Stories from Africa
I come from Nigeria and my greatest learning from the IMAGINE Program was discovering my power and my dreams in the Empowerment Workshop’s seven areas of life: emotions, relationships, sexuality, body, money, work, and spirituality.
This has been so transformative for me. I have also learned that I am not alone and that I have wonderful IMAGINE colleagues around the globe to help make my dreams come true.
The effect of the Empowerment Workshop on the lives of my participants was tremendous. I will just give you the comments of the few of them to let you see this. One of the women commented after the workshop “Now I know I am not a nonentity. I have several potentials in me which I really need to explore deeply.” Another man commented, “This workshop is important for us Nigerian men because it will help us to develop our dreams which can then reduce our frustrations which often causes us to be violent with our wives.” Both myself along with one of the participants were patients of the cardiology clinic and we were on drugs for blood pressure. After my first workshop we have both stopped our drugs and our blood pressure keeps on improving. It is not that we are richer or that the pressures that landed us in the hospital have been removed, but we have been empowered to take life as it comes and take good care of our body to be able to move on in life.
Since the Institute I have built a very good relationship with my family and those around me. I am much more patient with them. I have learned to take good care of my body, exercise, eat good food, and relax. Before I never cared for myself and that was the reason for my high blood pressure. I have grown to please my husband more sexually and to feel more fulfilled myself. I have become a leader in my community to the extent that every fortnight I speak with a hundred or more women. This work has giving me so much confidence in myself that I know I will make my dream of The Women’s Inspiration Center a reality. As a Guidance Counselor in one of the leading universities in Nigeria, I have become a much more effective and empowering guide for my clients.
This Empowerment Workshop is important to Nigerian women because it really helps them make the changes they need in their lives; changes in the area of their health, their quality of life, and their self-esteem. Through the four steps of the empowerment methodology women discover themselves and come to deeply believe that they can actually make their dreams come true. If more women have access to the Empowerment Workshop we can develop many more women leaders in our communities.
My plan is to give the Empowerment Workshop for one hundred Nigerian women in the coming year. Several of the top women who have already been through the workshop with me will become my team. If we get funding we will send them to be in the Empowerment Institute. After two years of doing the Empowerment Workshops the impact will be clear so that our work will be well funded by government and individuals. Our team will lead the workshop across Nigeria and touch the lives of many people.
My greatest learning in the Empowerment Institute was that if one follows the methodology and brings your utmost authenticity it is guaranteed to work. I have learned how to apply the methodology to unlock negative or unutilized energy in individuals.
For my Empowerment Workshops I chose participants who I knew personally. I knew that I was taking a risk of not being taken seriously. All the participants found that the Empowerment Workshop brought new consciousness about things that were holding them back without their knowing. They wanted more and more of this work and interaction. Those who could get books went through them and are still following the exercises.
The program has empowered me to look back on my personal and professional life and see what I could have done differently. I am able to support my husband better as he is going through his own professional challenges. I am also able to guide my grown up children better. Most importantly I have always found myself in the role of helping women in distress but I had no effective tools to really guide them. This program provides me with the tools I need.
South Africa has long recognized the value of women in all spheres of life and has provided an enabling environment in the form of policies and other programs. There is a critical mass of women both black and white who are highly educated and who are looking to make a meaningful contribution in the lives of others but they lack motivation and know how. I intend to work with such women to unlock their passion and energy because this will result in many women being empowered through the empowerment methodology. This will also be a way of mobilizing and supporting other women especially in the area of enterprise development.
Wawa Alice Nomvuyiso Damane
The Empowerment Institute helped me develop my self-worth through learning to make my dreams clearer. Through the empowerment tools, I now have a compelling vision for my life and my work. And I have no doubt these visions will come to fruition. I have always known that I am a transformational leader whose passion is change management. The Empowerment Institute has not just affirmed that, but also energized me. I am committed to live my life to the fullest because of the empowerment work. Remember, “If you are not growing you are dying,” and I am certainly growing because I now continuously find myself with new growing edges.
