My year 2014 can definitely be said to have been a fulfilling year with much achievements and exposure to more of life’s opportunities. Major highlights of this great year include my just concluded Afara leadership development program (LDP) and the Afara Makes A Difference (AMAD) project, amongst others. Early this year in March, I bought my LDP form, prepared for my interview not quite sure what exactly the program had in store for me. I admit to having had some doubt and being uncertain about my choice to participate mostly due to the lengthy time span of the whole program. It almost seemed impossible then. Now I sit back, retrospect and I realize I do not regret one bit of it.
All LDP sessions were eye opening sessions. Eye openers to things completely alien to me, things I had known but never really paid attention to, things I knew and was aware of just not in technical terms. Session after session, and with time I started looking forward to my Saturday sessions. The sessions promoted understanding self, understanding others, hence developing better interpersonal relationships and general life skills. All the knowledge gained, I excitedly endeavoured to put to practice in my everyday life. And then came the AMAD project.
AMAD 2014 project to me was a final assessment of LDP and EDP (Entrepreneurship Development Program) sessions. A time to show we really and truly had gained much from all our sessions and our facilitators. It was aimed at testing our interpersonal relationship with one another as we lived together under a roof and possibly shared beds. Also it was aimed at relaying all the great knowledge we had gotten to others, ranging from leadership skills for the children and teenagers, to EDP and skills acquisition sessions to the women.
Kicking the project off initially seemed very achievable considering we were over 25 participants in the class and with adequate division of labour it would be imagined that things would be able to be run smoothly. But with time, with intensified school activities taking everyone’s mind off LDP, we were left with almost less than 10 active participants involved. Members of the fund-raising team (myself inclusive) were faced with the challenge of seeking funds from companies at a time towards the end of the year and which posed a great difficulty. But thankfully we were able to sort it all out with the bright idea of selling fund-raising tickets at a cost of N100 each.
At this rate and with 50 booklets of 50 tickets each, we were able to raise N250,000 which after much budget readjustment was sufficient. As a result of ghost participants we were a little short of funds. But we still survived. From this, I learnt that letting the team spirit die should absolutely be avoided because reviving it is never so easy, and also that without all hands on deck it is difficult to get a team project rolling.
Few weeks to the project, things began to pick up slowly and steadily and on the day of departure, we had 2 buses full. Many hadn’t disappointed as imagined. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t make it on that day with the rest as a result of other engagements of mine. I got to Iloti Town the next day with much anticipation for the coming 5days.
That day I got to know of the 2 teams and 2 villages we would be working with. We had our first EDP session with the women and they communicated their major need to us. Money. The next day, I got to see both admiration and appreciation on the faces of the children at the schools where we assisted with school subjects. We got even more appreciation during the skills acquisition sessions with the women.
Watching the women learn so eagerly gave a sense of accomplishment. More fulfilling was having the students ask for phone numbers and request our return on our last day at the school. The pictures taken with them would make it all a lasting memory for us all. Seeing a neighbour downstairs in the house we lived, packaging liquid soap she had made on her own from knowledge gained at the skill acquisition session was even more fulfilling.
An overview of the whole journey in Ijebu-Ode shows that we all had gained from our LDP sessions as we were able to hold together and deliver effectively to the Iloti residents. We lived together in harmony, understanding and tolerating whatever differences there might have been.
We all played our parts and worked according to the roaster created and even offered assistance to others when available. We shared jokes, laughed together, bonded more closely and made new friends. We not just cohabited but we were like a family, a happy one. My AMAD experience is one I am grateful to have had.