Developing future leaders today

Developing future leaders today

02/05/2013

How Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools are nurturing leaders for today and tomorrow

Habiba Athumani, a refugee from Somalia, is a student at Angelina Jolie Girls Primary School in Kakuma, Kenya. This school, started by a film star by the same name has been a refuge for her and over 30 other girls. Habiba has cultivated leadership skills thanks to lessons gleaned from Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools (JFFLS).

She is the chairlady of Bidii JFFLS. Her eyes glint with a ray of hope. She knows that her dim yesterday is gone and her tomorrow can only get brighter. “I would like to be the Minister for Agriculture for my country Somalia when we attain peace”, Habiba confides. She knows that she’ll have to forge ahead and forget her past that has been filled with war, pain and self doubt.

The JFFLS is a training approach designed to empower vulnerable youth and provide them with the livelihood options and gender-sensitive skills needed for long-term food security while reducing their vulnerability to destitution and providing risk coping strategies. One of the other major objectives of the JFFLS is to promote the creation of gender-equal attitudes, by enabling youth to exercise the same roles and responsibilities and developing their capacities to critically assess relationships and understand the risks and resources present within their community. “As the leader of Bidii JFFLS, I have learned to lead by example and to inspire confidence in my fellow students when rallying support for the various projects we carry out”, quips a confident Habiba.

The strength of the JFFLS is its unique learning methodology and curriculum, which combines agricultural, life and  entrepreneurship skills in an experiential and participatory learning approach suited to vulnerable communities. This methodology is also suited to other contexts of low literacy levels.

Under the astute leadership of their chairperson, the girls diligently attend to their plots of maturing tomatoes, cowpeas, okra, watermelons and kales. Aged between ten and eighteen years, the girls know that the value realised from being members of JFFLS far exceed their expectations and they are glad they belong.

“My fellow Ministers,” Habiba mentally rehearses her speech in preparation for the day she presents the Somalia cabinet with an agricultural policy paper. She knows it’s a long way but with the leadership skills honed through JFFLS, she knows her dream is never too far out there. Ask Obama.

This FAO programme was funded by the Swedish government and implemented by the Lutheran World Federation.