GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY

Looking around, I am beginning to fear that we are losing the tradition of giving back to the communities that mold and shape us into whom we become as adults. Apparently, we are slowly but surely forgetting how to live by the basic rules that we learned as children.  The American author Robert Fulgham wrote a short book of essays(1986) and one of them is entitled : ‘ All I Need to Know I Learned In  Kindergaten’. Among the basic rules he learned were: sharing everything, being kind to one another, cleaning up your own messes and living a ‘balanced life’ of work ,play and learning.

If we all added and lived the proverb: “ Charity begins at home”- helping family and close friends before stepping out to help others, we would lead fulfilled lives.

We have responsibilities and duties where we live,where we work and  in the communities we live.

The late Mohammed Ali could not have expressed it in a better way: “ Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

It is probable that we are all now so wrapped up in living in the ‘Survival mode’ that we have pushed everything else on the back burner.

At home, the parents love, nurture, guide and empower the children while preparing them to become part of the big world. As the children grow, they are given more responsibilities in the home like making their beds, washing the dishes and keeping the home clean. As they learn by example to be fair, kind and giving; their character is being built. They grow up wanting to contribute to the development of the communities they live in. I grew up in a home where my parents shared their time, money and even the simplest thing as a cup of tea with someone else. They would then go out in the community to organize the people to do things for themselves. Giving comes really naturally to the children of such parents.

The work place is another community that shapes and molds us. It demands that we actively give back to it other than keep draining from it. Giving back to where you live and work can be widened to include your country and eventually world-wide. It is all about sacrifice –time and resources.

To give properly, first you have to give to yourself, know your limits and own priorities. You have to reserve for yourself the right to say ‘no’ to avoid getting burned out by the role.

Giving back gladly to your community comes out of a heart filled with gratitude and wanting to share the little you have with others. You use your talents, power, image, influence, skills and money to help those in need to help themselves. Generosity is said to be a ‘Double’ currency in that it enriches both the Receiver and the Giver. As the Giver, you are being effective in the Community in which you live and you are contributing to the good of the Community.  Your main goal is to leave the Community better than you found it. You do all this without expecting any reward for yourself. The inherent value is that you grow as a human being and make many people happy as they are empowered to help themselves to live better lives. Those whose lives you touch feel that they belong; they are valued and cared for. This in itself will bring out the best in them.

While working in Botswana as a medical doctor, I used to offer my services free to the SOS Children’s Village International once a week and at least twice a year, I would encourage my children to spring clean their wardrobes and shoe racks. Then I would donate those items to the children at the Village. Up to today I still carry the smiles of those boys and girls as they received the items.

For some months, I have been giving away a few refuse bags to my neighbours and teaching them how to sort out garbage in their homes. This small act has made our environment cleaner and each member more responsible.  They feel as happy as I do about the change.

I am reminded to count my blessings every day and that there is no perfect time to give back.

Malcom Bane says: “ If you wait until you can do everything for everybody, instead of something for somebody, you will end up not doing nothing for nobody.’’

You give back because you care and in today’s world, there is so much need for care.

My favourite author Kahlil Gibran(1883-1931) , the renown  Lebanese – American artist, poet and philosopher constantly reminds me that : “ You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.’’

The most valuable thing I can give to anyone is my time.

We should all reach out to meet the needs in our community using what we have in our hands for it is the right thing to do. Let your giving grow steadily with time. Look around for small deeds you can do on a daily basis.

Zig Ziglar, an American Motivational speaker, said: “You can have everything you want in life, if you will just help other people get what they want.’’

May this quote by Buddha stir you into giving back consistently to your community, “ Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

Thank you for visitng my Blog and reading this post. I would appreciate if you left a comment about the post and also shered it with you friends and family. Learning is a lifetime job.

Like the Proverbial Bad Penny….I had turned up again.

Throughout my teenage years, I used to suffer from acute attacks of sore throat especially during the hot and dry December holidays. On one such occasion, I found myself in the office of the Medical Superintendent  of the New Mulago Hospital. Dr. Y. Semambo(RIP) was expecting me  since my father had called him earlier on.

After the usual pleasantries, he stood up and walked to where I was seated. “Could you please stretch out your legs,’’ he said.

I found it rather odd but I complied.

