Steven Bernardus Harageib is a strong advocate for the mainstreaming of youth, mental health, and gender-based violence issues into the development agenda. He is an award-winning international speaker in more than 30 countries. His public service to influence transformational change through his work at the Office of the First Lady of the The Republic of Namibia and One Economy Foundation is informed by his more than 10 years' experience in the non-profit sector and educational background in social work.
He is a co-founding member of Young Achievers Empowerment Project. He has served on the Namibia Youth Coalition for Climate Change as the Strategic Partnership Officer. He has participated and represented Namibia on several international platforms. He is a 2019 Thomson Reuters Foundation Change Maker, Apolitical Public Service Fellows, Mandela Washington Fellow and a One Young World Ambassador. He served as the Deputy Regional Representative for African at Child Helpline International. He has received outstanding accolades from the Preparing Global Leaders’ Summit in Macedonia as well as the YALA citizen journalism program in Jerusalem.
On the continent, he has served as the Southern African Commonwealth Youth Representative, participated in The decade of Human and Peoples Rights Symposium in Tanzania as well as the High-Level Dialogue on Transitional Justice. As a mental health activist, he believes wellness should be highlighted and integrated into the continental-development agenda. He is a serial optimist with a strong curiosity for life and understanding. He is seeking to create spaces for amplifying emerging and new voices to enrich the conversations and dialogues about development.
Potolicchio: What PGLF school did you do and what was your most memorable moment or takeaway?
Harageib: I had the pleasure of attending the PGLI 2015 class in Struga, Macedonia. My most memorable moments were the reflections on the class we had. The organic conversations with the fellows after dinner, during walks to the shops and in between breaks help to synthesize some of the learning. It additionally
Potolicchio: What have you done since PGLF and what are you up to now?
Harageib: I always had a passion for social justice. I have served in the non-profits space in various capacities for almost 13 years. Since PGLI I have participated on and represented Namibia on several international platforms. I was awarded several recognitions and fellowships: 2019 Thomson Reuters Foundation Change Maker; The Young Independents SADC 100 Young Leaders; 2018/2019 Apolitical Public Service Fellowship; Mandela Washington Fellowship; and as a 2018 One Young World Ambassador. I have served as the Deputy Regional Representative for African at Child Helpline International. On the continent, I have served as the Southern African Commonwealth Youth Representative, participated in The decade of Human and Peoples Rights Symposium in Tanzania as well as the High-Level Dialogue on Transitional Justice. I am currently working at the Office of the First Lady of the Republic of Namibia and the First Lady’s Foundation called One Economy Foundation. Through this work we have been able to work with youth, grassroots communities, service providers, survivors of sexual and gender based violence, perpetrators of gender based violence etc to bridge the gap between the first and second economy.
Potolicchio: What's a signature productivity hack that has worked well for you during your career?
Harageib: Keep your head down, be grateful, stay curious and arrive FULLY with a smile everyday…
Potolicchio: What advice would you go back and give yourself at 18?
Harageib: Walking through those corridors of life currently seems like a vast universe of possibilities and that you are but an insignificant figure. I know choosing a career can be daunting considering all the things that you want to do. However I want you to know that things will work out. Your biggest challenge has been to be true to yourself, own your voice and experiences because they make you uniquely you. Make sure to enjoy your time on campus, study hard, play hard and build a wide network. Don’t be afraid to try new things. You come in as a blank canvas, paint and colour it with a wide variety. The four years on campus are going to fly so quickly though it feels like it will never end. You are going to miss your friends as each of you pursue different paths but remember that those relationships are deep enough that time and space will only strengthen them. You are rich with authentic and deep relationships.
Your life is going to be unconventional. Do not prepare for mediocrity or the easy; choose the seemingly difficult path, that is where you will grow. You will lead young people; you will lead peers and even those much older than you. Though you may feel like an imposter, thinking you do not deserve to be in these spaces, do it afraid. Many opportunities will open up that are beyond your scope, study and diversify your skill. Realize though that life is a winding road, though it feels like you have it figured out prepare to be pleasantly surprised.
Though your degree was only in Social Work you are doing advocacy and policy development work in youth development, gender based violence, sexual reproductive health rights, transitional justice, education access, communications, human rights, civic engagements, elections and governance to name a few.
As you read this letter give yourself a hug. Slow down and take stock. Do not let anyone own you but, craft your own space. Love people generously. Continue to listen to that voice within telling you to be your truest fullest and most authentic self. Be daring dude do not play small nor apologize for the amazement that is YOU. Embrace the uncertainty, keep your optimism for it shall reward you, and laugh abundantly for that is where healing lies and baffling contentment.
Potolicchio: What question are we not asking?
Harageib: Why do you do the work you do?
The normalization of trauma and further the generational impact thereof continues to cripple Africa. Since young people are the strategic avenue for changing narratives, he continuously invests in the development potential of young people. Young people are mavericks because they see the world fundamentally through a different lens to their predecessors. They are not going away they have fire in their eyes. The rapidly changing world presents a myriad of challenges to leaders in the 21st Century and demands those in leadership to understand the prevailing climate. Youth are rising, participating and engaging governance conversations and becoming accountable for the developmental agenda. I believe that civil society are co governors holding government accountable whilst expediting the national and continental agenda. As an inspirational speaker he continues to tap into the lived experiences to unmask the hidden treasure in each person and disrupt harmful narratives.