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AHAPPY Training in Sierra: Insights into Making the Best Out of Everything

Locally, there is a common phrase which depicts the fruition of an event when it is only on its facet: “wey food sweet na by ihn smell u go fos know.” You can tell a dish is delicious by perceiving it first. One of the peak moments I had when we started the AHAPPY FORMATION TRAINING and predicted a successful outcome and an epoch in my life, was when Madam Pascalia Sergon (one of the formators of the training) asked that everyone present must write down their various titles on a piece of paper (i.e. teachers, lawyers, police officers, students or entrepreneurs). These pieces of papers were altogether stored in a single bowl and kept aside. Promulgating to us that we are all participants of the training; one is not better off than another. At this moment I must have said to myself “the serious business is about to begin.”

“A person who has no peace cannot share that which he does not have”, I remember the Director of The Africa Jesuits Aids Network (AJAN) Fr Matambura Ismael SJ telling us vividly. To be people who promote integral development of young people we first had to awaken ourselves. To do so, we were introduced to the five dimensions of a person: physical, spiritual, social, intellectual and the emotional dimension. The human being is not only a body, but also spirit. I am not only a human being with biological needs; I am also a spiritual being with spiritual needs. The scientific knowledge I have of myself does not say everything about me. My fullness consists of me being a well-balanced creature. I exist and leave because I have a body, a mind, emotions, social needs and a spiritual connection with God.

Ms. Pascalia Sergon listens to one of the participants during their presentation

My physical dimension deals with my physical features (arms, legs, muscles, hair) and these meet my functional needs of walking, talking, working and breathing. If I fall and break a leg, the physical dimension is affected and in turn affects other dimensions. Thinking, asking questions and my ability to make decisions and solve problems I encounter, has to do with my intellectual dimension. It helps me discern between good or bad and helps me understand situations. Many of us have had the feeling that, even though we have had some success and happiness, there is something missing in life. One writer called this emptiness within our hearts the “God-shaped hole,” the space that only God can fill. This “God-shaped hole,” can be filled through constant communication with God which leads to a close relationship with Him (spiritual dimension). A loving, just, and compassionate relationship with people around us also draws us closer with God.

Participants take part in a group discussion session

A week of training has a lot to teach. Another aspect of the training which I consider striking is the area of our self-image. Jay Shetty, a British podcaster, an author and a life coach in his Think Like A Monk says, “We live in a perception of a perception of ourselves, and we’ve lost our real selves as a result. How can we recognize who we are and what makes us happy when we are chasing the distorted reflection of someone else’s dreams?” In another section of the same book, he annexes, “our identity is wrapped up in what others think of us—or, more accurately, what we think others think of us.” Not only is our self-esteem tied up in how we think others see us, but most of our efforts in self-improvement are just us trying to meet that imagined ideal. If we think of someone we admire and see wealth as success, then we chase wealth to impress that person. In encouraging us not to take to heart or mind what others think of us, Fr Cornelius Apili SJ succinctly stated that, “the key to our happiness is in our hands, but if we take that key and put it in the care of someone else, the person might just walk away and never be seen, leaving you bland and unhappy.” 

Participants take part in presenting what they have discussed in groups

“There was much else that Jesus did; if it were written down in detail, I do not suppose the world itself would hold all the books that would be written.” (John 21:25). In an akin way, it will be futile to try and narrate all that happened in an event where at every sentence spoken, you learn something new.

Indeed, the training was a formative one and our deepest thanks and appreciation goes to the AJAN family especially Madam Pascalia Sergon and Fr. Matambura Ismael, SJ. To our Jesuits in St. John Paul II Quasi Parish, without you this program would not have seen the light of day.

Thank You!



By, Joseph Martin Jalloh,

AHAPPY Training Participant at  St. John Paul ll Catholic church Grafton, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Ismael Matambura



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