It was just another day when twenty-three year old Lola (not her real name), was asked by a doctor to go and fetch her sick mother’s hospital card. On her way to the hospital, something moved her to read what was on the card. What she saw changed her life forever- Her mother was HIV positive and kept it a secret for years!
Lola became very confused, and upon reaching the hospital, she asked to be tested. When the result came, it shattered her world – She, her four month old baby, and her mother, were all found to be HIV positive. Upon hearing this, her boyfriend abandoned her.
For an unemployed, unmarried new mother in a place like Nigeria, this was the ultimate death sentence. Lola became depressed and developed hatred for her mother.
Lola has carried this hate in her heart for years. But thankfully today, there is hope for her and people with similar broken spirits because of a programme called ‘Mentor Them…Make Them (Mt2)’, organized by Young Protege Leadership Academy in Nigeria.This programme picks ordinary and heartbroken people and raises, motivates, and inspires them to become trans-generational leaders.
Since 2011, Michael ‘Toby’ Oluwatobiloba Akinnike, founder and Team Leader of Young Protégé Leadership Academy, has taken it upon himself to touch lives with this MT2 programme.
Thankfully, his effort is paying off. Last year, of the 20 teenagers who participated in the MT2 programme, five are now university students, and another five are currently serving as school prefects or student government representatives.
On the back of such success, this year’s edition has just been announced.The 2015 Mentor Them…Make Them (MT²) will be a weekend mentoring program where facilitators engage participants on topics like personal talent discovery, leadership, success habits, academic success, sex, and reproductive health. It will happen at the Wholistic Home, Loburo, Mowe, Ogun, Nigeria.
The choice of venue is symbolic. Wholistic home is a shelter for ex-trafficked girls, sexually abused girls, and girls in other forms of distress. It is a non-governmental organization founded by Pastor (Mrs.) Folu Adeboye, the wife of the general overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
Toby’s motivations are personal. He himself is no stranger to heartbreak- “When I lost my father, I lost direction for my life and my sense of purpose. It was volunteering and committing myself to the service of others as a community organizer that helped me find myself” he recounts.
In working to touch people’s lives, Toby is on the rise. He has received a certificate from the commissioner for works in Lagos State, and was selected to participate in the US Embassy- GhanaThink Foundation’s Techcamp West Africa. At the last event, Toby interacted with US Ambassador to Ghana, Gene Cretz.
Those successes encourage him to be more passionate about the continent.
“The problem of our families, communities, society, churches, mosques, country and continent is that we have many sick and bad heads or leaders. As soon as we cure or change all these heads, the other parts of the body will start functioning well” he states.
According to Toby, there is a need to build a large community of change-minded people who know they are leaders wherever they find themselves. We should also start thinking in a trans-generational dimension because Africa’s problem might not be solved in one generation.
“This is why we are passionate in raising, mentoring and inspiring excellent and exemplary leaders for the present and future generations” he ended.
This year’s edition, the 2015 edition of Mentor Them…Make Them (Mt²) will happen at the Wholistic Home, Loburo, Mowe, Ogun, Nigeria from Friday 21st August to 12th September, 2015. Individuls and groups who want to support this project can contact the Team Lead on +234 810 428 0304 or email: youngprotegeleadershipacademy [at] gmail.com.