We are looking forward to speaking at three important events. We will share more about our vision and what we do as we connect with friends, family and community members. Our goal will be to build the partnerships and acquire the finances necessary to empower our mission.
You are invited to listen and partner with us in our mission to serve children and youth living in disadvantaged and vulnerable conditions.
Background & Explanation
“Future of Africa” is a community of people providing food, education, and healthcare for children and youth living in the streets of Accra, Ghana. Over the last two years we have developed relationships with over 100 street children and we have started to understand their harsh realities. While these kids are forced to be resilient and resourceful, they remain extremely vulnerable. Part of our long-term plan is to invest in their well-being by providing them with a safe space, caring friendship and education.
We have a big vision for we desire to see our kids become thriving and contributing citizens in their world. We are seeking people to partner us; to bring their expertise and financial resources. Our plans include opening a community center in downtown Accra where kids can be kids and where we will run numerous programs and where mentoring relationships will be developed. Our vision also includes a fully operational school in a rural village where our kids will transition and access education. This stage of our development has a fundraising goal of $80,000.
It was the last place I wanted to be.
Whenever it had come up in conversation, I would always tell people that I had never had to spend a night in the hospital. I would say it with that false sense of pride that comes with believing it had more to do with some exaggerated inner strength than just simple luck.
And yet there I was, in a hospital bed with an I.V drip in my arm, right where I had been for the past four nights. That false sense of pride finally, and rightfully, shattered.
We seldom hear from them. They provide immense insight, vision, effective strategies, investment and even perspectives from all angles. Who are these people? They are simply the ones who work behind the scenes. In other cultures, their name varies but in our context, their title is board director.
In this Championing Change entry, we will focus on David Marshall, CEO of MarshallZehr Real Estate Capital and also a member of the Board for Life Change Adventures (LCA).
David, a man of Faith, alluded to the fact that he is fortunate to not only be able to incite change on the economic foundational landscape at both the micro and macro levels but also in the lives of people, students in particular. “The change I am focus on is using my abilities to work with students and developing a personal faith in Jesus Christ while learning how to use their faith in whatever field they choose. We live in a time where students from diverse backgrounds come to Canada to study and we can meet, interact and build relationships with these people.” A part from his work with Life Change Adventures, David also invests his time, knowledge, and wisdom in providing mentorship as he believes that mentorship can significantly aid character development especially when centered on scripture and its teachings. A recipient of high quality mentorship himself, Dave admitted that he does not see people as projects, “I just want to be their friends. It’s all about relationships.”
In response to the question about his views on what LCA has accomplished and could do going forward, Dave did not hold back. He noted that the selfless approach of the volunteers and staff can be attributed to the Christian faith roots of LCA which are taken from scripture; to serve others and care for the needy is commendable and has replicable qualities. He feels that the efforts of the organization could be maximized if more funding was possible and so, acknowledged the operational need for the division of LCA into two facets which would improve funding access.
I could not resist but ask what was unique about the way LCA does things. There are thousands of charitable organizations which share similar principles so what makes this one special? I thought. “I think it is the people that have brought LCA together; it’s a very grass-root. There is a unique theme is a very specific community and they truly care for everyone in that community. Despite the facts that the leaders have Christian based principles, they are well respected and everyone knows that there is deep care. It’s different from other organizations that jump in, do an event then leave. It’s that this organization has become a part of the DNA of the Sunnydale community. Schools see tremendous value. It’s not about money. You know something is successful when so many people wanting to volunteer. Another thing, it’s not about the leadership which is unique. It’s there to train and equip youth leaders and just provide help when they need it. That’s how you let a leader lead.”
Introspectively, Dave went on to state, “As a student, I was mentored by the leadership of LCA. I believe so much of what they are doing to now. It’s a part of my life. The whole DNA of equipping youth people in their own context is what happened to me. I am still mentored by Jeremy and I value him. That mentorship allowed me to mentor others which is like the passing of the torch per se.”
As it is my natural proclivity, I inquired about his thoughts, ideas and advice to youth with potential. He made it concise, digestible and lucid. “Go to people doing a very good job and ask how you can be involved, learn, be equipped and find your vision.”
David Marshall, member of the LCA Board and a firm proponent of mentorship.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of good and simple honesty. When people are lucky enough to hear stories of inspiration and/or meet individuals who are creating a beneficial pathway for others; one of the pivotal points of curiosity is, “How did you start doing this?” I do not know about you but I want unfiltered, unpurified and uncontaminated probity. Is it that you were born with the intrinsic desire to help others or is there something else?
