Friday, March 13, 2015

Akilu’s Story: Giving a voice to myself and Yumba

In this weeks blog, Akilu tells his story of working on the Yumba Project. As his Team Leaders, we are very proud of Akilu. He has been an excellent team member, who has delivered great impacts for the project. He is also someone who has been transformed during the past 10 weeks. Well done Akilu!

My name is Murtala Akilu, a citizen of Ghana hailing from Bawku in the Upper East Region. As an individual born and raised in a town that was hitherto arguably deemed the most economically vibrant in Ghana, but regrettably came to gain notoriety for repeated insurgence of tribal conflict, it appeared, especially for a younger generation like us, as though it was best to always remain silent as one may not be sure of what is appropriate or inappropriate to say to others in the face of pervasive lingering suspicions among members of the community. This situation overtime became a fertile ground for a sense of timidity to thrive. Consequently, this made me grow up to be a person who is
largely reserved, living most of my life in solitary. It was not therefore surprising that I grew up to have a phobia for public speaking, a status-quo that had a toll on my core values and vision of being a voice for the voiceless, the marginalised in our society like the the intellectually disabled among us. The impact was so intense that I nearly gave up this noble dream for the the palpable incongruence of my persona with such a dream.

Thus, aside from the fact that the activities of International Service aligns with my values and vision of providing support for the less privileged, the platform also afforded me the golden opportunity to improve upon my public speaking skills which is a non-negotiable trait for being who I want to be.
Today, I am overwhelmed with joy to report that I made the best out of my participation on this programme, seeing a massive improvement on what I considered to be a menacing hindrance in the past.

I started working on this shortfall right from the assessment day where twenty-six applicants where brought to interact. Indeed, it's apt to refer to that day as the genesis of my transformation. Since then, other similar platforms I chanced upon courtesy of my participation on the programme included a pre-placement training, a week-long intensive induction where all the volunteers and team leaders were present and subsequently, the interactions we had in a smaller group of seven on the Yumba project.

I was fortunate during the ten weeks of my placement to report to my team leaders and members of the group as a whole on progress made and plans of action on tasks assigned me for further deliberations, suggestions and corrections, the overarching beauty of working in a group. I also happened to have led in one of our group reflections on Social justice and equity. I also actively participated in two very successful sensitization programmes.

From the forgoing as narrated above, those are obviously recipes for the change I wanted to achieve. As expected, the feedback I receive from group members on the Yumba project as well as other volunteers on another project with whom I live in a house attest to the fact that I am moving along the desired trajectory. Overall, my participation on the ICS programme enabled me to have a giant leap, culminating into multifaceted positive changes.

Me talking to a class about what causes Intellectual Disabilities
It is also instructive to state that, the changes talked about are outcomes of experiences I had on the Yumba project. Outstanding among these include the ability of my team to establish contact with Awaawaa2, a charity organization based in Accra that has agreed to train some staff of the Yumba Special School on speech therapy. The excitement derives not only from the fact that the school is close to getting an expertise they need badly, but also on the sustainability of the process when it is executed since the school will not have to go round looking for such a specialist.

To conclude, although the paramount motivation for applying to volunteer with the ICS programme was to contribute in efforts towards changing the plight of the less privileged in our societies, the facts as stated above which have brought me closer to my personal dream attest to the fact that we are the true beneficiaries of the good we offer others. Lets endeavour to support the marginalised.