Friday, January 23, 2015

How Are You Affecting Those Around You?

Last night I watched TLC for two hours straight. That rarely happens! the only TV channel that manages to capture my attention for so long is BBC Lifestyle and it has to be because I'm learning recipes on Masterchef or staring in amazement at the competitors of come dine with me. But yesterday, I found myself watching the different journeys of the first graduating class of Oprah Winfrey's Leadership Academy for Girls (OWLAG), and I was watching with rapt attention. If an earthquake had happened at that time, I probably wouldn't have felt it. I was watching in admiration as the girls told their stories, how they got into OWLAG and how the academy has affected them positively. 

But more importantly, I watched Oprah Winfrey, a woman who came from the bottom of the food chain, just like most of us, yet made her way to the top through dedication and hardwork. As much as I admired that, it wasn't what stood out for me. It was the fact that she took her time and energy to develop an environment where girls could learn more about themselves, own their voices and stand for their dreams. I wondered how she got to the point where she was absolutely convinced she could do it. She could have made up many viable excuses such as "I don't have children, so I don't know how I'll be able to help these girls", "I am American, why help girls I barely know in Africa?", "I don't know what the African culture is like so I can't help all these girls in disadvantaged environments"... but she didn't. She chose to be strong, because she knew that in spite of how terrifying the process may be for her, she was still in a better position than those girls; she was in a better position to help them than their parents ever could... so she did. 

Many of us are busy giving excuses, we are busy compiling reasons why we just can't affect the people around us positively. Instead of being a blessing to them, we oppress them with our ostentatious behaviour. You might say 'well, Oprah Winfrey has more money than I do. Surely she can do what she pleases with it. That may be true, but money is not the only key to affecting people positively. Lend an ear every now and then, share your connections, help them when they are job hunting, help them when they seek scholarships, help those around you with the little you have. Be a blessing, not an adept excuse giver. Oprah Winfrey did not have to build a school in South Africa; as a matter of fact, she did not have to build a school anywhere in the world. She could have chosen to spend her money on fancy holidays and whatever else tickles her fancy, but she didn't. She reached out to a community that she barely knew and made a difference. You can reach out too, to those around you who look up to you. You can affect them positively and make a difference, no matter how small. Are you having a positive effect on those around you? Think about it

image culled from

1 comment:

  1. It is funny how this has also been on my mind lately. I follow a tumblr page and I have been particularly inspired by how the owner of the page uses his influence to raise funds for people that aint so privileged and has been able to touch quite a no of lives. It occurred to me that one doesn't have to come up with a superman solution, a life at a time is the way to go sometimes.


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