I joined ELF to find my footing in leadership and get inspiration from other young leaders who have dedicated their skills, time and passion to impact their communities.
I am Seleyian Agnes Partoip, Founder and Director, Murua Girls Child Education Program,a national Non-Governmental Organization working among pastoralist communities to raise awareness on issues affecting girls and women; These are FGM, Child marriage, sexual reproductive health and menstrual hygiene management. I am a survivor of Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV). As a child 10 years and later in my early 20s, I am a fellow at ELF Cohort 7. I joined ELF to find my footing in leadership and get inspiration from other young leaders who have dedicated their skills time and passion to impact their communities.
Back in 2015 I founded Murua Girls out of a desire to use my experience through abuse to raise awareness to protect children. My story was my motivation as I wanted to help another girl have a different outcome. However before that I had not dealt with my pain, and 3 years into running Murua girls I went into depression and substance abuse.
I lost my vision and I felt helpless most of the time, there was a deep sense of despair thinking that I cannot ‘save others’. The pain and trauma of childhood abuse came to the surface when my daughter turned 10, the age at which I was assaulted. I felt that as a mother I am not capable of protecting her. I woke up with nightmares fearing for her safety. A friend referred me to a therapist who helped me over a period of 3 months unpack the whole experience, find healing and forgiveness.
On the other hand as I was battling depression, my organization which had stabilized with staff, programs and funding came crushing down, due to my absence. I had not set structures to ensure its sustainability in my absence. The staff and volunteers moved on. Donors withdrew their support and my board went silent, all waiting for direction from me, but I was not able to offer any leadership at the time.
I came across the advert for Emerging Leaders Fellowship and thought this would be the first step I would need to get back on my feet. As I applied, I prayed and hoped it would address my leadership failures. the first session on self-awareness was of tremendous help as I looked at my road map and shared my story. I derived power from the painful experiences that had driven me down the path of depression. The following weeks after the first session, I became more aware of how our experiences shape us and our calling. I was looking at my story from a very negative point but I am now able to look at the other side of the story. My experiences have opened me to be less judgmental and to have compassion towards others.
The second session on Transformational leadership opened my eyes to all the mistakes I made in my leadership journey. I was at a point where I blamed every one for my pain but myself. I used it as an excuse to hold me back instead of a power to propel me forward. I let fear cripple me where I could have drawn strength from the fact that I am a survivor and did not succumb to my experience. I now recognize the role of pain in my journey and the impact of the small stupid choices I made along the way. I will say I am not halfway there but I am back on track to create the ideal world I want, not just for my daughter but for all children, where their story will be different.
ELF is the turning point I needed to get back on my leadership track and live this dream one more time. see you on the other side!
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