Twenty youth from Family of Hope Services spent five days learning life-changing values and skills to develop their leadership potential. These youth attended a workshop hosted by two facilitators from The Cleft Trust, Dion Kandima and Brian Mulipah, at the Hodygos Training Centre about 60 kilometres outside of Windhoek. They were subjected to a host of challenging activities, talks, and a rigorous program.
“One of the many lessons our kids learned at the camp was that you need to be strong about yourself in order to be a good leader,” says Foibe Silvanus, Programme Coordinator with Family of Hope Services. “This includes knowing that you can do better even with the limited resources you might have when you live in poverty,” says Foibe. “Our children need to be able to look inside and not think ‘poor’ but to know they can take on any challenge they meet. This means working very hard at everything so they can succeed,” says Foibe.
And the kids at the camp worked very hard. At the heart of their activities they explored their life stories with the counselors and reflected upon the things that hurt them the most. One-on-one counseling was provided but group discussions also helped participants learn how to probe and explore the roots of their behaviours so they can deal with their problems. This type of personal development is key to believing in oneself.
They also learned about teamwork, rights, characteristics of champions, relationships and boundaries, conflict resolution, and communication and trust. One of the biggest lessons many of the youth came away with was learning how to select the right people to trust in. As Charity Salomo put it, “Sometimes if you keep your troubles in your heart it can keep you down. You need to get rid of the burden. Learning how to test people to see if you can share with them is very important,” she says. “It is important to share with people who raise you up and not those who put you down, so you gain confidence in yourself.”
Charity also learned that it is important to be able to accept being corrected and to not get angry when you make a mistake. “You need to know where you are wrong so that you can change and improve,” says Charity.
Tobias Shikale, another youth leader who participated in the camp, said he realized that he was always influencing others, no matter what his actions were; whether he was doing good or bad. The workshop has made him much more aware of his behaviour and to be conscious at all times of what he is passing on to others and the consequences. “Sometimes I would do things that were not very good but I thought I was being funny,” says Tobias. “I’ve learned now that a leader is a person with the right values to influence others; someone who is responsible and who encourages others to do good. Not all will follow, but some will,” says Tobias.
And Daniel Immanuel felt the workshop made a big difference in his life. “I learned not to give up. Whatever you are struggling with, maybe it is a subject in school, for example, you shouldn’t quit,” says Daniel Immanual. “Even if you want to quit, you should go get help instead. We’ve been given a chance and if we give up we might never have that chance again and then we’ll blame ourselves,” he says.
These are all solid values for the FHS youth to practice to become better leaders. Since attending the camp they see themselves not only as being responsible for their own self-growth but also for leading the rest of the children at the FHS centre to grow as well.
When asked what makes a good leader, Daniel said, “You must respect yourself first, show love to others, give good examples in how you act and in how you teach others, don’t give up, and know that you’ll always need to carry your burdens with you but you need to learn how to do that.”
Charity said, “You must be a committed, loving person and honest in whatever you are doing, treat people with dignity and kindness and always be punctual.” She also said a leader must, “Listen to others and work as a team because sometimes one person’s idea is not enough.”
Tobias says, “A leader is a person with the right values to influence others… values that are motivating and encourage people to do good. A leader knows how to handle his problems, not to get angry, and to get help from people who have positive ideas,” he says.
Foibe, a very influential leader in the lives of the youth, concludes, “Being a leader is not simple – you have to believe in yourself, stand firm, work hard so others know you can handle anything that comes your way, trust yourself but you don’t have to trust everyone, don’t think for others but rather help them to figure things out for themselves, and know how to care for others.”