The participants I worked with are thirsty for more because they realized that this empowerment work is unique. They all want to bring more friends, family, and colleagues through the process. They saw that the Empowerment Workshop unlocks the potential that has been there but not realized because of limiting beliefs. The methodology is so profound that participants cannot stop the fire that runs through their body and the eagerness to share this information with others.
The program is very important to South Africa for several reasons. It empowers leaders and sharpens their leadership qualities and motivation to improve our society. It can be used to instill within organizational cultures a compelling vision and the tools to implement it. And in the development microfinance environment, where I will apply it, the Empowerment Workshop will support women to see that “they can” achieve their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs.
I intend to sponsor my daughter for next year’s Empowerment Institute. I also hope that my colleague who is a leader at SAMAF (South African Microfinance) will be able to attend.
Resiliency Network, South Africa
In the Empowerment Workshop I felt safe in sharing my most inner thoughts and fears and this does not come easy for me. Only my closest family knows my deepest fears. I felt comfort in knowing deep down we are the same . . . from wanting to be loved and cherished to wanting to be successful in money and work matters.
Since the Empowerment Workshop my relationship with my family has improved. I am able to share my thoughts and feelings about difficult issues. More important, I can be honest with my family without feeling bad. And they can share their feelings with me without worrying that I will feel offended. My relationship with my father has also improved and we can now have a decent conversation without my resenting him for his past mistakes. I gave him a chance to explain his behavior and this allowed me to see things from his position.
During the Empowerment Workshop, something dramatic happened to me. I acquired the personal power to break out of my limitations. I now believe that there is no limitation to my dreams. The shackles and limitations of my mind were destroyed. I can now see my life the way I want it.
“I cannot describe what I have achieved in the Empowerment Workshop, as mere words will not do it justice. I realized that I am not the only one in the world with pain. I became aware of the fact that my pain was all the items that I had placed in my “black box” and never dealt with. I had to take a journey of self-discovery and open that black box and face my pain. But this time I had the power within me as I realized that I was creating my own suffering because of my negative self-talk.
“I learned to forgive and let go of my anger. And I learned that I cannot conquer that which I cannot face. Now I know that I am worthy and deserve all the happiness I have in my life. I can honestly say that the Empowerment Workshop was both a life-saving and a life-changing experience for me.
Feedback from Lullu Tshiwula
Now That You Have Been Empowered
By Kenechukwu Ikebuaku
So much has been learned
So much has been gleaned
But even much has been invested into you
It’s been exhilarating
It’s been enlightening
But it has also been instructive
Let me take a second to appreciate the charming princess who toured and traveled
Thinking to enrich her life with the invaluable treasure of wisdom
Little did she know that her candlelight will yet brighten the face of many
Permit me to appreciate the sons and daughters of the King who felt that they deserve more
Loathing all forms of mediocrity, they have come in search of greater knowledge
Abhorring hacking with common utensils, they have come to gain proven utensils
Here you are today, having new secrets at your fingertip
And here you are today, having new strategies at your disposal
But remember that hearing and learning is wasteful without application
And that Knowing is none and void without doing
Much has been invested in you
Therefore much is required of you
So let the light shine beyond the boundaries of your habitations
For to whom much is given, much is required
One note of caution though
When in the deep, you begin to sail
Don’t expect the storms to hide its ugly face
Neither wish death to the billows of the dreadful ocean
For the waves and billows will yet roar
And the ferocious storms will yet rise
But remember that you have been empowered to conquer
And you have been enriched to reign
So that when the billows roll
When the ferocious storm roars
You’ve got to roll out the knowledge of victory you have acquired
Administer same with courage and tenacity
And see yourself docking at the harbor of destiny
And so should you forget all else
Never forget this eternal truth
You are born to win
You are made to manifest
And you are designed for distinction
Marefat High School and Marefat Civic Capacity Building Organization
Abantu for Development Ghana
Gender Center for Empowering Development (GenCED)
Mentoring Women Ghana
Solidaridad West Africa
Sanja Women’s Group
ESVAK Community Development
Women’s Inspiration Center
Women Initiative for Sustainable Environment (WISE)
Girls Voices Intitiative
Saheli HIV/AIDS Karyakarta Sangh
Queen Rania Award for Excellence in Education
High Atlas Foundation