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  • Writer's pictureErin Inclan

Transforming lives with Gilbert Nkpeniyeng—through education, motivation, and giving back

Updated: Jan 12

Gilbert Nkpeniyeng was one of the first Talking Book listeners. Today, he's a motivational speaker!

At a recent Amplio event, Gilbert Nkpeniyeng shared how a close encounter with a Talking Book changed his life trajectory. "I want to encourage others. I want to share knowledge with people who are in the shoes I was."

Back in 2019, when we first interviewed Gilbert, he told us about the times he nearly quit school because of cost, accessibility, and family circumstances.

Gilbert grew up in Ving Ving, a rural community in northern Ghana. He was 10 when the first Talking Book prototypes were field-tested with school children in his village.

"I knew something special was about to happen, and I was right," Gilbert shared. "The Talking Book inspired me with messages to keep going [to school], because education is my life."

But it almost didn't happen.

"Four years later, I had to travel every day for school because my village didn’t have a junior high. I managed to make it through the first term. But it was stressful, because I didn't have a bicycle. During the break, I travelled to work on farms to earn money to buy a bicycle. However, I could not find any work, and I was locked up."

Gilbert was locked up for more than four weeks.

Never give up on education

When Gilbert finally was able to return home, his problems were not over. After missing more than a month of school, Gilbert learned he had been automatically dismissed and would not be allowed to return. He had to plead his case with the head teacher.

(There's more to this story, read more here.)

"I decided if the teacher would not listen to me, then my education would end. After all, my mother and father were not educated, and they survived. But I was hurting inside, remembering the Talking Book message about the consequences of dropping out of school—and seeing the poverty, illiteracy, and consequences in my village."

The Talking Book message gave Gilbert the courage to persevere.

Watch Gilbert share his Talking Book story and his vision to inspire and educate others.

Achieving a college education—and giving back

Today, Gilbert is the first in his family to finish high school and go to college. And he's committed to inspiring other young people to do the same.

Because of a local teacher shortage, he volunteered at a junior high school for a year, preparing and coaching students to continue on to high school.

At university, Gilbert participated in student government and youth empowerment groups. For his activities, he won a Wells Mountain Initiative scholarship, recognized as a grassroots leader who is catalyzing community transformation.

Along the way, he also kept in touch with Amplio, as a volunteer and field staff. He has helped to createTalking Book — including writing and recording songs and dramas on topics such as Health, Gender, and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH). He also translated user feedback and conducted field surveys and interviews.

This year, Gilbert graduated from the University of Development Studies with a bachelor of education and a specialization in Economics. We couldn't be more proud. In August, he interned at Amplio Ghana before starting his national year of service.

Mission: transform lives through knowledge sharing

We are so inspired by Gilbert's passion and determination to create social impact through education that we invited him to give the keynote speech at Amplio's donor event in December. (Did we mention Gilbert is also a motivational speaker?)

Gilbert shared how Talking Book programs have impacted his community.

"People are now aware of the best practices in agriculture and health. A lot of people have been motivated to go to school or continue with their education because of the Talking Book. And that has increased the literacy rate in Ving Ving." 

"The world is changing, the world is transforming, because of the Talking Book activities."

"I just want to say thank you to Amplio donors, and to the Amplio team. You are doing a great job out there. There are a lot of vulnerable communities that are receiving the impact. Please keep on with the good work. The world is changing, the world is transforming, because of the Talking Book activities."

In August, Gilbert interned with Amplio Ghana. Now he's aiming for graduate school.

Gilbert had to overcome enormous challenges to stay in school. Nevertheless, he persevered. And he doesn't plan to stop. His new goal is to pursue a master's degree in rural development studies and a PhD, so that he can teach at the university level. 

"I know there are people out there who need some knowledge in order to achieve their dreams. My goal is to inspire, encourage, motivate, and educate people."

"I know there are people out there who need some knowledge in order to achieve their dreams. My goal is to inspire, motivate, encourage, and education people."

If you're inspired by Gilbert's story, we invite to join our innovative community of partners and supporters—including Gilbert. The average gift to Amplio is $391. Make your donation to Amplio today to help share knowledge and transform lives.

Together, we can bridge the knowledge gap. Will you join us?

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