Leap into Life has its origins in Macha, rural Zambia. I’d like to honor this with a brief introduction before going deeper into Leap into Life Ghana. This post shares about the history of Leap into Life moving from Zambia to Ghana. It also is a tribute to those involved in bringing Leap into Life to the stage we are now. Leap into life is taking its first steps into maturity.
In 2008 Gertjan van Stam and his wife Janneke van Dijk asked us to do research on the work that has been done in the Macha community in rural Zambia. At that time I was director of School of Synnervation, the institute for training, research and development of the Dutch Center for Human Emergence. Together with Anne-Marie Voorhoeve, strategic connector in CHE-NL and Jasper Bets, a young and talented researcher we spent almost 2 weeks in Zambia. Jasper stayed an additional 3 months for further research in Macha. Janneke and Gert-Jan have been living in rural Africa for many years and they have been working in Macha for almost a decade. Janneke as a medical doctor and Gert-Jan as an IT specialist. The work of the Macha community is supported by a foundation called MachaWorks. A lot of the developments in Macha are documented here.
“Not many people do understand what is emerging in Macha and how it does” This was one of the remarks Gert-Jan and Janneke made. Using Spiral Dynamics as an integral perspective they have been supporting the Macha community to grow from its own strength and capacities. Questions of leadership and dynamic steering came up more than once during out stay in Macha.
We had conversations at the campfire, on sight tours, meetings and coaching sessions with people working in Macha and questions from MachaWorks about personal growth in relation to the growth of the projects in the area. A very significant moment for me was our meeting with the Chief of Chikanta area. He mentioned education as most significant for a sustainable improvement of life conditions in his community, in Africa and in general. Inspired by this meeting I started to develop ideas for an educational program that is now turning into Leap into Life.
The first attempt for a leadership development program stranded due to many different things. However the idea never left me and I now see it as a 1.0 version leading to Leap into Life. In 2010 my former colleague at RnR Group, Piet Overduin, inspired me to pick up the threads where I had left them in 2008. We found out about our shared connection with Macha. Piet has a close relationship with Janneke and Gert-Jan and he had been in Macha over 20 years before. Most of 2011 we worked towards a concept for Leap into Life as a leadership development program. Together with our colleague Bertolt Daems (JCI President 2012) and Anne-Marie Voorhoeve we also worked towards a program to be held in Macha, Zambia.
In 2011 I also connected our efforts for Leap into Life with the ALIA community. “ALIA is a place of learning, training, and connection, where change-makers strengthen their leadership, form new collaborations, and accelerate impact.” (ALIA website) In 2008 I was involved in bringing the Authentic Leadership In Action program to Europe and have been part of this community ever since. Through this community I met Martin Kalunga Banda, related to Cambridge University and the Presencing Institute London, who was originally born in Zambia. There I also met Yolanda Nukori Hegngi, former Global Head of Learning and Leadership Development with the International Finance Corporation (World Bank). Another person involved through the ALIA community is Vibha from India. She is founder of Muskaan, a non profit trust that promotes holistic development of organizations, community groups and individuals, including children.
Until my visit to Ghana we were focusing on a program to be held in Macha, Zambia. Piet, Anne-Marie and I also had a meeting with Fred Mweetwa, Director of MachaWorks Zambia, who was in the Netherlands. However, my visit to Ghana has shifted the focus to there. In conversation with Dick Uyttewaal from MachaWorks we decided to start with a first Leap into Life program in Ghana. I’ve asked Dick for as an advisory role for Leap into Life from his experience with MachaWorks.
With Han Kok, experienced in financial & communication management for complex projects, I am now taking the lead for a business plan to raise funding for our next step with Leap into Life Ghana.
Together with the committed people and organizations in Ghana such as Fuseini Yakubu of Pamepi, Patrick Mang of JCI Ghana, Isaac Ampomah of CHEP Ghana, we have a strong and flexible team to make Leap into Life into a success. I also am quite sure that it will be none of what we expect. We are all learning.
Working with an international team that is more a group of connected souls and likeminded spirits has its own complexities. Our collaboration still is fragile and I also feel personally much challenged in my leadership. However, I have strong trust in what wants to emerge, in the capacities of the people involved to learn from the future and in our shared ambition to contribute to a sustainable future for planet Earth.
The decision to start in Northern Ghana has given Leap into Life the focus and energy it needs to evolve to the next stage. My next post will share about Leap into Life Ghana and the expressed need from the community in Northern Ghana where Leap into Life wants to provide in.