Mission

Loving South Africa [ [ Loving South Africa ] at]


External links

* [ World Changers Academy Home ] at World Changers Academy Website
* [ The Oaktree Foundation - Young People Learning Through Partnership ] at The Oaktree Foundation Website
* [ Loving South Africa ] at Loving South Africa's AIDS prevention Strategy: World Changers Academy

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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