#MySacredStory: Ikenna Donald Ofoegbu, Nigeria

IKENNA DONALD OFOEGBU

Nigeria
Caux Scholars Program Alumni 2018

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My name is Ikenna (but many people also call me Donald). I am a 35 year-old husband and a father of two lovely boys. I currently work as Project Coordinator for the Heinrich Boell Stiftung in Nigeria. I have an academic background in Economics, and work closely with a wide range of stakeholders and experts around sustainability issues in Nigeria, including climate change, people-centered decision making, human rights, and inclusive growth. I serve as a member of Technical Planning Committee of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), the largest national think tank and economic dialogue platform in Nigeria. I am also a youth teacher in at my church.

Before I joined the Caux Scholars Program (CSP), people generously described me as a kind of “Superman” because I am very hardworking, I am a teacher, a friend to all, and one who goes the extra mile to get the job done. I also am a lone ranger and too busy to keep a social life! 


However, I also feared failure. There have been times when I have become overwhelmed, lost direction and purpose. I didn’t have the tools of self-care or how to properly take care of myself. I carried everyone along not to simply help them build their capacity, but because I was impatient and didn’t trust people with work. I have been full of uncertainty, anger, fear of the future, and have constantly doubted the world ’s ability to progress. This has constantly drained me, put me on the edge, made me frustrated at trying, and in the end, I lost confidence in what I do. How I was feeling inside is very different from how I appeared to the people around me. 

The initial months of this year were tough for me. I was on the edge of quitting my job. My boss having lost her husband in January was away for months, and I stepped up to take on higher responsibilities. Many instances frustrated me, as I had to deal with colleagues who did not understand project management. The Caux Scholar Program changed a lot of what I truly thought I was. Today I feel better. I feel alive! CSP really helped me frame project issues in a more comprehensive way for everyone’s understanding. This newfound confidence and approach has helped me run the office program effectively. I have taken significant decisions with more clarity and direction, which I couldn’t have done earlier. Today my boss, having resumed after months away, feels really proud of my new personality, leadership and competence to run office projects in her absence. 

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CSP has been more than an academic exercise for me. It was therapy - a personal and professional compass that gave a new direction to my perspective. CSP showed me areas where I personally needed to improve. The courses on restorative justice, conflict cycles and analysis, conflict inventory and management styles, really improved my work as a Project Manager. The class on conflict inventory tools helped me to realize my personal conflict management style. I feel equipped to deal with issue framing, problem designing and engaging a wider variety of stakeholders. I am now better able to understand their specific interests and communication patterns at each point of the project activities. With more conscious attention and effort towards improving my directional skills, even my colleagues and project partners see and acknowledge the renewed clarity and confidence in me today. 


The four weeks of CSP created a space for honest listening, trust-building, inner soul-searching and a reconnection with nature. It afforded me the opportunity to acknowledge my vulnerabilities, cry out my inhibitions and heal in the process. The peace and strength that I discovered within myself has helped me become grateful, patient and alive as a person and a professional. I believe CSP finds a way into our conscious and subconscious being, giving us a new lens to see and think differently with hopes to bring about change in ourselves and our communities. It replaces the heaviness of negative energies with light positive essence. 

Lessons on facilitation have made me a champion in enabling meetings and other consensus dialogues. I have implemented trust-building activities with a local partner in our project working with resource-strapped communities and the results have been fantastic. We provided space for teenagers to listen and share their experiences, develop solutions together and build trust amongst themselves. The program was affirmed by the “gift of words” and this encouraged me to apply it with more “silence”. The Caux Scholars Program is magic, one that the world should replicate in every place and time for real humans with real drive and passion.

Next, I plan to make connections with other affiliate organizations of Initiative of Change to see how we can implement the lessons learned at Caux in the Nigerian context. I am working to develop further research and funds towards projects that focus on peace, conflict prevention and management in Nigeria. Following this, I will set up a global organization to develop potential young African leaders IofC methodologies to encourage a new movement of peacebuilders.

#CauxScholarsProgram2018


IKENNA DONALD OFOEGBU is an economist researcher. He has a Master's degree in Economics from the University of Ibadan. He is a Project Coordinator with the Heinrich Boell Foundation in Nigeria.

CSPAmanda Buffington