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Balqesa Abdi Sheikh - Nakuru, Kenya

I grew up as a volunteer and peace ambassador in the middle of recurring inter-ethnic and cross border conflicts in Kenya’ north eastern region a place commonly known for the wrong reasons, they call it mandera, I proudly call it MY MANDERA. It is my passion for peace, youth and women empowerment that made me find myself in another continent I arrived at Asia Plateau on the 1st of June 2014. I had to achieve something in my life. I was of course in the middle of a bated breath between excitement and anxiety. I had taken a step, a step that will have positive impact on my life. The feeling of being the only African and representing my continent in the LMAD conference was great.

Quiet time was kind of strange to me because it was not usual for me to be quiet even for 10 minutes unless I am sleeping. Reflection is indeed the term I can use; it was phenomenal moment for me. I had connected so fast thanks to the incredible souls, Viral Bhai and Neeha Mum they did all it take to make me feel at home and understand the concept I was part of the program and everyone took care of me, the love and support I was given by the LMAD family was strong enough to find myself home away from home.

I was so happy conscious and having all the time to really understand me, myself and I, as our great Icon Gandhi Ji said “you must be the change you want to see in the world”. The 8 days at Asia Plateau changed a lot in my life. I had learnt how to let go off my own enemy and that is my bitter enemy “ego”. Sharing moment and discussions were adding value to my life every day for the 8 days i was there. I went back home, feeling more informed and carrying something to share with my community. LMAD really impacted my life and taught me a lot. I started sharing the wonderful moments and experience I had at Asia Plateau with my people back home and just like the way I took the pledge, I did it seriously. I may not have been practicing every morning but I did it at least once in 24 hours. I have been involved in a lot of youth programs both within and outside the country and during my presentations, I shared the precious gifts I had carried from Asia Plateau. It was a gift that will forever remember, a gift that I will always treasure. Since June 2014, I managed to be a part of 2 international and 2 local forums and this year the 21st LMAD gathering gave me a chance to dive in to my passion I was given the opportunity to be in the coordinating team that received the past 21 years LMAD coordinators it was a learning experience for me. Change is a process and I am indeed a work in progress I agree with our very own Martin Luther King Jr that darkness cannot drive out darkness only light can do that and hate cannot drive out hate only love can do that .

I feel like I am getting richer, healed from inside living a happy life without hatred and with so much love to offer. With the supportive family and friends that i already have, the other thing that can add up to my happiness is to find more family and friends across the globe Thanks to the Almighty! I am always grateful to Viral Bhai and the entire LMAD and AP Family.

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