How 1 local TBL-role model impacts the lives of 100 children in Ghana

How 1 local ‘Talent Beyond Limits’- role model impacts the lives of 100 children in Ghana. 
During my 1-on-1 sessions in Bolgatanga, one person did not come to get life & career guidance from me. He came to me, because he wanted to bring back to me how I had not only impacted his life on a deep level, but the lives of 100 children too.

Joseph Abongo was participant in Talent Beyond Limits – ‘Your Next Step Experience’ on 12 December 2015. ‘Your Next Step Experience’ is a 3 hours group session around the topic Self-Discovery.

Joseph tells me that the experience learned him how to connect to his inner voice and to listen to it more often. One night, a little while after 12 December, he heard his voice loud and clear, giving him direction. It was telling him to do something that he had never thought about before: to go to one of the orphanages in Bolgatanga to spent time with the children there.

At first, Joseph was hesitating. He never thought of this and never experienced what he now felt. But he tells me that he also learned from me that he should DARE. That it is sometimes needed to go beyond your own comfort zone and DO more than talking or thinking about something. That overcoming fears or hesitations is part of the learning and life circle.

So, Joseph went to the orphanage and talked to the Director. For her, it wat a great timing and she accepted the offer. Since then, Joseph is visiting the orphanage every Saturday evening at 7.30pm.

Over 40 children are living in the orphanage. They are in the age range 3-18 years. Joseph organised them in groups. He tells me that he was able to open the children up and invite them to share their problems. And then he motivates and encourages them. Exactly as Joseph felt I had done to him and the group.

Whilst spending time with the children, he learned that they lack fatherhood. Some of the children even call him ‘daddy’ without being really aware that they are doing it. He also formed a choir and recently he bought a drum. The drum even increased the happiness of making music together. Joseph experiences a lot of joy and he notices that the children are very happy too.

This time in the orphanage learned Joseph that it is one thing to help these children how to live right. But that the main difference he felt through me, is that you have to go into their personal lives. To really become part of them and their world. That is how you reach their heart. That is how you help them to open up. That is how you help them to overcome their past and the difficult life experiences many of these children had.

But this is not the full story.

Joseph is a teacher in Junior High School. He teaches children in the age range 14-16. He tells me he brings the experiences he has in the orphanage into the class room. He connects what the children read in their “foreign” text books to the daily life experiences of the children in the orphanage. He discovered that there is a lot of wisdom in the orphans that is worth sharing with the more privileged children in the High school. He tells me that he sees that his pupils develop a broader perspective of life beyond their own.

One day one of his pupils came to Joseph. The boy told Joseph that he had a fight with one of his friends about 3 months ago. And that they were not talking to each other since them. He asked Joseph to help him re-connect to his friend. And so Joseph did. The two children asked forgiveness from each other and are best friends again.

Joseph shared his experiences with a few people. Two people are interested to join and also spent time with the orphans.

Whilst listening, I feel I am getting more quiet by the minute. I have had many people giving feedback on how I impacted their lives. But this story feels like the purest one of all. For me, it feels as if everything has fallen in place.

And in that moment, I realise that this is only the beginning. For me. For Joseph. For these children.

I share the words with Joseph that I feel need to be shared:
“Joseph, you totally felt my energy and the meaning of the underlying Ghanaian principles of Talent Beyond Limits: ‘Nkonsonkonson’ and ‘Ka-Boom’. 

You not only planted a seed of promises in these children by talking to them. You also decided to actively nurture and take care of the seed.

Bit by bit. Day by day.

You are bringing these orphans the family and community life. An essential part of Ghana that they have to miss because of the circumstances they were and are in. You are helping them to grow an identity beyond ‘being an orphan’.

And you are helping the children in your school to bridge the differences between their own world and the world of others in society. One day, all these children overcome their background and are the adults that work together in taking care of a better world for all us“.

“Yes, I feel it. That is the direction”, he responds.

When I ask what is the most important Joseph learned from the ‘Your Next Step Experience’  he answers that it:
– helped him to be myself, to not experience any competition
– made him more humble and listen to others without judgment
– affected his profession in a positive way

When we say goodbye we both feel that there is so much more potential ahead of us beyond this moment and these words.

But the only thing that is really relevant is that we just continue to be who we are and to do what we do. And we do it ‘Day by day. Step by step. Person by person. Life by life’.

Whilst writing this, my thoughts go back to two weeks ago. When I met a young man, Donau, on the streets in Accra. Because I felt this meeting had a deeper meaning that I would soon discover, I filmed myself whilst talking about that experience.

Check the film fragment here

It brings a fundamental question to the surface:
What if 13 year old Donau had met a local Talent Beyond Limits-role model in Bolgatanga who believed in his potential, had sincerely listened to him and had helped him to deal with his life challenges there and then?


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