Author: Cheryl Brenn, Director of National Programs
Most of us are familiar with the HOBY Story:
In the summer of 1958, our founder, Hugh O’Brian received the invitation that would change his life. O’Brian, then 33, was in Winnipeg, Manitoba, parlaying his fame as television’s legendary Wyatt Earp into extra income by guest-starring with a circus. Then the cable arrived from French Equatorial Africa: Dr. Albert Schweitzer would welcome him at any time. O’Brian had long admired the German doctor-missionary-theologian-musician. “I’d read so much about him,” he reflects. “He was a great humanitarian who could have done anything he wanted in the world, and there he was in the middle of Africa taking care of people.” Within two weeks he was on his way, by commercial airliner, bush plane and canoe, to the famed hospital that Schweitzer had founded in 1913 on the banks of the Ogooue River in Lambarene.
It was an unforgettable nine days. And, as O’Brian departed, Schweitzer took his hand and asked: “Hugh, what are you going to do with this?” From these nine days, Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership was born and in the 57 years since, over 435,000 students have been inspired, encouraged and empowered to make a positive difference in the world around them.
For the first time since that fateful meeting in 1958, HOBY returns to Africa.
With the support of SEA Foundation, founded by Togolese native and international football (soccer) star Emanuel Adebayor, HOBY will introduce its inaugural Community Leadership Workshop program with the enrollment of students in Lome, Togo on October 27th and 28th at the Hotel Palm Beach. The SEA Foundation aims to fund and support youth projects in Togo which have the potential to be used as a blueprint in the rest of Africa.
Empowering youth to shape their future and their communities is the common thread between our organizations and serves as a powerful catalyst in developing the young leaders of Africa. We are expecting up to 100 students to participate between the two days of programs.
David Fergusson, a member of the HOBY Board of Trustees and recipient of the 2015 Albert Schweitzer Leadership Award has been instrumental in the development of this initiative. He brought HOBY together with the SEA Foundation and will be onsite in Lome for the program next week.
HOBY’s first program in Africa has been made possible with the patronage of Togo Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Togo Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, and the Togo Ministry of Youth and Youth Employment, and with the support of EcoBank, Palm Beach Hotel and the Embassy of France in Togo.
Togo, is a small country (approximately 22,000 sq. mi), on the west coast of Africa. Comparatively, the area occupied by Togo is slightly smaller than the state of West Virginia, or about twice the size of Maryland. It’s bounded on the east by Benin, on the west by Ghana and to the north by Burkina Faso.
Follow HOBY’s social media channels the week of October 26, we will be providing live updates during the programs and inviting all of HOBY global community to welcome our new HOBY ambassadors and HOBY volunteers from Togo into the HOBY family.
#HOBY #HOBYAfrica #SEAChange