GLLI's inception in 2014 traces back to the "Leading Light Club," a school club founded by Dieudonne Allo in a rural school in Eastern Cape. Allo, a schoolteacher then, established this club to provide a space and tools for young people to cultivate their natural gifts beyond academics, building future leadership skills. Recognising the need to strengthen the children's ecosystem to promote his "leading light" vision in the classroom and at home, Allo sought to extend the same empowering space provided to students in the club to adults in the community. During this journey, he discovered the work of Teresa Graham Brett (JD), author of "Parenting for Social Change," and the two became friends and collaborated closely. This collaboration led to the formalisation of the non-profit. Joined by two like-minded collaborators, Ntombomzi Thabede and David Metler, the team operated under the name "Alliance for Parenting Education in Africa (APEA)" for the organization's first three years. Throughout this foundational period, GLLI's founders, driven by a commitment to community connections, initiating community partnerships in South Africa and Botswana. Their primary focus was to grasp the specific needs of these communities.
Over those crucial three years, GLLI focused on two pivotal initiatives: student innovation clubs, designed to nurture innovation among young individuals, and "Iziko," which facilitated parenting circles. The aim of Iziko was to empower parents and educators with the knowledge and skills to cultivate nurturing and enabling relationships with children. The overarching belief was that every individual enters the world with a unique gift or "ray of light." If identified early in life and provided with the appropriate tools and environment, this gift could flourish, leading to prosperity for the individual and their community.
However, GLLI’s founders recognised that when parents and teachers employed oppressive or disempowering methods in raising children, these gifts could remain unfulfilled and the light within the children dimmed. They also found that in addition to lack of skills, the stress of poverty, among primary caregivers, especially women were major impediments to building these nurturing and enabling relationships with their children to help them identify and develop their “lights”.
In 2018, in collaboration with the Goldin Institute, GLLI organised a community visioning summit at Saint John's College in Mthatha, Eastern Cape. This gathering brought together students, youths, parents, community leaders, teachers, and Walter Sisulu University to collectively reflect on the genuine needs of the community and envisage programmes that would address those pressing needs.
From this summit and the extensive groundwork previously conducted in South Africa and Botswana, GLLI developed its current model and its core activities. These community-driven efforts have proven highly successful. GLLI remains dedicated to identifying the ever-changing needs of the community and adapting its solutions to address them. A prime example of this adaptability is demonstrated in the GLLI’s response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to small women-owned businesses through Ibali lam.
Global Leading Light Initiatives 2023
© GLLI 2023