In April 2022, Faustina Gablah, an epicenter community leader from eastern Ghana, shared her leadership journey at a Skoll World Forum Ecosystem Event.
Faustina’s story in her own words:
“In most cases, power and resources for development are controlled by the top, but there is an increasing need to shift power and give opportunity to the local people at community level. After-all, it is often said that he who lives near fire feels the heat.
‘Local people have the potential to do things for themselves. We only need opportunity, resources, trust and encouragement to be able to help our communities to leap high in development. We shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes because mistakes are springboards for development and the path that leads to discovery of new ways of doing things.
‘I was born and bred in Togorme, a small community of about 600 people in Akode Epicenter. I started school in 1996, as a pioneer student in the only basic school in the community. I continued to secondary school at Somanya and had to struggle from there to do a Diploma Course, taking care of myself as a teenage girl.
‘I later started the village savings and loans scheme in 2012 as a Bookkeeper, with 10 members and a small capital of GHS 25,000 (3,300 USD) but now, we can boast of 245 digitized members and 155 ledger card bearing members. Our operational capital has now grown to GHS 300,000 (39,867 USD). I am still the Bookkeeper and have trained one other local person to take over from me when I am no longer there.
‘I am also a Women Empowerment Program animator (community volunteer) in my community and also served as a Chairperson of the School Management Committee for 5 years. I travel around 5 communities in Akode Epicenter to educate people on Human Rights, Child Rights, Domestic Violence, Child Maintenance, Child Labour and Gender Equality. I am also the treasurer of my church. Through our leadership, my community now has a Rural Clinic, Vocational Training Center for girls who have dropped out of school and an ICT center.
‘Let us all join hands to shift the power to community level and call for more women inclusion in decision making and we will all live to see the world develop in leaps and bounds.’
Faustina’s story highlights the importance of shifting the power and resources of the development sector from New York, DC and London to local leaders living in the community. As Faustina stated, they are able to identify the unique challenges of their community and invest in solutions that yield long term results.
Learn more from Faustina and community-led development practitioners in the event recording: