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The first encounter that a person experiences while venturing into a new area be it school, job or place is always crucial and memorable. In fact, it spearheads all the other experiences one is to face in any particular field and thus the need for openness and preparation for such an integral time. These are some of the thoughts that were clouding my mind as I was preparing for my first workshop as a facilitator of the SELL (Sharing Education and Learning for Life) programme. SELL programme which is run by SELL foundation predominantly targets the young people of North- East region of Nigeria with the aim of building peaceful communities, families and most importantly individuals since the foundation firmly believes that true change begins from within. The workshop was to be held at a place known as Jimpi which meant that we had to cover about 75km from Bauchi town where our SELL office is located. My colleague (a resource team member) and I were to hold a two days’ workshop with the youths of St. Mary’s Parish. Our journey was safe and smooth but unfortunately few minutes after our arrival there was a very heavy downpour which lasted for almost an hour. This meant that we had to readjust our programme since we had to wait for the youths to come. Fortunately, immediately after the rain stopped a number of young people started coming into the hall although some were soaked with water. After observing that quite a number of youths had come we commenced our workshop. Our workshop was to tackle a unit (community building) which according to the youths was the stage they were in because they were one of the many communities that encountered grave violence (religious related crisis) in Bauchi state. It was a very interactive, educative and self-healing workshop due to the numeral sharing that took place. The youths though they were rained on were full of energy and one could not but just experience the eagerness to learn, change and consequently become agents of peace which in turn leads to better communities. In the process of sharing my output with the young people, I noticed the presence of a very young boy who was around 7 years old. The boy looked so attentive, focused and serious. In addition he was nodding his head systematically to what was being said. This really touched and motivated me. However, I was wondering if the boy really knew what was going on or he was just having fun. Moreover, it was too late and cold for such a young boy to be out. With all these doubts and questions I decided to approach the boy and have a chat with him. To my surprise the boy though did not understand much he had captured the most important thing which was peace. This encounter that I had with this young boy was motivating, encouraging and life giving. The boy though young had grasped an important lesson in life which might inform majority of his decisions in the future. The experience with the boy echoed the words of the Hausa version of SELL programme which states ‘Ilimin Kowa’ which means education for all people. The impact of this visit to this community was therefore a life changing moment for the youths who though did not have any food to eat never stopped from participating in the programme. Besides having nothing to eat these young people had to overcome greater challenges such as walking the long distances from their homes under the heavy rain for the love of being more enlightened gave me some sense of assurance that message passed to them was taken at heart. Additionally, it was more fascinating to see the desire in the young people by the way they passionately advocated for a future visit. My first experience of facilitating a workshop was captivating and therefore laid a platform for the many life giving experiences I will have as I engage with the young people who are not only the leaders of tomorrow but the leaders of today.


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