Helping young people in Madagascar be the pilots of their own lives
The founder of the training and mentoring program “Stop becoming… JUST BE!” received an award at the AU Innovation Expo last year. Read how his program gives youth in Madagascar the tools they need to choose their own path and achieve their goals.
November 07, 2019 by Angelin Marius Rafidisaonina, “Stop becoming… JUST BE! program|
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Marius Angelin Rafidisaonina received the AU Expo young innovator award in 2018.
CREDIT: Marius Angelin Rafidisaonina

My name is Angelin Marius Rafidisaonina. I’m 30 and I’m from Madagascar.

Personal growth is a matter of simple things we often forget. It is about expressing yourself, learning new things and forming new habits, allowing yourself to experience things a different way and finally keeping that process going as often as possible.

Lack of support for young people as they transition into adulthood

In Madagascar, our societies are shifting demographically - we are facing a sharp increase in the youth population just like in the rest of Africa. Unfortunately, many young people are not educated well enough to be able to take charge of their own lives and build their success.

The national education system has not improved enough, and things may not change in time for the next generation. So, we are forced to create our own solution to this challenge.

Even among the most renowned private colleges in Antananarivo, young people need help. At a place where young people are supposed to be trained to become leaders of companies and communities, they are not yet aware of what they want to do with their lives, who they would like to become nor how to get there – career guidance is lacking. They attend school every day and learn, but they don’t know what for.

I know, because I was one of them. I have seen this for years and I could not stay still any longer. That’s why I decided to step up and come up with a solution. I did research for over two years about personal growth during my master’s degree and finally created Stop becoming… JUST BE!

The joy felt by Tamatave slammers after a Slam contest organized by “Stop becoming… JUST BE!”. Credit: Marius Angelin Rafidisaonina
The joy felt by Tamatave slammers after a Slam contest organized by “Stop becoming… JUST BE!”
CREDIT: Marius Angelin Rafidisaonina

A program for personal growth

Stop becoming… JUST BE! is a personal growth program with five simple steps that anyone, especially young people, can use to build and manage their lives.

The five steps are:

  1. My personality, my choices
  2. Growing by relating with my environment
  3. Expanding my vision
  4. Step up to the plate
  5. My mindset, my present

The program can be used to train and/or mentor individually or in groups. Each step has its own method and duration.

The training is short and done through conferences, workshops, an activity or event. Its goal is to sensitize people to consider themselves and life in general differently.

The mentoring part of the program has  a long term impact on people due to the time invested, generally 6 weeks or more. Every week, participants receive information about a new step in the program and a way to practice it. The following week, the session starts with feedback on how users have put what they learned into practice and which parts have been challenging.

A third way to use the program is through the creation of activities or events around a passion or common goal and make them sustainable by allowing participants to integrate it, learn to build their own vision around it, take actions and finally make it a part of their mindset.

With this approach, there is no need to teach as every participant learns the 5 steps naturally. This approach has the best long-term impact, especially for youth who sometimes can lack sufficient self-discipline or those who are may feel lost in the conventional education system.

Empowered youth

In order to disseminate my program, I have reached out to people who were searching for such help through organizing workshops, trainings, summer camps, challenge games and contests. From the feedback, participants told me they were “awakened” by the program, empowered by the belief that they can manage their lives and succeed by managing themselves well and their relationships with others and their environment.

Young people start to achieve small projects they always knew could improve their lives but had never taken the time to do. They take better care of their relationships because they learn it is very helpful as they progress in their daily lives and plan for long-term projects.

The program provides training and mentoring on demand for individuals, associations or other organizations all over Madagascar and creating different and sustainable activities in Tamatave to help youth embrace their potential regardless of their results in school.

Impact of the AU Innovation Expo prize

My ambition is to build a web community around what youth are doing all around Africa, starting with what I know is happening in my country, in order to inspire people and push them to take action in whatever they are interested in.

In Madagascar, we are a few entrepreneurs who are supporting each other the best we can. That is awesome to see what we can do with almost no resources. Eventually, we would like to enter into collaboration directly with the Ministry of Education in Madagascar to expand our program.

After winning the AU Innovation Expo prize, I realized that our program has to be more than just a group of people gathered in a room for a personal growth workshop. The funds we have been awarded have allowed us to plan more activities. The certificate from AU helped us look more appealing to other local organizations. The AU Expo also allowed us to be more connected. I have now access to some African Networks as Education Innovators, Ashoka Education in Africa and Association for the Development of Education in Africa, which is really helpful.

Stop becoming… JUST BE! Is not meant to be just a training program. It is not meant to fill people’s heads with how to succeed. It is a program to lead and push people to learn on their own, so they can be the pilots of their lives.

Expanding to reach more youth

Since April, we have started to organize slam contest in Tamatave. We are now in the fourth edition. The last contest in December will be a big final competition for the winners of the first four editions.

With the activities organized this year, I hope to be able to finance next year’s edition with also contributions from local companies and the communities.

I would like to gather more stakeholders around our activities, starting with local partnerships and then expanding. It will be so much more impactful with more organizations involved.

Our web site platform will allow us to broadcast our activities to the world. How great it would be to be a portal for all African countries, as we found that Africans know so little about other countries in our continent.

To other innovators, I want to say that together we will be able to make Africa better. I want to encourage us all to always give our all and to share what we can to help others to be inspired, motivated and empowered. We all need it to get over this challenge we are facing.

A message to my fellow Africans

We know that Africa is emerging from a long sleep. The economic situation is improving and a lot more is coming. To support that development, we need to dramatically improve our global education system. To do that, we need to innovate.

We need to provide youth an environment that will allow them to grow personally and learn soft skills like what we do in Stop becoming… JUST BE!

Youth want to contribute in this big movement. We are the ones who have just gone through our national education systems. We have talked and complained about the good and bad side of it for many years, so we know what should be changed to make it more efficient and applicable and relevant to our daily lives and future aspirations.

So let’s all engage in dialogue and be part of the decisions that need to be made.

Read the other blogs from young African innovators 

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I want to work with you and to make GPE a learning place in Liberia. Could you please link with me that Liberia will be apart of those young people who are saw in the photos?

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