As far too many people know, it is very difficult to find meaning in the midst of suffering. Wisdom often comes only in the aftermath, when the clouds have cleared. As Minister Yahdan Yada, who grew up in abject poverty, stood in a new classroom in Senegal, watching as excited students tried out the computers he had purchased, he was struck by a thought: with time, your hardships really can reveal your purpose.
Minister Yada is the Founder and CEO of The World’s Greatest Rejuvenation and Yadalo Group SA, multimillion-dollar companies with an international customer base. While today he is creating hundreds of stable, long-term jobs for individuals and families on two continents, he says that in many ways, it seems like only yesterday that his future looked very different.
“For much of my life, I struggled to find hope and to really believe in myself because as a child, I was fatherless, neglected, and abused,” he remembers. “I did not have the support that everyone needs at that age, and when I reached adulthood, I was convinced that I was worthless. That belief only increased my stress, leading to numerous health and relationship problems and inhibiting my potential.”
His saving grace was self-love: choosing to treat himself with kindness, fill his mind with positivity, eat healthy foods, and surround himself with positive, life-affirming people. “It has made all the difference in my life and empowered me to leave behind the toxicity of my youth and early adulthood,” Minister Yada explains. “Learning to love myself unleashed my real potential as an entrepreneur and gave me the self-confidence to go after my dreams.”
While Minister Yada often travels on business across Africa, Europe, and the United States, his heart remains in Senegal, where much of the population is mired in the same poverty that he escaped. Part of the solution, he believes, is education, as it can open up important career pathways that would otherwise be unavailable.
“This concerns me greatly because less than half of Senegalese are literate, and millions of children are out of school,” he says. “I believe that when you have much, you must help those who don’t, especially when you have been in their shoes. That’s why I decided to increase educational opportunities in Senegal.”
Minister Yada joined forces with Momar Ngum, the mayor of Ngogom, and Alfityanu Humanitaire International, whose network of NGOs fights against extreme poverty and inequality of opportunity. Their goal was to build and open four new schools in Ngogom and ultimately give vulnerable children full access to education and the ability to contribute to social, cultural, and economic life.
“It has been an absolute joy to help open these schools, and you wouldn’t believe the excitement in the community,” Minister Yada says. “Everyone understands what an incredible opportunity this is, and while it has been hard work, every second has been worth it.”
At the new schools, children begin attending classes at age six. Around age 11, they enter the lower-secondary phase; as young adults, they can enter the upper-secondary phase and take general continued education and personal enrichment courses. Instruction is given in the Qur’an, Arabic (language and grammar), French (language and grammar), Hadith, Fiqh, computer studies, and coding.
Minister Yada believes deeply in computer education because of the excellent career possibilities that it offers. Accordingly, he used his personal money to purchase computers for the entire student body and to hire coding teachers.
“Computers are vital for a student’s education and can connect them to the world and new ideas,” he says. “I’m not sure who was more excited to see them installed in the classrooms – me or the children.”
For his efforts to educate students of all ages in Ngogom, Minister Yada was appointed Ambassador of the municipality. While he was deeply honored, he has his eyes set on the future of Senegal and says much remains to be done to raise the living standards of its citizens.
“If we cast a vision of a better life for everyone and build it one brick at a time, we will get there,” Minister Yada thinks. “In the end, it is about all of us using the gifts we have been given to improve the lives of others. Yesterday we built a school. Tomorrow we will build a university.”