Friday, 11 August 2017


Team NFED and Team TradeAID - Upper East Region, Ghana
(Picture by Emilio Dellanzo)
International Youth Day 2017 is dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace. The process of social inclusion for youth, including participation in decision-making as well as access to quality education, health care and basic services promotes their role as active contributors to society and affords young people with opportunities to reach their potential and achieve their goals.

Today we celebrate Youth, and how young people have the potential to change their present and future for the better. Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes. You don’t have to be born rich, super intelligent or beautiful to inspire, you just have to believe in yourself and follow your dreams.
Allow me to share a brief piece of one of my favourite inspiring books:

The preparation was complete, so I waited. The muscles in my arms still burned from having worked so hard, but now I was finished. The machinery was bolted and secured. The tower was steady and unmoving under the weight of twisted steel and plastic. Looking at it now, it appeared exactly as it was – something out of a dream.
News of the machine had spread to the villages, and people were starting to arrive. The traders spotted it from their stalls and packed up their things. The truckers left their vehicles along the roads. Everyone walked into the valley, and now gathered in its shadow. I recognized these faces. Some of these people had mocked me for months, and still they whispered, even laughed. More of them were coming. It was time.
Balancing the small reed and wires in my left hand, I used the other to pull myself onto the tower’s first rung. The soft wood groaned under my weight, and the compound fell silent. I continued to climb, slowly and assuredly, until I was facing the machine’s crude frame. Its plastic arms were burned and blackened, its metal bones bolted and welded into place. I paused and studied the flecks of rust and paint, how they appeared against the fields and mountains beyond. Each piece told its own tale of discovery, of being lost and found in a time of hardship and fear. Finally together now, we were all being reborn.
Two wires dangled from the heart of the machine and gently danced in the breeze. I knotted their frayed ends together with the wires that sprouted off the reed, just as I’d always pictured. Down below, the crowd cackled like a gang of birds.
“Quiet down,” someone said. “Let’s see how crazy this boy really is.”
A sudden gust muffled the voices below, then picked up into a steady wind. It took hold of my T-shirt and whistled through the tower rungs. Reaching over, I removed a bent piece of wire that locked the machine’s spinning wheel in place. Once released, the wheel and arms began to turn. They spun slowly at first, then faster and faster, until the force of their motion rocked the tower. My knees buckled, but I held on.
Don’t let me down.
I gripped the reed and wires and waited for the miracle. Finally it came, at first a tiny light flickered from my palm, then a surging magnificent glow. The crowd gasped and shuddered. The children pushed for a better look.
“It’s true!” someone said.
“Yes,” said another. “The boy has done it.”

(W. Kamkwamba & Bryan Mealer, 2009, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Harper Collins)

William Kamkwanba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger. But William had read about windmills, and he dreamed of building one that would bring to his small village a set of luxuries that only 2 percent of Malawians could enjoy: electricity and running water. His neighbours called him misala-crazy-but William refused to let go of his dreams. With a small pile of once-forgotten science textbooks; some scrap metal, tractor parts and bicycle halves; and an armoury of curiosity and determination, he embarked on a daring plan to forge an unlikely contraption and small miracle that would change the lives around him.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a book on the remarkable true story of a young boy who was denied the privilege of going to school, but refused to give up on his dreams. Written by William Kamkwamba himself and Bryan Mealer, it is a story that will inspire anyone to believe in their ability to better the lives of those around them and make a lasting impact.

William Kamkwamba is a perfect example of how young minds, who still have the courage to believe and chase their dreams, can change the world for the better. This book has been an inspiration to me and reminds me every day of how our greatest challenges are also our biggest blessings in disguise.
As a Team Leader in Ghana, working in an unfamiliar environment, managing a team of individuals from a mix of diverse cultures and backgrounds, challenges are inevitable. Rather than see these as obstacles, however, I have chosen to see these as opportunities for me to develop my leadership skills, thus improve my own personal development.

And the best part about being a Team Leader, thus having to constantly monitor the progress of team, is that I get to clearly see how everyone in the team grows and develops over time. Sometimes I see it before they even do, which I can’t help but smile at. I have witnessed communication skills, computer skills, research and reporting skills, presentation skills, cross cultural learning skills and teaching skills all improve drastically within the team over the last 5 weeks, and this excites me because it reminds me every day that this will have an enormous impact on the lives of those we work with here in Ghana, but also on their own lives and futures. And that is exactly why we celebrate International Youth Day, because what we do whilst we are young, will determine who we become in the future and the world we will live in.

Written by: Emilio Dellanzo (NFED- KUMBUNGU Team leader)

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