By Alkali Cham
The Voice Youth Bantaba has endeavored to beam its camera on the activities of The Ultimate Mentorship Association (TUMA), a registered youth-led non-profit making organization whose role includes training young people to overcome the anxiety of the most feared art, public speaking also other leadership functions to create a better and independent society.
Exploring TUMA activities, Alkali Cham, the anchorman of The Voice Youth Bantaba on this week’s edition has a one-on-one chat with Siman Lowe, Executive Director of TUMA who has inspired many young people through his intellectual engagements to nurture future leaders to champion the path to self-fulfillment
The Voice: Kindly introduce your role in this organization.
Siman: Thank you so much for your time. I am a Co-founder and The Executive Director of The Ultimate Mentorship Association (TUMA), a registered youth-led non-profit making organization founded on the mission to harness, guide, and nurture responsible and exemplary leaders who will champion the path to self-fulfillment and positive change in society.
The Voice: When was it established?
Siman: TUMA was established in September 2022 by a group of dynamic young leaders who are inspired to create an enabling environment for the development of the younger generation. It was officially registered with the Attorney General Chambers, Ministry of Justice on the 13th of January 2023.
The Voice: What are some of the objectives of this organization?
Siman: The Association seeks to build an environment for young Gambians by providing capacity-building opportunities for youths, nurturing ethical leaders and public speakers, developing ambassadors to champion the promotion of quality education, bridging the social inequality gap through cohesive societal advocacy and project implementation, and providing a sound and equal space for the exhibition of talent and skills towards the progress of society.
The Voice: What is the membership capacity
Siman: In its structure, a group of committed and passionate young executive members, which include graduates, and ongoing students of the University of The Gambia administer the Association. The Executive Board consists of 14 members (7 male and 7 female).
The Voice: What are some of your intervention areas?
Siman: Our intervention areas include the conduction of Mentorship programs and leadership training, organization of conferences and seminars, provision of Communal services and volunteerism, publication of write-ups, advocacy, and promotion of good governance and strong institutions.
The Voice: How can a newcomer become a member of this
Siman: Recruitment of members of TUMA is based on an annual online application through our Mentorship Program. Upon application, the executive members conduct a thorough review of applications and select the most deserving individuals for the Mentorship Program. These selected individuals are considered part of TUMA until their graduation at the end of the mentorship program.
The Voice: Who has inspired you into this?
Siman: The formation of TUMA is not necessarily inspired by an individual personality, but by consequences of the deplorable state, we live in. The formation of TUMA is inspired by the desire to promote advocacy as a weapon meant to instill ethical values in humanity with a focus on our fundamental core values of civility, humanity, integrity, inclusiveness, and service toward national development through a shared patriotic vision.
This inspiration was drawn from the observance of the historic occurrences of our political system, weak government institutions, poor political and administrative leadership, porous governance system, rising corrupt and unethical practices, and compromised leadership principles that have marred the political and administrative history of the Gambia.
The Voice: What are some of the achievements you registered over the past years to recent times?
Siman: Going through its operation, TUMA is currently implementing a yearlong Mentorship Program. The 2023 Mentorship Program is tailored to the association’s primary objective to nurture, inspire, and groom young people to the feathers of leadership. It is a stepping-stone to provide new leadership dynamics to young individuals in visualizing the problems challenging our growth as a nation, most importantly among which is leadership.
Furthermore, the Mentorship Program is a beacon that avails 80 young individuals within the age range 16 to 35 the opportunity to be trained, mentored, inspired, and groomed by seasoned leaders in numerous leadership values and thematic areas. Within the 12 months mentorship program, participants get an insight knowledge of ethical leadership, public speaking, personal branding, career guidance, and counseling, effective professional writing, creative writing, team management, and goal setting, the importance of youth participation in politics, and civic education.
Additionally, outside the parts of theoretical knowledge, the participants are challenged through the “TUMA Lead Initiative” to pioneer community service activities where they utilize the knowledge and skills learned in creating social impact and promoting national development.
Concurrently with the Mentorship program, the Association organizes capacity-building training for school-going children in the secondary school cycle. Recently, TUMA has trained about 90 school children in Kuntaya Basic Cycle School and Brufut Senior Secondary School in Public Speaking and Debating. This effort complements TUMA’s commitment to training Gambians in effective public speaking, tools to overcome anxiety, and tailoring public speaking skills to attend interviews, gain employment, and build professional careers.
The Voice: What are some of the challenges you faced on your way to your project implantation?
Siman: Despite the commitment and readiness of the Executive Board, and the myriad of successes we have registered within the short span of our existence, TUMA is primarily challenged with the availability of finances. Our programs and projects are currently being funded by the meager pledges made by the executive members who are students at the University of The Gambia and the subscription fee of D350 paid by the 80 mentees during their application. These proceeds are insufficient in running the activities of the Association, thus, reducing the level of impact TUMA could create if financially supported. Additionally, the absence of partners and sponsors for our activities has resulted in the reduction of our annual activities that had been targeted when TUMA was launched in late 2022.
The Voice: What are your plans for the future interest of membership
Siman: In the association’s efforts towards advocacy, TUMA is working on collaborating with the ‘Wow Wow Foundation’ in a campaign against Early and Forced Marriages in Kiang. This campaign is part of the association’s advocacy engagement on the strategies and tools needed to add our voice in the fight against the problems of our society such as gender inequality, women empowerment, child abuse, human rights violation, corruption, climate change, and other relevant areas of interest in national development and sustainable growth.
Futuristically, we visualize TUMA championing mentorship in the Gambia and training more than 500 young Gambians in the next four years. Every year, we plan to train nothing less than 150 young Gambians through our annual Mentorship Program and TUMA Lead Training Initiative in Secondary schools.
Before the end of 2023, with support from like-minded institutions, philanthropists, NGOs, and Civil Society groups, we also intend to conduct training for at least two schools in each of the seven regions in the Gambia. We are equally committed to creating a TUMA Alumni where all mentees who passed through the mentorship Program will have the opportunity to share their experiences and knowledge with Gambians and help in supplementing the human resources needed in the mentorship crusade.
Finally, TUMA is committed to building partnerships with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE), and the Ministry of Higher Education Research, Science and Technology (MoHERST) to launch officially its mentorship programs in Secondary Schools, Tertiary Institutions, and Vocational and Training Centres in the Gambia.
The Voice: What advice do you have for those that may be inspired to join your team?
Siman: My advice to every young Gambian who might be inspired to join our team is that it takes one thought to ascend a stair that can create an impact in the lives of thousands of Gambians. When we commit ourselves to use the little we earn in advancing the future of this nation, the little today transcends to be the greatness of this nation that we all yearn for.