Motivating Tomorrow’s Leaders: Doing it While the Plane is Still on the Runway

by Dr. Kwabena Amponsah-Manager

Doing something and feeling at the end that you did the right thing at the right time gives a kind of a sweet feeling.

Last week I was at Aketenchi, a village in the Western Region of Ghana to help train health workers as part of the Ghana’s grassroots healthcare delivery program. After the training, I had about 2 hours before our team was scheduled to depart from the village. I had a wonderful idea. I did something which was the most fulfilling part of the day. If everything works right, I believe I might have prepared the next presidents, UN Secretaries, teachers, pastors, businessmen and women of the next two decades, hoping every kind of luck under the sun works out too.

I called three kids who were roaming about the streets of the village and started to talk to them about the importance of school and education. Initially I was afraid what their parents would say if they found me talking to these children without the patents’ knowledge.  I had no idea what I was getting into. Within minutes of starting, the crowd had grown to over 40 children and 14 adults. I was scared. I was really terrified about someone getting hurt with each child trying to find their way to get as close to me as possible. I had no security personnel for crowd control.

Dr. K Amponsah-Manager motivates kids in Akatenchie in the Western Region in Ghana that they can be whatever they want to be in life.
Dr. K Amponsah-Manager motivates kids in Akatenchie in the Western Region in Ghana that they can be whatever they want to be in life.

I talked to them about why they need to love school and stay in school. I assured them of the possibility that any of them can become the president, a teacher, a scientist, a pastor, footballer, a businessman or woman or the next PULSE volunteer to come and help their own community in the future. The grins on their faces were beautiful. They listened attentively.

I had some gifts (pencils, crayons, books, balls, games etc) that I carried with me to the village that day. Because I had not planned for such a large crowd, I did not have something for everybody. I therefore gave a quiz and the kids who got the answers right got gifts first and everybody else by chance. It was chaos but so much fun.

I said some of these children could be scientist, teachers, presidents, etc. but only if everything works right, because needless to say, they have hurdles to go over.

I was in Akentenchie for sake of patients. The kids surely were not clinical patients, but I gave them a good therapeutic dose of encouragement and positive words for their future.

It was remarkably exciting manner to end a truly tiring week. The health training we had offered to the health workers earlier in the day was the reason for the visit but this was the real highlight for me for that day.

If you have any suggestion about where this plane should go, make your suggestion while the plane is on the ground, still on the runway. The moment it takes off and is in the air, whatever you say is a mere irritation. We can all in one small way or the other change the direction many of these kids go, but the window of opportunity is narrow. So help when you have the chance. It may never come back.