#LEAPISPARTOFMYSTORY: Ekene Onyiuke

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I lived the early years of my life inside my head. I was timid and afraid of people.

I had panic attacks anytime I was spoken to and was expected to respond. However, I would try to respond by using different gestures to communicate my thoughts. This went on even through secondary school where I slowly started coming out of my shell.

In the university, a classmate whom I usually bought inspirational magazines from, told me about a programme that he had been through and said he’d like to nominate me for the next one. I agreed, not thinking much of it. Later, he gave me a nomination form to fill. I did and that’s how it all began.

In 2007/2008 during the long vacation,  I attended LEAP Africa’s Youth Leadership Programme (YLP) and my life has never been the same. I became unafraid, connected to my inner self, became aware of my strengths and weaknesses and accepted myself. I began to gradually move towards self knowledge and self disclosure. It also opened my eyes to see that I could accomplish anything, once I set my mind to it and keep working at it. I crafted a mission statement, set my goals and committed to living them daily.

I nursed a deep compassion for the less privileged, especially orphans. Growing up, I visited a lot of orphanages and would find myself worrying and wishing I could do more to change their situation. Therefore, choosing a change project was a bit easy as I had been consumed by compassion for orphans. So during the programme, I teamed up with a fellow beneficiary and we decided to rehabilitate an orphanage set up by the government in my home state. We faced a lot of challenges but we were very passionate about the project that the South-East YLP Alumni body adopted it as the project of the year, and with their help it was a huge success. Accomplishing that gave my confidence a huge boost. When LEAP Africa’s Leadership, Ethics and Civics (LEC) Programme was introduced, I volunteered as a facilitator in one of the pilot schools in Awka (Anambra State). I became uncompromising about my values, goals, and determined to live out my purpose.

In 2009 I earned my degree and enrolled into Alliance Francaise Enugu, where I learned French and Spanish. Service year was great. I was in Kano and trained about 50 young girls to be peer educators for HIV/AIDS. I moved to Abuja in 2011 to start my first job with SAMSUNG and later left for Diamond Bank Plc in 2013. When I got married and gave birth to my daughter, I resigned and started my own company. I’m also a volunteer for the on-going LEAP Africa iLEAD Program for public secondary schools in Abuja.

LEAP Africa came into my life at a crucial time and prepared me for the world. I find myself unconsciously living out all that knowledge wherever I find myself.

#LEAPISPARTOFMYSTORY

Have you attended our programmes? Do you have an inspiring story to share? Send an email to info@leapafrica.org. We’ll love to hear from you.

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