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Story, A Transformative Moment: How an African Leader Educates!

March 28, 2012

In his book, A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink wrote that story is a powerful way for people to learn.  Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, weaves a powerful story about unleashing the intellectual and leadership capacity of young girls.  Her story, and those of other women she has touched, illustrates how the passion of people can move mountains and change cultures.

Listen to her peaceful, emotional and uplifting voice tell her story.

There are many gems in her short, captivating talk that struck a chord in me.  Here is the first:

Globally we have policies, international instruments, world leaders, great people who have made a commitment to protect our children from want and fear.  The UN has the convention on the Rights of the Child, American has No Child Left Behind….  All of these great work by great people aimed at getting young people to where we want them to be has failed.

Through her travels in Africa and beyond, she sees the challenges we face globally to protect, nurture and educate our children.  She helped me see the challenges we face, especially making space for young women to grow to their full potential, through  the images she painted in my minds eye.  However, she also provides a personal vision for how we can close the gap and she is living her own vision.

Ms. Gbowee is the founder of the Young Girls Transformative Project and a leader of the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace project.  Here is another beautiful quote that resonated with me as she describes their work in communities in Africa.

We go into rural communities and all we do is to create space for these young girls.  When these girls sit, you unlock intelligence, you unlock passion, you unlock commitment, you unlock focus, and you unlock leadership.

She shares her story about a mother of four children who finds her way through all these challenges to make a difference in the lives of other young girls in her African community.

The dream of the African girl is to:

Says Leymah!  My wish is to be educated.  And if I can’t be educated when I see some of my sisters being educated then my wish is fulfilled.  I wish for a better life, I wish for food for my children, and I wish that sexual abuse of children in schools be stopped.  This is the dream of an African girl.

This is her final request of those listening to her story.  She doesn’t have much to ask of us.

Will you journey with me to help that girl, be it an African girl, or an American girl or a Japanese girl fulfill her wish, fulfill her dream, achieve that dream.  Because all of these great innovators and inventors that we have talked to, and seen over the last few day, are sitting in tiny corners in different parts of the world and all they are asking us to do is create the space to unlock the intelligence, unlock the passion, unlock all the great things they hold within themselves.  Let’s journey together.  Let’s journey together.

I love her call to action through these inspiring words.  I hope they inspire you as well.

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