Program builds ‘Future Leaders,’ including this Sequim grad

Under the shade of a mango tree, orphans and street children gathered to be taught how to read and write. They could not afford to go to school, so Billa Mamud took it upon himself to teach them.

  • Wednesday, May 7, 2014 6:21pm
  • Opinion

Under the shade of a mango tree, orphans and street children gathered to be taught how to read and write. They could not afford to go to school, so Billa Mamud took it upon himself to teach them. As more children came, Billa needed to find a second mango tree. Now, 16 years later, 154 children attend school in a modest building called Future Leaders. They are given a safe place, a free meal, and most importantly, a free education.

Future Leaders is an organization dedicated to bringing education to children who cannot afford it. They begin with reading, writing and basic math. Nine Ghanaian teachers and any number of international volunteers and interns give the lessons. Some interns, like myself, tutor children one-to-one. This way, those who need special attention are given even more help. As they progress, they are moved into higher levels and taught more complicated subject matter. Some graduate into the workforce, others even go on to study at the university.

Since the mango tree, Future Leaders has expanded its mission. It now includes a vocational school, so that men and women may learn to be hairdressers or seamstresses, useful trades in Ghana. Their products and services are used to help fund the school. Extracurriculars like a soccer team and a technology club give children a way to stay be part of a team and learn the skills they need to succeed.

Last October, Billa started a micro-finance company, which currently supports 30 of the poorest families in the school. He’s hoping to expand to all the families in need. His next goal is to hire a special needs teacher.

My time at Future Leaders has been truly inspirational. These children, who often lack family structure, come every day ready to learn. When I ask “What’s your favorite subject?” nobody says, “lunch-time” or “recess.” They shout “Reading!” or “Math!” They appreciate school, they do the homework that I assign them, they come every single day ready to learn.

When I met my first student, she couldn’t write her name or say her ABC’s. We started going through the alphabet, letter by letter. We worked on it every day, and now she writes her name on every piece of paper she can find.

In fact, on any given morning at Future Leaders you will see 50 children looking for paper, proving they can write their names.

Perhaps the best part about Future Leaders is that the teachers are native Ghanaians. They know the language, they can connect with the children in a way I cannot. At the moment, there are more than 110 children on the waiting list. The school is still growing and when it is possible Billa will buy more land and expand the school to accommodate every child.

The organization is run entirely on donations and profits made by handmade products from the vocational school. To learn more about this program or how to get involved, visit

Alice Hastings is a 2011 graduate of Sequim High School and attends Gonzaga University. She recently was featured in a story about recent SHS graduates working or studying overseas (“Global visions,” March 12, page A-1).


More in Opinion

Guest opinion: Tax credit proposal would aid local journalism

There’s a hunger for accurate and useful news coverage right now —… Continue reading

From the Back Nine: Who is that masked woman?

Things I have learned about myself in the last five months: 1.… Continue reading

Think About It: Happy anniversary women – vote now!

Aug. 18, 2020, marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the… Continue reading

Guest opinion: Face masks save lives, jobs

And all across the state, Washington state employers are leading by example… Continue reading

Guest opinion: When the mills close, what’s next?

One by one the mills shuttered in Port Angeles. Now there are… Continue reading

Aging Successfully: Local and historical Trivia

It was great fun learning more about our local history and trivia… Continue reading

Think About It: Intimidation prospective

His voice was deep and gruff. His message was unmistakable. He questioned… Continue reading

Guest Opinion: Seattle Lights Out in 2022

Far too few people remember the 1972 Seattle billboard: “Would the last… Continue reading

Guest Opinion: COVID-19 impacts tribal natural resources management, traditions

Like communities across Washington state, treaty Indian tribes are coping with what… Continue reading

Guest opinion: Rebound and Recovery website aims to help small business bounce back

By Kris Johnson For the Sequim Gazette We’ve all learned new terms… Continue reading

Water Column: Resetting the rules

If you’re into games of intricate strategy and tales of suspense and… Continue reading

Think About It: Vulnerable me, vulnerable you

“None of us could have imagined spending extended time in isolation at… Continue reading