At-ten-TION! For-ward MARCH! Pre-sent ARMS!
One may associate these strict military commands with the rigor you experience when you have Akeisha Johnson on your team as Team 2 Team Lead. She has her collection of all Team, Management, & Leadership Program (TMLP) design statements, Communication distinctions, and any tool you need at her fingertips ready to pass along to someone unknowingly craving for the information. She interrupts conversations, an accepted common practice from Team 2’s, to insert the integrity that’s missing. Nothing is left ambiguous with Akeisha holding us accountable.
Imagine what you can accomplish using this rigor in your life outside of Landmark. Akeisha applied her skills and tools to her Game in the World called “The Oshun Project”. The Oshun Project is a project in Haiti which empowers communities to rebuild their villages in a sustainable fashion. The first project started during her Team 1 term where she installed a water filtration system in Haiti. In partnership with Chavanes Casseus, Director of MP3K in Haiti, they provide education classes to inform the community how to best use their filtered water. Additionally, they deliver filtered water to nearby schools in the town of Rhe, Camp-Perrin.
Being unstoppable is no longer a concept for Akeisha; she experiences herself as unstoppable simply by being in action and having conversations.
I was standing in front of a group of about 100 people in rural Haiti celebrating installing a water filtration system that I caused for a community plagued with cholera and I was in tears. Realizing that I had achieved what I had envisioned 8 years prior.
When I first thought of doing projects in Haiti I was an undergrad and thought that empowering Haitians would empower me, but I had NO CLUE how I would do it. It was when I did Landmark’s SELP 6 years after I thought of the idea, that I had the blueprint for putting something together to make a difference for Haitians. In the program I identified that our work would empower communities already up to doing things. What our program would do is partner with these communities and bring sustainable resources to them. In SELP and later in team, I got coached around creating structures for what I wanted to accomplish. That’s how we installed a solar-generated filtration water system for over 15,000 people in a remote area of Haiti. Once I understood that what there was for me to do is tap into communities of people and then map a plan and take action on it, I was on my way!
Playing big games also mean we get hit with BIG breakdowns. So I ask Akeisha, “What’s the biggest breakdown you had and how did you overcome it?” Breakdowns are not experienced as breakdowns anymore for Akeisha because she’s gotten used to them and all it means is that something is missing.
Until people started dying.
During the installation of the water filtration system, it was rainy season high in the mountainous southwestern region of Haiti (specifically Rhe, Camp-Perrin). There’s a large river bed that the people in the community need to cross to access the market. The river bed overflows and they lose about 5 to 10 people every season when local Haitians cross this river bed. This was a breakdown that knocked out the rigorous, unstoppable Akeisha. She was scared and thought herself an idiot for thinking she could make a difference in a place like Haiti that had so many problems, where others have thrown their hands up and given up on. She felt responsible for the loss of these people’s lives.
Fortunately, with the skills she’s acquired through Landmark’s programs and, more importantly, her two coaches, she’s able to regain herself and get back into action. Her coach Clay Kilgore, who is also the program’s fiscal sponsor and Team SF’s former Classroom Leader, is the one who made the difference for her by reminding her of her commitment and the possibility she created. Her Team 2 coach, Elizabeth Miller, also reflected back to Akeisha her possibility and outcome. Additionally, her committed colleagues, Margaret and Bee, helped her see who she is for others.
Following this incident, she decided to expand on her project. She is now opening a market at Rhe, Camp-Perrin so the locals will have access to groceries and other necessities within their own community and taking out the necessity to cross the dreaded river bed. The market is being created as a social enterprise with the revenue going towards local school kids’ tuition.
When Akeisha first created her game, she knew it was big and didn’t think she would accomplish it. It didn’t seem real to her until she started talking to people and found team members. Akeisha and her team keep each other accountable and, a mere idea manifested into reality for herself and the families in Haiti.
The Oshun Project’s new website launches May 30th, please visit them at www.theoshunproject.com!
Photos supplied by Akeisha Johnson, with her commentary:
Frantz St. Forte is the chief operator to the water filtration system and the Executive Secretary of MP3K, the organization The Oshun Project is partnered with in Haiti. He also conducts the educational classes to inform community members on best uses for the filtered water.
Water to be delivered to local schools distributed by MP3K.
This building is where the local market will go. The building requires finishing (this is what we are working on completing now). A section of the building is where the filtration system is. Like a specific window in a store. –Akeisha
(Building a local market in Haiti.)