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Neo the Health Influencer

“Life’s journey is filled with unexpected twists and turns, but it’s how we navigate them that defines us,” says Neo Innocent Jackie Langa, a 21-year-old with a story that inspires hope.

Neo’s journey with the My Journey Influencer programme began with a simple inquiry at Childline Gauteng, where he met his supportive social worker, Lebo. Little did he know that this meeting would lead him to grow and become more confident. “I went there to just talk about difficulties I have encountered in my personal life,” he says, “as I was telling her about what I have been through, she then invited me to join a group session where we talked and learned all about PrEP pills.”

Through the My Journey Programme, Neo gained knowledge about HIV prevention and also received essential life skills training. “I later joined the economic strengthening and livelihoods class where I was taught about work readiness, CV drafting, financial literacy, interview skills, skills assessment, and introduction to entrepreneurship,” he explains. This program helped him with the tools he needed to succeed in different parts of life.

My journey influencers

My Journey Influencers during training

Despite early concerns about his qualifications, Neo took the opportunity to become a social media influencer for the My Journey programme offered by NACOSA. “At first, I was not sure if I qualify for the post, but I took my shot,” he recalls. After a couple of interviews and training sessions, Neo landed the offer. “I was so happy, couldn’t explain in words,” he reflects on the moment he received the news.

Neo finds his influencer role exciting. With every opportunity, Neo strives to empower his peers and raise awareness about crucial health issues. “All I would say is that I am grateful for the opportunities I have received and I am hoping to grow with this programme for the next coming months and years to come.”

PrEP

Neo’s Facebook post

The My Journey Programme is funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, aims to reduce HIV and AIDS in South Africa by engaging, informing, and empowering young people like Neo. Through initiatives like the Influencer project, young people are provided with knowledge and empowered to raise their voices and address the issues that affect them directly. The current Influencers are all between 18 and 25 years old and were selected from the My Journey programme. They were out of school and not engaged in education, employment, or training.

As Neo keeps achieving more, he feels grateful to his social worker and mentors for always being there for him. “I would like to say thank you to my social worker Miss Lebo and both of my managers, for the opportunities I have received so far and I promise to take the flag higher.”

With determination and dedication, Neo is not just shaping his own future but also inspiring others to do the same. To see Neo in action follow him on Instagram and Facebook.