I was greatly appreciative when she said how she started out which confirmed my theory, that she is human like you and I. She was told that after graduation, the best way to get a good paying job in her developed country is to go to a developing nation, get some experience and then return. That was the original, untouched intent and so she did. However, there was a twist to her story; a factor she never considered and as a consequence, there was a clear shift in motive, perspectives and life direction.
In this Championing Change Series, we will see mission through the eyes of Nikki Horne. To sweeten the pot, her experience took place in the Spanish corner of the Caribbean, Ecuador where she spent over 8 years.
The factor which flipped her world is what we call, “relationships”. She summed it up perfectly while at the same time acknowledging the selfishness in her original intent. “If you go into a context to sincerely try to serve the people and meet their needs, it becomes hard to leave. It’s terrible to think that I could go there, ride on their back and return to get a great job! When you develop relationships with people, you then really want to cheer for them and before long you become part of their family.”
In Ecuador, Nikki walked along side people in marginalized contexts. These people are usually under very oppressive systems. Kids cannot go to school, health care is limited, food is in short supply and the lure of criminal activities becomes more enticing with each passing day. “I worked in a school which offered free education and learnt that free education has to be coupled with other opportunities to be of any help. I got into health care, counseling and soon found myself acting as a bridge so they can access basic human rights.” Nikki said her job was identifying individual needs and tackling them. This individual based approach is effective but its reach debatable which she consciously acknowledged. People are made up differently and as a result, their situations and requirements are unique. This is the basis of the approach of the Onzole River Project Co-Founder.
I do not know about you, but I want unfiltered, unpurified and uncontaminated probity. Is it that you were born with the intrinsic desire to help others or is there something else?
It is Nikki’s belief that it is our responsibility as humanity to look at other people, share our time, resources and efforts. She spoke passionately about not wanting to be the center of her efforts, as it’s not supposed to benefit her. “To see people step into their true potential, children graduating, and parents finally being able to provide for their families are the only benefits I will accept as I find seeing all these things extremely fulfilling. I believe I am privileged as I get the opportunity to go serve in these communities.”
With regards to amplifying her efforts, Nikki noted skill sharing as being the most valuable resource to development. “People are hungry for skills. We set up vocational training centers so we can professionally develop our community leaders and in turn they can teach others. To give skills require you to give of your time, sacrifice leaving your family, and find funds to travel. People are sadly not willing to embark on this journey of selflessness,” she lamented.
Nikki concurred that change can only happen if we all start working in our own communities and as long as we are working diligently in our own corners of the world, change will happen. Nikki had advice for two audiences. To the adults she insists that a greater mentorship role of the youth has to be played and to the youth she stated so beautifully,
“There will always be pressure from society but it’s important you find pleasure in abandoning everything and pursuing what makes you happy.”
Nikki Horne, the Ecuadorian in her own right, now sets her sights on transitioning to the continent of Africa where she is hoping to contribute.
Future of Africa was founded to transform lives and villages.
Many world communities are broken and hungry for change yet our behaviours are founded on beliefs that limit our human potential. Community development requires a change in the consciousness of new leadership, and a renewed sense of culture for a good quality of life. The change we seek calls for a generational transformation in our values, beliefs and attitudes, through small acts of great love and service. We have a heart for the world, but our context is Africa.
Africa will develop through the hands of children and youth, who take leadership responsibilities for change in their communities. As such, we believe the time is now for young Africans to become invested in the lives of people, to serve and lead the change.
Follow Future of Africa’s current adventure on the streets of Accra, where they engage their street family and together discover how they too can be the future of Africa
The Onzole River Project is one of the projects that the people of Life Change have had the priviledge to kickstart. There have been years of involvement among the long forgotten AfroEcuaodrian communities of northern Ecuador and recently even more remote indigenous people. During this time we have assisted the communities to come to the place where they have a renewed hope and confidence in the future. And they have opened our eyes to so many of life’s realities.
After many generations characterized by neglect, abuse, and maltreatment, and with little hope for change, LCA was invited by local leaders to become involved in making a difference in the Onzole River communities. Partnering with Canadians already resident in the country, we helped form the Onzole River Team. Since 2007, LCA teams have been working diligently with the community to restore a school, build a vocational workshop, and construct the Community Learning Center. Our commitment to resource local leadership, providing them with the help they desire, sees us always aware of the need to transition leadership into their capable hands.