Wearing a white coat over  a sky blue shirt and navy –blue tie, he bent down to look at my legs. He broke into a big smile, “It’s you. I’m happy to see you once again.”

On realizing that I was perplexed, he went on to tell me the story of how my mother had taken me to him in Old Mulago hospital for treatment. I was two years old and had a high fever associated with vomiting. I badly needed some intravenous fluids. He had punctured me several times but failed to get  into my small veins so he resorted to opening the big superficial vein  just above the right ankle.

“You see this scar; it is the result of that ‘venous cutdown’. You did well and was out of the hospital in two days.”

In my mind I thought that like a bad penny, I had turned up when he least expected me. Thankfully , I was no bad penny but  a symbol of his handiwork  as an internee.

I looked at him fascinated, “Thank you  very much for having saved my life.”

I seized the opportunity to tell him that I was working hard at school to find my way into the Medical school.

He gave me a firm handshake, “ Go for it.  But……… I must warn you that you ‘ll never be paid enough but the service offers other great rewards.”

Since that ‘cutdown’ ,he had risen through the ranks to become the first local doctor to head the only and biggest referral hospital that also served as the only teaching hospital of the Makerere University, faculty of Medicine in Uganda.

From his office, I was taken to the private wing of the hospital to be seen by the Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist: Dr.Tumusiime- Rushedge(RIP). After taking a thorough history and examination, he had treated me for the sore throat and arranged to remove my tonsils during the following long holiday. This was to prevent further attacks and complications.

Later, when I told my mother the ‘venous cutdown’ story, she was also happy that Dr Semambo had had the chance to see the product of his good works. She even asked me whether I had remembered to share my dream of becoming a doctor with him.

Two weeks ago, I attended a wedding where one of my patients had taken the trouble to look out for me and introduce a healthy robust man in his late thirties to me. “This is Fred, my husband,’’ she turned to talk directly to Fred, “you had your family doctor, this lady was our family doctor. She was available to us 24/7.”

I was humbled as Fred gave me a firm handshake.

That same week while I was picking a few groceries from the Game supermarket, a lady in her sixties, dressed in an African print skirt and blouse, stopped her shopping trolley near where I was. She excitedly called out my name ,“Could I please say hello to you?” Unfortunately for me, I had no idea of who she was.

“I remember many years ago, you were on duty in the labour ward in New Mulago hospital. You were heavily pregnant but that night you delivered six women by Caesarian Section. I happened to be the last one you operated on at 6:00AM.”

I nodded my head and smiled, having remembered vividly that whirlwind of a night.

She continued, “Thanks, your daughter is a nurse and has two small children of her own. I know you’ve been away but when you settle in and start practicing again, I’d want to reopen my file.’’

Two days ago, I bumped into one of my most respected and admired teacher at the medical school. He was trying to place me when I second- guessed him. “Professor, I belong to the Graduation Class of 1977.We celebrated forty years of service in March this year.”

“Oh! That’s a big milestone. Actually, I graduated seventeen years before you.’’

I just could not believe it; he looked ten years younger. I thanked him for his selfless service to all and more so for having turned us into the kind of doctors we were. “I remember you emphasizing to us throughout our training that you were training us to work anywhere in the world and that you were after quality and not quantity.”

He had thrown his head back and laughed. “You ‘ll be glad to know that I’m still teaching and hardly a day goes by without me telling the students the very words you ‘ve just told me. I hammer this idea home because I know that in this Noble profession, we‘re dealing with life not commodities.’’

Indeed the professor had added years to his life but his energy, enthusiasm and organized mind had never diminished. I was the richer for having had him as my teacher and mentor. A part of him and many of his kind had become part of me.

Seeing him after all these years, reminded me of this quote by an unknown author: “Our fingerprints cannot be erased from the lives we have touched.”

All our teachers and mentors have also left indelible footprints where they have passed for others to follow them and create their own.

For the young doctors, nurses and other health professionals, strive daily to give of your best and to do the right thing. You live fingerprints on those you touch and footprints where you walk and you can never know when you will bump into each other again and under what circumstances.

If you are reading this post now, thank you for visiting my Blog and please come again. I would be happier if you learned something good out of it. Feel free to leave a comment and to share it with friends. Learning is a lifetime job. Thank you.

 

All work and no play…………….

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy so says an old adage. I can also add that all play and no work makes Jack as poor as a church mouse. It goes without saying that somewhere between these two is what each one of us needs to live a successful life.

