My Journey into Self Knowledge and Self Disclosure
– Ekene Onyiuke
Ekene Onyiuke is an entrepreneur and CEO, Lavender Nigeria. In 2008 Ekene’s personal transformation began with a nomination to attend LEAP’s pioneer leadership programme in 2008 as an undergrad in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. She overcame her limitations, took on community projects for orphans and still invests in training young people.
Ekene continues to serve as a volunteer at LEAP’s leadership programme and shares on the timeliness and impact of LEAP’s intervention in her life.
I lived the early years of my life inside my head. I was timid and afraid of people. I had panic attacks anytime I was spoken to and was expected to respond. However, I would try to respond by using different gestures to communicate my thoughts. This went on even through secondary school where I slowly started coming out of my shell.
In the university, a classmate whom I usually bought inspirational magazines from, told me about a programme that he had been through and said he’d like to nominate me for the next one. I agreed, not thinking much of it. Later, he gave me a nomination form to fill. I did and that’s how it all began.
In 2007/2008 during the long vacation, I attended LEAP Africa’s Youth Leadership Programme (YLP) and my life has never been the same. I became unafraid, connected to my inner self, became aware of my strengths and weaknesses and accepted myself. I began to gradually move towards self knowledge and self disclosure. It also opened my eyes to see that I could accomplish anything, once I set my mind to it and keep working at it. I crafted a mission statement, set my goals and committed to living them daily.
I nursed a deep compassion for the less privileged, especially orphans. Growing up, I visited a lot of orphanages and would find myself worrying and wishing I could do more to change their situation. Therefore, choosing a change project was a bit easy as I had been consumed by compassion for orphans. So during the programme, I teamed up with a fellow beneficiary and we decided to rehabilitate an orphanage set up by the government in my home state. We faced a lot of challenges but we were very passionate about the project that the South-East YLP Alumni body adopted it as the project of the year, and with their help it was a huge success. Accomplishing that gave my confidence a huge boost. When LEAP Africa’s Leadership, Ethics and Civics (LEC) Programme was introduced, I volunteered as a facilitator in one of the pilot schools in Awka (Anambra State). I became uncompromising about my values, goals, and determined to live out my purpose.
In 2009 I earned my degree and enrolled into Alliance Francaise Enugu, where I learned French and Spanish. During my service year in Kano, I trained about 50 young girls to be peer educators for HIV/AIDS then I moved to Abuja in 2011 to start my first job with SAMSUNG and later left for Diamond Bank Plc in 2013.
When I got married and gave birth to my daughter, I resigned and started my own company- Blue Lavender but still volunteer for the on-going LEAP Africa iLEAD Program for public secondary schools in Abuja.
LEAP Africa came into my life at a crucial time and prepared me for the world. I find myself unconsciously living out all that knowledge wherever I find myself.
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