Ijeoma knew what lack meant. If she had to describe her childhood, she would say poverty and lack.
Growing up in her mother’s village, surrounded by people whose entire lives revolved around their community, was not a life she would want for her enemies. Ijeoma was the last of five children and only 10 years old when her father lost his job in the city and they had to move to the village.
The family, accustomed to prosperity, took a while to adjust to a life without the necessities to which they had become accustomed. From a fully furnished house, they now shared one room, used a pit latrine and had to fetch water from the village stream. The first two years were terrible, with constant fights between their parents and regular visits to the health center for food poisoning or infections contracted in the unsanitary environment. The only school they could attend was the community school, which did not have enough staff to meet the needs of the students.
Although this was the life of mediocrity she was born into, deep down she understood that she was destined for more. This thought became even clearer when she was visited by two youth workers who had been sent to the community school in her hometown. Mr. Tolu was assigned to Ijeoma’s class as the English teacher for the year, while Miss Mary taught high school science.
Whenever Mr. Tolu came to class, he would tell them about great successes that children from communities like theirs had achieved.
Miss Mary worked as a volunteer for a non-governmental organization (NGO) and within a year had helped women in the community develop skills to earn money. One such woman was Ijeoma’s mother, who learned to sew clothes from Miss Mary and bought a sewing machine from the government loan she was able to take out under Miss Mary’s guidance. This contributed significantly to the family’s livelihood, as they now had a new source of income and were no longer dependent solely on the yields from their acre.
The impact that the two teachers made in her community spurred Ijeoma to action, and she dedicated herself to studying and improving her skills so that one day she too could impact the lives of others in this way.
Years later, Ijeoma had the privilege of working in a community similar to the one she grew up in, and she rejoiced in the opportunity to help others in the same way she had as a child. She used the resources at her disposal to help most of the residents, organizing food drives, teaching them to be more productive and even inviting her NGO to provide health services for those who could not afford it.
Helping people is a domino effect. No matter how you can help someone, don’t hesitate, you could save a life and in turn save a community. Serving humanity is a sure way to make a difference, strive to be a person of influence wherever you are.
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