It takes a lot of courage to make things happen, especially when the odds are stacked against you. Many businesses and initiatives fail within the first five years. Most don’t even make it off the shelf.
In 2008 I went to Nairobi, Kenya for a month. I met a beautiful and lively woman who I saw so much potential in. I spent most of my time there working with and learning from her. I taught her whatever I could, and she in turn taught me about the realities of life for young women in Kenya. She was articulate, bright, thoughtful, and determined to make a difference in the world. I am sure that at that point in time she didn’t know she would go on to do work that would support and enhance the lives of so many.
I left Kenya and returned back home to my work in Canada. Several months later I was sitting in my bed with my laptop one Sunday morning and I received an email from this young woman. She wrote about some recent experiences that quickly brought tears to my eyes. Not only had she lost her job because she did not have the skills necessary to be successful, but several weeks later she was kidnapped and raped by a group of men and left on the roadside.
This beautiful, intelligent, and strong woman had everything taken from her but her belief that she had a purpose. Broken and at a complete loss, she wrote to me asking for support. She did not want money. She did not want me to save her. She wanted me to support her in stopping this from happening to others. She asked me for more tools, more connections, and more resources. She was willing to put in all the work and time needed to create her own initiative.
And so I did.
And so she did.
Over the next couple years I continued to assist where I was needed. In 2010 I went back to Nairobi to do more work with young women, and I met with this young woman once again. Within two years she created her own vision. She brought in supporters, volunteers, and resources. Together they supported over 500 girls and young women in Kenya to have a voice, to share their feelings, and support one another. She took time each month to provide sanitary napkins, to support them to stay in school, she offered workshops based on Passion materials, and brought in other resources where needed.
There were and are many challenges that this young woman has faced and will face on her journey into self employment and fulfilling what she believes is her mission in this world. With the support of her community and her own internal resources she will work through them all.
A few things we can learn from this young woman’s story:
· Take time to get clear on what your mission is; envision it, dream it, feel it… THEN get practical about it.
· Align yourself with the “right” people not just anyone who comes along. Gget clear on your intention and theirs.
· Stay focused on the value you are creating for others and yourself
· When you put 100% into what you do and it doesn’t work out – don’t give up. If you believe in what you do, there is always a way to make it happen. But, it might look differently than you thought at first.