At the end one’s life, one wants to congratulate herself/himself for having achieved one’s dreams, goals and vision. Success may mean something different to every person but essentially means doing your best by applying your heart, mind and soul into what you are doing. Success is arguably said to be 99% attitude and 10% aptitude.

The newly graduated, consider yourselves standing with the right foot on second rung and left foot on the first rung of a strong, stable step-ladder leaning against a solid wall. The rungs can be adjusted by you to the height you need to reach. You start to build a life and a career for yourself by first identifying where you are now and then determine where you want to go and how to get there. So take time to know and understand this place with absolute clarity.

Difficult as it is, I would still encourage you all from the onset to work towards creating a balance between work and life. Balance depends on the individual and one size does not fit all:what I may call balance may be overwhelming to you. The work-life balance can only be reached if one is flexible to adjust work hours to life’s needs including family and recreation. First you have to define your priorities in life at that moment in time and then arrange your work to accommodate these important life’s demands.You will feel energized at work, feel in control of your life and have more time and freedom to do what is most important to you.

Without creating the balance appropriate for you, you will feel overwhelmed other than energized while at work . Monday will become your worst day of the week while on Friday afternoon you will be among those most grateful and crying out, “ Thank God it’s Friday.’’

Once you have defined what is most important in your life at that moment in time, you strive to focus on them. In today’s world where many demands are made on each one of us, being focused on the most important to you, stops what is considered ‘urgent’ from drowning out what is most important. After all, what you focus on grows. Distractions and interruptions steal your time and energy. The balance you create should work for you: leaving you with time to spend with those you love, to keep healthy and energized, doing things you love.

One has always to remember that some vital things like lost time, lost opportunities and lost integrity are not recoverable and should be treated with the respect they deserve.

Some years back, Bryan Dyson by then the CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises, talked about this Work and Life Balance. As he climbed to the top of the enterprise, he had observed with clarity that at any one time in life, each one of us is juggling five balls in the air. These include work, family, health, friends and spirit. He was of the view that of these five balls only work is the rubber ball. If dropped, it will bounce back unlike the other four glass balls. If any one of the four glass balls is dropped it could be shattered or badly damaged. Family bonds once damaged are incredibly difficult to rebuild.This was Bryan Dyson’s way of emphasizing what is most important in life to each one of us.

Life is essentially about relationships: between you and God, your family and friends and other people.It is family which gives us the roots of stability and security and the wings to fly whenever we want to go.

Good relationships protect and sustain us throughout our lives.

One common regret at the end of one’s life is :‘I wish I had spent more time with my family’.

Your health is often referred to as your wealth since you have to be healthy to engage in life fully.  You should be managing both your health and time as soon as you join the work force. You cannot afford to sacrifice your health: mind, body and spirit to achieve your goals. It always catches up with you and you will regret it for the rest of your life.

As you start on your journey to where you want to go in life, I would advise you never to lose sight of what is most important to you, not to define yourself by what you do- losing the job may be crushing to you. Develop other identities in your personal life; like mother or father, church volunteer, Rotarian, they cushion you against other loses. You will feel on top of your life only when you have time and freedom to focus on what is most important to you.

As you begin to trust yourself and others, you will learn from them and develop the discipline to transform yourself into whom you want to be.  Life’s experiences are the toughest school you will ever have to go through. You learn lesson by lesson and become a better person. The wisest among us learn from other people’s mistakes. You will develop some key habits and routines to keep your life balanced.  I am advising you go out there and use what you know to get where you want to be. You will get the courage to make the difficult decisions that have to be made. Life will continue to throw challenges at you. Do not run away from them, instead confront them and grow. Over time, you will become more confident as you make decisions and create solutions to the challenges. As I told you earlier on : your value in society is attached to the solutions you create to the problems around you.

Whenever you see any opportunity to improve yourself, take it and make the most of it. The few of you who are empowered enough to employ themselves straight away; it may be tough going but it will be the most liberating thing you will ever do for yourself. You will have the time and freedom to do what you want to do, when you want to. If you do this with passion, you will enjoy it, you will change the world around you and you will have the unique contribution to make toward making your world better and for those you employ. The moment you lose the passion, you will feel out of control and overwhelmed.

