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  • Reynald Liyeuk, Open Dreams Scholar

A Safe Haven For Dreams!

It all started at Open Dreams. I can still remember my early days, and how over the years, my dream has been refined through interactions and discussions. To some of us, Open Dreams was the place where we were allowed to be our authentic selves. When you leave, you start feeling the pressure from society and from everywhere. Open Dreams is the incubator of dreams and for many of us, we won’t be here were it not for Open Dreams. “When You want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” (from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho). God has been working through various channels to help me achieve my goals in life and Open Dreams is one of the greatest agencies.

It all starts like a dream and before you know it, you are living it. It has been one long journey and many Scholars will agree to it; you sometimes get discouraged and fell like you are at the wrong place, but the fire and desire to see a better community and a sense to be part of something bigger than ourselves always keeps pushing me. For the first few months after I had received my Scholarship offer, I would sit and reread the email to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. My flight was booked and all I had to do was wait, I had become an apostle of waiting though (10 months since my offer). This has been the longest I had had to wait for a day to come (it wasn’t a New York Trip this time, hahahahaha). Then came the day, and before I knew it, my plane took off from the Nsimalen International Airport. I watched with amazement the beauty of the clouds and how much hope they spelt for my home and my life. It was a hard moment, as I knew how much I had left behind to set out for this journey, I remember my family and the people closest to my heart; I could barely tell what happens next to them. I had to trust that God will protect us all. I did enjoy the ride and connection from Nairobi to Mauritius. Before stepping out of the Plane, I remembered the first “Moonstep” I took few hours back. I was picked by some senior students accompanied by a member of staff. The welcome was great. By 6am Sunday, I had packed into my room. The campus is brimming with different nationalities, different cultures and personalities; it is a great space and the vibe is amazing.

An Africa that works, Mauritius

I think one of the things you gain by traveling is that you get to see how things can be done in a different way. The blue skies spell hope. The country is so organized, and roads so good that I couldn’t find a crack on the road. I see how a very diverse group of people are able to co-exist, with one not claiming to own the country or to be the most important; everyone is equal and there is of course freedom. The ease of doing business is also another great thing, no wonder the African Leadership University (ALU) had to be launched on this beautiful island. There is the question whether or not God created Mauritius before creating the Heavens. Who says Africa isn’t great? Come to Mauritius. Who says Africa is all about war and famine? Come to Mauritius. Who says Africa doesn’t have world class Universities? Come to Mauritius. You want an example of good governance and democracy? Come to Mauritius! You want a land full of sugar cane? Come to Mauritius! During the launching ceremony of the new campus, the Prime Minister, the most powerful person in Mauritius, was just a stone throw from me.

Among the 3 Million Plus

During one of the days of my first week at school, we had a community lunch and a guest who was sitting a table away. It was a dream come true when I turned around to find that I was sitting in the same room and having lunch with Mr. Swaniker, the Founder of the African Leadership Group. It was a very important moment for me as reality hit me; I was not dreaming. Few days later, we had a session with him and he reminded me of how privileged I was. He helped me see myself in his vision for Africa; that of grooming 3 million ethical leaders for the continent and that I was among the 3 million of the leaders in his plan. It is humbling to discover how so much hope is in me and that each of the intended 3 million is expected to create 3000 jobs in less than 6000days. It is a daunting task and one that requires a great team, he emphasized.

We do Hard Things! We build Cathedrals

Here at the African Leadership College, we do hard things. The task of building Africa and reshaping it is a very difficult one and we are prepared from day one to embrace the challenges. We won’t have it easy solving the issues of healthcare or education. Armed with this, we set out to the mountain. We had to go hiking and this was the first time for me and the truth is, I have walked longer distances before. But this time, it was different because I had to climb continuously. It reminds me of the fact that each part of our journey is different from the other and that we should take advantage of each and learn. We started off with a goal, to reach the top. At the end, some reach the top, others stopped at a place closed to the top and some didn’t embark on the journey at all. It is okay not to want to go hiking; it may not be their thing and it is equally fine if you feel you can’t make it to the top. Our journeys as scholars, will always vary. Some will land a scholarship in months, others will take longer. You are not a failure if you come to Open Dreams and maybe it doesn’t work out for you. We all have different leadership journeys. Some of us will arrive early, some will take time, but eventually, they will make it. The most important thing is that you make it in the end. Try not to settle for something you don’t deserve; give in your very best; aim high. On our way, we met a couple of people and this encouraged us. When you got tired, you just had to look around and see a grandmother climbing and you are encouraged to push forward. One more lesson is the fact that at different stages of the journey, you meet different people. It is unlikely that you will end with the same person you started the journey with. Because building Cathedrals take hundreds of years, we will need every hand on deck and each generation of builders to be totally given to the vision. It is bigger than each of us. We should work together as we set out to build cathedrals of education (Open Dreams), of good governance and what have you?

Le Pouce is the name of the Mountain I climbed; it is the third highest Mountain in Mauritius and it is called Le Pouce because of the thumb-like shape of the peak. Thumbs up to me for making it at the top; thumbs up to Open Dreams for the amazing work; thumbs up to the best mentor in the world and also to all the Mentors at Open Dreams. The Open Dreams team is amazing! Let’s be patient as we seek to make Open Dreams a Cathedral. We need all hands on deck. I matriculated on Friday, after the swearing in ritual. This is how my first two weeks have been and you know the beauty of it all?


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