On January 5 2019, Keabetwse Jan tweeted out “O jewa ke eng?” — asking her Twitter followers what’s bothering them. The tweet currently has over 97 600 retweets and comments and 78 000 likes. Many people have used the tweet to express their concerns and look for job opportunities. Now Jan has used her platform to help a larger audience.
Jan is the founder of OJK, a non-governmental organisation aimed at creating a better future for the youth. She is also part of Metropolitan’s Three Steps Together campaign along with Dr Musa Mthombeni and Malibongwe Xaba. Jan chatted with The Daily Vox about her tweet and the campaign.
“What the campaign is about is that Metropolitan along with motivators are encouraging South Africans to talk about their experiences during such a crucial time linked to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Jan explains. Throughout the campaign the motivators have been providing people with easy to use steps to navigate through the new normal in a COVID-19 world.
Jan says the entire campaign aims to foster a culture of mental strength.
She was approached to join the campaign because of her viral tweet. The tweet was sent out without any planning in mind just to find out what was bothering people. “I didn’t anticipate that it would blow up as much as it did and last as long as it did,” she says.
Jan says her tweet has helped a lot of people as a platform for them to vent out their problems and get help people find jobs. Jan says her tweet and the campaign are linked closely together in terms of encouraging people to speak about their problems. “When they share their problems, they stand a much closer chance of getting help instead of just suffering in silence,” Jan says.
For the past month that the campaign has been running, Jan has a spot of Lesedi FM on Tuesday. There is also a social media campaign on the Metropolitan pages and Jan’s personal social media. On radio, Jan has specific topics she chats about. People have also been given the chance to call in. Jan gives them tips to help them build their mental strength.
She says the response to the show has been amazing. People have called in to relate their problems and concerns. Jan then gives them easy to use steps to deal with their concerns.
The show and campaign tackled many issues including parenting during COVID-19. Jan says parents have had to focus on their jobs and children during the lockdown. “So the tips we gave the people were to firstly acknowledge that it is overwhelming and then secondly they can reach out to other people. It’s good to reach out to others instead of suffering in silence. I also advised parents to speak to their children and for them make the children understand because it’s confusing for the children,” she says.
Along with her volunteer work, Jan is currently working towards a nursing degree. She says her work with the campaign has shown her that her chosen career is correct.
“I’m up to dealing with challenges and just advising people about how to deal with everything that they’re facing. I enjoy working with people,” she says.
The campaign ends on July 10 but the advice Jan has been sharing remains pertinent. She says the most important thing during this difficult time is to reach out to people. However, she maintains that it is equally important to set time for yourself.
“You can only help people so much and you can only give so much. Give yourself time to give to yourself,” says Jan.