Through the challenges you face, you will learn that things change when you change your attitude and thinking  and that money and fame are great bonuses in life. A little comprise is necessary : you do not have to see all that your eyes see or hear all that your ears hear. As long as you never compromise on what is essentially you : values and principles, you will be fine. You will have to learn to be practical and pragmatic and to use Information technology wisely.

You will also learn that sometimes the only way you can get yourself out of a tight corner is to use your sense of humour. You laugh at yourself and when people laugh at you, you laugh with them. You’ll be surprised to see how a simple smile can change everything.

To all the fresh graduates this is my message to you: Anything remains possible for the ‘dare devils’, the dynamic and strong amongst you.

As the Chinese say “Do not fear going forward slowly, fear only to stand still.’’

This is a simple reminder that nothing ever stands still. Do not stand still, move into action. Each small step you take,brings you closer to where you want to be.

One last quote by Brian Tracy: In a time of rapid change, standing still is the most dangerous course of action.’’

Wishing you all the best as you step out into the new and unfamiliar territory. Find comfort in knowing that almost all the achievers you see around you, started off like you.

Thank you for visiting my Blog and reading this post. May it give you the courage to plan your future and later live your dreams. Feel free to share it among your network of friends.

 

 

The Power of The Collective

Each one of us is born as an individual and dies as an individual. In between these two phases, one has to live effectively and leave the world a better place than he/she found it. None of us can produce her/his best work alone; you need others to teach you, mentor you, and sponsor you and friends to encourage you. Many old adages, proverbs and quotations attest to this. Among them are:

Two heads are better than one.

Iron sharpens iron.

None of us is as smart as all of us. By Kenwood Blanchard

John Donne’s poem:    “ No man is an island,

Entire of itself,

Every man is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main………………

One local proverb loosely translated says: You need a functional set of teeth to chew the meat.

Former President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan: Yes we can.

Even the members of a cabinet in a democratic country bear collective responsibility for decisions made in a Cabinet.

In this Digital era, where the internet has become an integral part of our lives, one needs to check out and belong to at least two groups of like-minded people working towards a common goal. You may call it a Tribe or a Community but your combined efforts motivate and energise  your Community to participate fully and create change in Society.

Henry Ford once said: Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress and working together is success.

My late father always advised me to belong to something bigger than myself if I were to realize my full potential. It was not until many years later that I understood what he had meant: It all had to do with synergy-The creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts.

Now it is absolutely clear to me after reading Ash Hoehn’s  They told me there is no ‘I’ in the Team .

He says that when he became the team the team became him. The team absorbs ‘I’………

When the ‘I’ is absorbed then he becomes part of something much more powerful.

This also reminded me that in any chain link, I can be as strong as the strongest and as weak as the weakest.

In a Kindergarten, children are taught to hold hands and stick together in preparation for how they will later live their lives.

In the wild,a pack of the African Wild dogs also known as the cape dogs, are the best examples of team work or joint efforts.  A pack of twenty of them or more lives together, hunts together, eats together. They are very good communicators and among the most efficient hunters. Little wonder then that they always flourish wherever they are.

I have been around for a while and the best example of team work that comes to my mind is the organization of the Cooperative movement in my home country, Uganda. By the late 60’s this movement was at its peak and most farmers belonged to a cooperative society in their district. They grew cash crops like coffee and bought it, sold it together and bargained together with the government of the day for the best price possible. These farmers grew very rich; sent their children to the best schools in the country and some of them to universities abroad, built modern homes and bought lorries to transport the coffee and personal family cars.  Farmers have never been that rich! It was all due to the power of collective action.

Who can forget the thousands of women textile workers of the Russian Empire who organized marches that led to the downfall of the Russian Empire in 1917.

And in today’s well connected world, the youths of France organized through the Social Media developed increased political interest. They engaged in the general election of May 2017 and ended up changing the political landscape. Later in June, the youths of Britain actively participated in the general election; causing a huge upset in the results. It won’t be surprising to us if similar events occurred in other countries.

Today we have many challenges like extreme climatic changes, deforestation, youth unemployment and the best way to develop locally appropriate solutions which we can own is by working together like the wild dogs.

The Kenyans have a proverb that says: Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.

Thank you for visiting my Blog and reading this post. May it inspire you to act and become a member of something bigger than yourself. Do this for your own good and for the good of the community you live in.