Small Victories

I don’t know much about love either,

except that it gets all mixed up with things

 that don’t have anything to do with it. 

And that it’s awfully hard to find.

                                                            Marita Golden

I recently read the story of an exceptional girl in Canada. Her name is Na’ama Uzan. She was born two years after her elder brother Nadav. She grew up seeing her brother suffer serious health challenges; from recurrent seizures to speech abnormalities and other neurological delays. Her brother has Angelman syndrome which is a rare Neuro-developmental disorder with no known cure. Knowing her brother sickness was incurable, she came up with a novel idea to raise $100 to contribute towards the research for a cure for the syndrome. To achieve this, in the spring of last year 2014 when she was still 4 years old, she started a lemonade stand in the community where they live hoping that by selling glasses of lemonade she can make up the money. Over the months the stand evolved to include muffins and chocolates among other things. This according to the little girl was all aimed at making a contribution to a research foundation for Angelman syndrome, so they can quickly find a cure for her brothers’ sickness.

When community members got to know the purpose of the lemonade stand they went out of their way to contribute to the fund and as of today she has raised a little over $25,000 for the foundation with another $21,000 raised on her behalf by parents of a boy who also has the disease in California, USA.

In respect of her contribution the Foundation For Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics (FAST) has been able to establish the Na’ama Uzan FAST-TRAC Award (Targeted Research to Advance a Cure),  and promised that every cent she raised is going to Angelman specific research.

She made a difference in the world and most importantly her brother’s life at age 5. She wasn’t a genius or an entrepreneur, or an athlete. She was just a little girl who wanted her brother to be better.

It is not by spectacular achievements 

that man can be transformed, but by will.

                                                               Henrik Ibsen

A lot of times we have been made to believe that it takes a lot to make a difference, that we need all the money in the world or all the talent in the world or that our little contributions will not matter, that only the big ones count. And that’s the malady of today’s society. So we grow up waiting to “make it” before we think of making a difference, we focus on acquisitions so that we can be better positioned to make a difference and yet the irony is that even with all we have and strive for, we still miss out on making a difference in the way that it counts.

The small things are the ones that matter a lot, the homeless man you pass on your way to work every day does not need you to build him a house, he just might need a warm meal, the destitute girl that greets you as you enter your office building may just need your advice and a listening ear. Small victories aggregate to become big ones.

If you cannot help in small measure, by what force do you think you can give when the measure is big. Charity has never been known to demand a lot from us it is always the least that it begs for, attention is what it screams for but never gets. Oftentimes we throw money at circumstances that we could have talked people out of, situations that a listening ear could have made a difference we write checks for.

Don’t get me wrong, money is good to solve problems and propagate charity and indeed make a difference, but paying attention is much better. Because it’s in paying attention that we can really know the problems money can solve and the ones human communication can solve.

How do you make a difference? There is no syllabus for this, and you can start from where you are presently. Do not look for recognition and awards because that is not the goal. You can volunteer to serve food in a soup kitchen near you; you can give out your used clothes to the homeless man on your street. You can offer conversation time to a destitute that seems to need it. It is endless the small things we can do to make a difference in somebody’s life. You might not be appreciated by the person or by society but you are laying a solid foundation to be a better you.

There was this single father who was left with his daughter after his divorce with his wife. As the girl was growing he found it hard to make her hair, as simple as that sounds to women. Eventually deciding he needed help he approached a cosmetologist colleague who gave him advice to get some training in hair dressing. He did, and today his daughter is the better for it, he has made tremendous difference in his daughters’ life. Even if she doesn’t appreciate the gesture now, in later years she will understand the sacrifice her dad made so he could make an awesome difference in her life.

Little things not big things.

As you reflect on these stories and the suggestions swirling in your mind about how best to make a difference, remember that it is about giving and not counting the cost, doing good without expecting a reward. Go out there and make a positive difference in your community.

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