Sunday was selected to be one of the Key note speakers alongside Ms. Doreen Kesey of Ubongo kids from Tanzania. He spoke to the East Africa fellows alumni, key funders and friends of acumen.org on the topic “HOW I KEPT RESILIENCE AND GRIT DURING MY FELLOWSHIP JOURNEY AND MY WORK AS A FELLOW”
Below is Sunday’s talk.
MY TALK AT THE ACUMEN EAST AFRICA 2018 GRADUATION AND ACUMEN EAST AFRICA FELLOWS GATHERING.
Persons of eminence, all protocol observed, ladies & gentlemen!
I am Sunday Asau, a 2018 fellow from Arua, Uganda proud to share with you HOW I KEPT RESILIENCE AND GRIT DURING THE FELLOWSHIP AND MY WORK AS A FELLOW.Kindly allow me repeat: from Arua-Uganda.
Perhaps it’s befitting to start from the beginning. I had just recovered from two years of depression following the crush of a multi million investment, my all time achievement and life security I arrived at after life had presented me with difficult childhood due to poverty.
The last question put to me during the Acumen selection conference was, “What do you want from this fellowship?” Exposure and a Challenge was my answer! Indeed during the journey I got the earlier in suffice and the later in abundance because I found myself in this sea of extraordinary thinkers, orators, people who were quite far away from me.
Oh boy, kwisha mimi? I freaked out! So how did I show up?
I developed tough minded optimism: – I accepted that there are times you simply have to go through the fire to get what you want conscious that you are also not there by chance but deservance. So decided to keep my lane during the course, never allowed myself to be destructed by what is happening in other peoples’ lanes. In life, everyone has a lane, always keep yours with discipline.
Because of this journey and my work generally I have come to define Courage as “not the absence of fear but not letting fear stop you”. Ladies and gentlemen, if you ever passed through my life situations and faced the challenges I have had to encounter at work, like having to stay in the bush day and night without food because the refugees we are supporting drove us out of the settlement following a riot. How about the un easy relationship between the government and Civil society where at times you get spied on especially if you make some critical pronouncements in defense of the people. Because of these and more, I have had to delete fear from my dictionary in order to move on. It gives me the ambition to learn at the edge, the wisdom to admit failure, and the courage to reset after failure.
Lastly I have learnt to stick to the higher purpose by consciously weighing the short term gains against long term losses. It helps me to derive purpose for my work and values to guide commitment to my work.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am acutely aware that many in here and out there have gone or are going through the same. It could be material poverty, poverty of thought or poverty of emotion in the face of failure and challenge. For me these experiences challenged me to build a life of meaning with a sense of commitment to stand with the poor and leave a better world through alleviating poverty. This became the identity I chose over what I was oriented to become in life i.e. a Nurse.
Today I now know that poverty is not a question of lack of, believe me the poor have the resources, ideas and power to transform themselves and are working towards that except they are constrained and vulnerable. So to achieve sustainable development, programming must be designed to respond to the wishes of the community and the communities should plan, be in charge and fully contribute to the program.
My organization, VISION FOR HUMANITY has designed a model that harnesses rural ideas, innovation and investment. It places community interests and ingenuity at the center. It unlocks community potentials to co create change that they fully own and lead. It restores human rights, health, education, livelihoods, people and environment.
Dear friends, fellows, supporters, I invite you to our space. Support us, let’s share knowledge and experiences, let’s replicate this model to co-create sustainable development around the world.
As for me, an Acumen EA 2018 fellow, I commit to maintaining the spirit of leadership to ignite transformational change in the communities. Fellow fellows, as we receive our certificates this evening what is printed on the front of the certificate is Acumen written unto us, the blank page behind is for us to write Acumen in our communities. Once a fellow, always a fellow.
Thankyou very much and God bless you!
Dear Acumen Fellows Class of 2018,
Here are my personal messages to you:
- Doreen: You wear your heart on your sleeve – your authenticity is infectious. Don’t ever let that change. You bring joy to the world just by being you.
- Joshwa: Your quiet strength is full of conviction – what you have built is just the beginning, and the way you have made your past challenges a mission is inspirational for all of us.
- Mandela: Mandela you say you like structure, yet I see so much heart – you can have the perfect balance of head and heart that can be transformational to any endeavor you choose.
- Sunday: Despite so many challenging situations thrown your way, you have been a teacher to me – with your steadfast goodness and unending commitment to humanity,
- Sam: I applaud you on your effort to take on the change within yourself that you accepted was needed. You have showed immense courage Sam – you were already a formidable leader – imagine where this effort to change will take you…
- Noeline: You are a natural mentor who without even realizing takes everyone under your wing –with your natural warmth and sharp mind, you are impacting more than you realize.
- Zahara: And you are a natural nurturer. Its been heartening to see you reclaim your freedom and your true self which makes you such a power house – wishing you all the best!
- Iregi: I see how deeply you care about everyone you touch – you keep it quiet, but we can still see through your amazing-ness…
- Egide: you stand out in courage and tenacity – with your mischievous smile and pure spirit, there is only positive energy flowing from you.
- Solomon: You are earnest to everything you do, whether it’s a conversation, a commitment you make or your work. You are always looking to solve the problem, whatever that may be. We are all lucky to have you in our life.
- Pauline: You cannot even see what we see – your strength and resilience even when you think you are down, is a guiding light for others. You should be proud of coming out stronger each time you are faced with a challenge.
- Hakim: You embody the spirit of forgiveness and generosity, what a heart – and what a smile – there is no adversity that can get the better of you.
- Ephrem: You don’t speak often but when you do, it is with subtle authority and deep thoughtfulness. You have a courageous heart that allows you to step up and inspire others to follow.
- Amnah: you shine with that extra bounce in your step – your commanding presence has become even stronger through the year. Thank you for letting all of us be part of your journey.
- Ebrahim: It is rare to see a giving spirit like yours. And you do it so quietly. Thank you for your generosity throughout this year.
- Mohamad (MO): your unending curiosity allows you to ask questions that are unique – and has taken our discussions into new areas, where everyone has learnt. Its been a gift for all of us. Keep asking.
- Rachael:Rachel you are a rare combination of fierceness and compassion – the conviction you hold will always help you to deliver on your commitments.
- Everlyne:We’ve seen come out on the other side of adversity so muchstronger, more successful, and full of gratitude. Your humility and quiet strength make you invincible as a leader.
- Eunice: I would love to be on team Eunice – because I know it will be inspiring and full of fun – even when the going gets tough. your “Can do” spirit draws us all…
- Catherine – you have the smarts and you speak your truth – never hold back from that – no matter how hard it is…it’s what makes you unique.
You all represent what is good and right in this world!
Individually your dreams are compelling – collectively you can change the world!
Congratulations to all of you for completing your first year. And here’s to the start of a lifelong journey of Fellowship.
With Love & Gratitude,
Saima, Associate Director Acumen EA