Lessons from my Paradigm Initiative Journey

Yesterday (15th November, 2019), I left my position as Program Officer for the DakataLIFE program at Paradigm Initiative. When I first joined PI in 2016, I was required to hit the ground running. The 2016A class had already started and I was expected to make sure the class kept running smoothly even while I was having a very quick orientation.

I worked not just in the centre but in Dakata community

The early days were not easy. There was an entire month during which I did not have a single weekend to myself. I was either at the office trying to solve a problem that would come up as soon as the last one had been solved or arranging meetings with new stakeholders and partners. It was also necessary to establish a volunteer network in Kano from which a decent pool of facilitators could be drawn from. At one point, I almost considered quitting. I had had a really bad month. It felt like I was not getting the support I needed and someone told me the program was not going to succeed. Those were very hurtful words.

Luckily for me, I stayed on. I learnt that if I wanted the program to succeed, I would have to up my game. I had to become the type of person we wanted the young people who attended the DakataLIFE centre to become. I had to be able to say “Do as I do.” I read more about project management and leadership. I also took an active interest in personal productivity (an interest that eventually led to me starting Amir Writes).

As I worked to improve their lives, they also taught me valuable lessons

Progress was slow. There was a point during which I felt like every step forward was followed by two steps backwards. Eventually, towards the end of 2016, I had my first breakthrough. There were finally enough volunteers for the program and I had created enough awareness for ensure enough young people sign up.

In 2017, things got better. I got a new teammate, Amina. She helped take some of the responsibility off my shoulders and we each learnt to focus on what we did best trusting the other to cover our backs. 2017 was also the first year we expanded the LIFE program into Secondary Schools in Kano. Finally, we were training a lot more people than we could at our training centre.

By the time I left yesterday, I had supervised 13 LIFE classes and provided digital skills training to almost 500 young people who have all become role models in their societies. If you will like to learn more about what I did, check out Paradigm Initiative’s website.

Working directly with Schools through the LIFE at School Program.

I was privileged to work with an amazing team in an empowering organisation. I can’t thank you all enough. Thank you:

  1. GS (your book recommendations and insights were very helpful).
  2. Tosin (your leadership and mentorship are things I can never forget).
  3. Amina (I trust you to carry the program to even greater heights).
  4. Tope (Those training sessions really helped me see a different side of the work we do).
  5. Gabriel (CEO extraordinaire).
  6. Bilkisu (Who made sure the first person you see when you come to the LIFE centre is a woman, technology is for girls too).
  7. The enitre digital inclusion team: Gabreal, Ihueze, Yinka, Angela and Odinaka (always good for comparing notes).
  8. Seyi (who made sure we all stayed within budget).
  9. Tunde (Ever helpful).
  10. Boye (We need to see you more in Kano).
  11. Bulanda (Whatsapp partner).
  12. Rigobert and Emmanuel (I really need to learn French).
  13. Rebecca (It was nice knowing you).
  14. Lilian (The person I didn’t get to meet in person but always got an email from each Monday).

Special thanks to Lammy (Hexal Queen), who kept inspiring me to become the best version of myself and suggested I write this post to capture my progress. I will be working on a new project in Kano. I will also be delivering capacity building workshops in Kano through my firm, Aspire Training Services in 2020.

If you have been following Aspire for the personal productivity posts, don’t worry, the next post will be out on Thursday as usual.