Yesterday was World’s Day of the African Child and we at Light Up Hope could not help but reflect on the amazing journey we’ve been on with our current and past beneficiaries. And while we have tens of heart-warming stories to mark this day, something about the growth and transformation of John Bibo, or Saleh as he is popularly known, tags at our hearts a tad tighter.
Saleh joined LUH back when our organization was under a different name and administration, he was young and wounded in many ways. To start with, Bibo had grown up in a household where his father would beat his mother to the point of there being blood. Seeing his mother suffer at the hands of his father was both hurtful and angering to young Bibo who could do nothing but watch in terror. Over the years, the constant fights between his parents saw the seed of anger in young Bibo’s consciousness which would deter his healthy development. The fact that his family was poor did nothing to alleviate the pressure and pains experienced by Saleh and even though LUH came and sponsored him through education, he would have to do a lot of personal growth to escape the ghosts of his childhood.
Academically, Bibo did as well as his confidence could allow him. See, as a child, Bibo’s father constantly lamented how stupid he was because he did not attain position one in class. This constant reminder of his worthlessness affected Bibo to the point he no longer tried and eventually ended up missing the opportunity to qualify for university admission. Around the same time, Bibo was dealing with the effects of childhood anger and would get into a lot of trouble. In more than one instance, Bibo’s anger landed him in huge fights which eroded his social relationships. But the love and support he received from Kelly and Diana motivated him to seek a better solution to his emotional dilemma. Specifically, when the organization introduced the idea of psychological therapy and counseling, John got the chance to redefine himself and build a new identity.
By understanding the importance of dealing with childhood trauma, Saleh was able to not only make peace with his childhood but also tame his emotional outbursts.
“Understanding the root of my rage helped me forgive myself for the time I felt like a monster and enabled me to manage my emotions more effectively.”Bibo
In the last few years, Bibo has made a complete 360 in his approach to life. Today, he is the proud father of a little boy and girl who he loves with all his heart. When his son was born, he tells us that he knew he had to do better than his father in raising the little boy even though he had fully forgiven his dad.
“I no longer think my father hated me or mother, quite the contrary. The poverty we were experiencing and the lack of open and honest conversations in my family is to blame for the pain we went through. I wish my father never laid his hands on my mother but I have appreciated that it taught me to love and respect my partner both in private and around my children. It is important to me that my children know that I love them very much both in words and actions and that includes how I treat their mother.”Bibo
Saleh’s story is a clear indication that poverty robs beyond physical resources. It hinders love and compassion which affects the developmental outcomes of children. However, this story also gives us hope that it is not too late for young African Kids like Bibo. Through our continued efforts, it is our prayer that we will have more Bibos in our organization. Young children who will learn to grow out of their trauma to love and have happy families of their own is our ultimate African Dream!