Divine Kpe is a Youth Activist, a promising Social Entrepreneur, an emerging Public Speaker, and the founder of Teenage Build Ghana [TAN] an NGO birthed to tackle the multifarious challenges bedevilling teenagers with its concomitant results of Teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, poor academic performances and the issues of adolescent reproductive health.
He gives us a bit-by-bit breakdown of the processes involved in birthing his dreams, the impact thus far, and his firm belief in Nelson Mandela’s credo, “The true character of a society is revealed in how it treats its children.”
Let’s glean some lessons from Divine’s persistence, focus and passion for the young.
Birth, Ethnicity, Education…
I was born on 11th September 1990 in Have Etoe in the Volta Region to the late Mr. Thaddeus Agrady (a stenographer) and the late Mrs. Grace Agrady (a trader). I had my primary education and Junior High education at Have R.C. I later proceeded to Kpedze Senior High School for my Secondary education. Upon graduation, I attended the St. Francis College of Education (FRANCO) for my DBE programme where I graduated in 2013.
I served as the Public Relation Manager and later the Administrator for the Teacher Trainees Association of Ghana (TTAG Volta Sector) for the 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 academic years respectively.
Building TEENAGE BUILD GHANA…
It all started as a result of passion. Over the years I have had a passion for youth development. I am an avid reader and love to explore a lot. Whenever I read or heard about challenges facing the youths, I always want to help. This passion increased exponentially when I was serving as the Youth Coordinator at the Deeper Christian Life Ministry at Kpedze, Have and Hohoe .
During that time I struck up a relationship with a couple of teenagers, and had the opportunity to learn first-hand, the issues affecting them. On Wednesday 20th October, 2013 an idea came to start with my locality-youths from my hometown. On the 30th October, 2013 I got in touch with my mentor and coach, Mr. Bismark Tay, and told him, “I have a dream”. “Wow a dream?” he asked, “Tell me. I love dreams especially when they are good dreams and I know yours is a big one.” he remarked.
After narrating my intentions to him, he asked me to put the idea on paper. Whilst doing that I decided that the demography should focus on teenagers because there are many youth organisations focused solely on non-teenage youth. So I decided to tackle the age group of 13- 19 years. I put the idea on paper, developed it with the help of my mentor, got it registered and we were set to work!
I currently depend on my salary to run my NGO; but let me hasten to add that I am exploring other avenues and business ventures to generate income and very soon, I will be an employer.
Asides from passion, the multifarious challenges bedevilling our teenagers which are spreading their tentacles across the length and width of the country with its concomitant results such as national security ramifications in addition to the skyrocketed rate of teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, poor academic performances and the issues of adolescent reproductive health.
To teach and motivate others, it is imperative that one has all the assets one needs; as such, I have taken steps to refine myself even further. Currently I’m involved in a coaching contract with Mr. Bismark Tay, a trainer with the John C. Maxwell team. I also attend seminars and workshops to gain more insight and I’m currently undergoing a month-long course in Public Speaking.
Well, I never expected it to be rosy. It is full of challenges. However, I see them as breaking grounds to greater achievements. Some of the challenges include; an insufficient numbers of volunteers to enable us reach a wider magnitude of the teen populace. Some people even out rightly oppose this idea because they think it’s all about financial gain. But trust me; it’s very, very far from that. I only want to change the status quo. But you know what? Just like Albert Einstein, “I thank all the people who said NO to me. Because of them, I did it myself.”
Getting sponsors and/or partners is also very challenging; of course this means we are financially constrained from time to time. But all in all, these can’t be obstacles to greater achievements.
How Far Can Passion take you?
Very far; Life may not be worth living because I think a purposeless life is not worth living. I thank God I discovered my passion.
By God’s grace, I have impacted the lives of over 2000 youths via active youth leadership and by other means such as school to school seminars, publication of articles and radio talk programmes. I won’t under-estimate the use of social media either. I receive many testimonies from people about the impact I’m making in their lives through my posts.
I have partnered with other Foundations such as BARCAMP and Nneka Youth Foundation to mentor lots of young ones. And the number is still growing. As the Volta Regional Coordinator for Hallowed Kids Foundation, I’m working towards establishing a Children’s Republic TV Reality Show and the Regional Youth Icons Award.
In line with the objectives of TEEN AGE BUILD GHANA (TAB), and together with my hard working team members, we carried out a series of community sensitisation programmes on issues affecting teenagers. We have also held ‘Teenagers Empowerment Summit’ (TES) and established our Teenage Girls Empowerment Club (TGEC) in some schools. In September 2014, we will be starting our Spelling Bee and Reading Competition in Ve, Have and Hohoe.
The Foundation has also organised a successful BECE workshop for the 2014 BECE candidates within the Afadjato South District in the Volta Region.
It is fulfilling to see and know that teenagers are making the right choices because of our work. One such example was a young man whom others had given up on because of his ‘questionable’ character. After a period of mentoring, this young man is on the path of greatness. As I speak, he is developing ground-breaking ideas soon to see the light of day. I’m sure you will interview him also one day. He is just one out of many.
Failure? Not really but I will say I wish I had had sound financial knowledge earlier. However, thanks to Robert Kiyosaki’s book, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, an eye opener -I am in a better place.
Rebuilding Africa through the Young…
“He alone, who owns the youths, gains the future” said Adolf Hitler. Africa is not poor, just poorly managed. Mr. Nelson Mandela warned; “The quality of change in our society will greatly depend upon the quality of leadership that is exercised”. We have many things to smile over but we need the right people to take over and they are the youths, but not just any youth.
Mr. Nelson Mandela again said; “As future leaders there are certain responsibilities which we expect you to observe. One of these is utmost discipline. If you are not disciplined, you can never win our confidence.” I’m sure this dream I’m so passionate about will produce these disciplined young ones for the future. Remember, “We must not only build the future for the youths but also build them for the future”. This is the surest hope for Africa. I‘m sure with this mind-set, we can nurture responsible youths to take the mantle. I believe in Africa. With the kind of youths that are emerging in Africa, I have a dream that we will one day be the shining star of the world if Jesus tarries.
To quote Mr. Nelson Mandela, “I hoped and vowed then that among the treasures that life might offer me, would be the opportunity to serve my people.” My plan is to transform this continent through youth development. I will host a radio/TV programmes that will focus on youth development; run a consultancy service for teen development; publish the books that I’m currently working on; and become a motivational speaker of note.
I’m calling on philanthropists and organisations that are interested in youths/teenagers development to come on board. Their assistance and sponsorship is highly needful in either cash or kind. People who would like to volunteer with us are highly appreciated. And surely, even providing the platforms for us to broadcast our message just as you are doing is worthy of appreciation.
Mr. Bismark Tay is my mentor and coach. He has helped bring this vision to this level. My role models are; the late Nelson Mandela, Pastor W.F. Kumuyi, Pastor Mensah Otabil, Komla Dumor, Albet Ocran, Kwadjo Sarpong Nkrumah, Zig Ziglar and the philosopher Aristotle.
Ranking by Forbes/Time Magazine…
If I were to be ranked by Forbes, I would wish to be considered as a youth activist, a promising Social Entrepreneur, an emerging Public Speaker, a prolific writer and a hopeful Evangelist.
Inspire Young Africans…
The sky can’t be the limit when there are footprints on the moon. We indeed have more room for improvement. And never forget, in the words of Mr. Nelson Mandela, “The true character of a society is revealed in how it treats its children.”
*This interview was conducted by Prince Akpah, a Ghanaian blogger, freelance writer and journalist. The original transcript has been edited.