‘LEAP’ ORGANIZATION : AGENT OF CHANGE IN AFRICA
Denise Gray –Felder- (Rockefeller Foundation), in his foreword to’’ Making Waves’’ writes, ’’Capturing the essence of participatory communication on paper is by definition an elusive challenge. From the work I’ve witnessed, helped direct, or just monitored during a long career in communication, my observation is that most interesting work of participatory nature can often defy the written word. That is, when reasonably talented writers or public speakers try to explain what it is about this work, that is so captivating- and has the potential to so dramatically improves lives-their words fall flat’’.
I n line with what Denise said above, words are absolutely inadequate to express what a non-governmental organization in Africa ‘LEAP’ is doing in empowering people living in poor communities across Nigeria- to seize control of their own life stories and begin to change their circumstances of ignorance, ecological degradation, and exclusion. Youth and adults are exposed to training which include life and employability skill development, personal and organizational leadership, governance, business ethics, succession planning, talent management and organization management among others.
Leadership, Effectiveness, Accountability and Professionalism (LEAP) Africa was established in 2002 as a non-profit organization committed to developing dynamic, innovative and principled African leaders. I t has dedicated its efforts to working with visionary youths, business owners and social entrepreneurs and over the years, LEAP has inspired and equipped its beneficiaries to lead ethically while implementing positive changes that transform their communities and organizations, thereby sustaining livelihood and contributing to national developments.
PROGRAMMES EXECUTED: LEADERSHIP, ETHICS AND CIVICS (LEC)
LEAP in 2008 introduced the Leadership, Ethics and Civics (LEC) programme in select public Secondary Schools to equip students with the skills and tools that they needed to cope with life’s challenges and serve as change agents in their local communities. It took off initially in Anambra,Lagos,and Ogun states through the support of NOKIA and International Youth Foundation, and was extended to Edo and Taraba states in 2010 with funding from T .Y. Danjuma Foundation.
I n 2012, 2,132 student beneficiaries of the LEC program implemented 50 social change projects in Anambra, Lagos, and Ogun States. The projects which were implemented by students in groups are indigenous and germane to the respective communities to solve local problems in their immediate environments. These students utilized the newly acquired knowledge from the LEC programme such as self confidence, effective communication and fund raising.
Through these projects, the students from the participating schools in Anambra, Lagos and Ogun States have been able to positively impacted 20,000 community members.
For example in Anambra state, the project was: ’’Taking Back my Environment,’’ executed by community Secondary School Umuokpu. The challenge undertaking in this state was erosion which was a cankerworm that has adversely affected the environment, lives and properties of the residents of Umuokpu community. The projects were to check and control the erosion at the record time. To check the adverse effect of this erosion to the lives and property of the Umuokpu community, the LEC students of Community Secondary school partnered with the Anambra State Ministry of Environment and members of the Umuokpu Community.
The Ministry of Environment sponsored the purchase of 140 plants seedlings (80 tea plants, 20 palm trees, 20 ogbono trees and 20 bread fruit trees) Members of the community assisted the students in locating the erosion site and engaged labourers to clear the site after which the seedlings were planted on site. This project, at the developed stage would impact an estimated 150 family’s lives and property in about 140 buildings close to the erosion site. They would be secured when the trees are grown and erosion controlled. It will also provide employment and food overtime as the trees would grow to provide food.
The sustainability of the project is assured as the community is actively involved in nurturing the trees planted to grow properly to make for effective reforestation, check and eliminate erosion.
Also, the families living close to the project site are committed to erecting structures to ward against hazards.
Without any gainsaying, LEAP has been saturating Africa nay, Nigeria with its numerous programmes of change. It will be more rewarding if other non-profit organizations in Africa, and Nigeria in particular, take a cue from this to make our society a better place to live and make our restless youths duly engaged in positive ventures, since an idle hand is the devil’s workshop.
By- Idowu J.A.