I am a fortunate person. I realize this everyday. I have a great family, a wonderful husband and amazing children who are kind, polite, and all very talented in their own special way. And while I am grateful, I realize everything we have is the result of years of hard work, sacrifice, tradeoffs, and determination. If there is an element of luck in our success, then all the more to be thankful for.
My character and personality has been formed as a result of many factors, including my early life and the influence of my family and the people I have come across over the years. And of course, I must consider how I was hardwired when I came into the world. From this comes the good and bad in all of us, and my worldview is a result of all of the above. On the flip side, while we are influenced by our upbringing, communities we grew up in, and how we are hardwired, we also have an enormous capacity for growth and learning, which is what I try to focus on in my lifelong development. I consider this an opportunity and obligation.
One of my core values is helping others, which takes form in a variety of ways. I tend to be a person who will stop whatever I am doing to lend a helping hand; however, at times I found myself spending many hours of my day helping so many people in so many ways I had to step back and evaluate. It is difficult for me to say no, I always want to do the kind and generous thing, particularly because I am so fortunate to have an abundant life. My recent health crisis and diagnosis of pulmonary embolism has reframed my perspective and taught me many valuable lessons, the first being to take my health seriously and not continue to over extend myself at the risk of my wellbeing. On the other hand, I am very grateful to be alive and one way to celebrate my good fortune and health is to have a purpose and “lend a helping hand” in a strategic way that strikes my passion and interests and makes a contribution.
During a recent trip to Vietnam I was involved in a program at a local school that brings foreign visitors to the classrooms. I have participated in similar programs in Nigerian villages where my family is from. I have always found this to a valuable and rewarding experience, and helps you realize how little time and effort it takes to help others and put a smile on someone’s face. In Badegey, which is a local town south west of Lagos on the coastline towards the country Benin, my daughter Eloise and I visited a school where we donated her old books and toys. We spent a few hours there and taught them simple things like nursery rhymes and riddles. It was simple and cost nothing except our time and toys and books no longer needed. I would like to think our visit and donation enriched their lives in some way; however, we will most likely never know. But that is not the purpose of giving, one must do it freely with no expectation.
Our experience visiting the school in Vietnam while during Easter holiday was moving for the entire family. Rather than continuing our luxury life of sunbathing and cocktails we dedicated a day to meeting local people and making a contribution. There is enormous value in human exchange, exposing ourselves and others to people from diverse backgrounds, and the learning that takes place in the process. Giving is reciprocal and often the giver comes out ahead. So many times I have heard people say they got far more than they gave from the experience. The faces of the children was reward enough, and seeing my children mingling with the children and teaching English was very gratifying as a mother. We want our children to share, be considerate of others and think beyond themselves. We also want to give them the best of everything and not to feel guilty about what they have. This can be a challenge and delicate balancing act; however, leading by example and providing opportunities for them to experience the joy of giving is an important strategy to help them develop their humanity and perspective about what life is about. I am certain if asked, my children would say the school visit was a highpoint of the trip to Vietnam.
I was so inspired by the school experience in Vietnam I have decided to continue to visit the school and invite my friends to join me. There are many possibilities, starting with teaching English, but not limited to this alone. If you are interested in you are interested in lending a “helping hand”, please let me know and I am happy to sign you up. Remember, giving is the gift that keeps on giving!