Inspiration for this blog came from an email received from Donna McGibney, who very graciously permitted me to share her story. It is a story that will resonate with many of you and one I hope will also inspire you.
She was just seven years old when her 2nd grade teacher, Mrs Joan Finks, whispered the most profound words to her, “you can be anything you want to be.” These simple yet powerful eight words left an indelible mark on Donna, guiding her throughout her life’s journey. Donna captures the moment beautifully, “my ears heard her words and my heart trusted that she was a truth-teller. I carried those few words with me from that moment forward, believed them to be true when I struggled, and held on dearly to them when I thought I was going under.”
Donna went on to become an educator herself, sharing the impactful legacy left by Mrs. Finks with others. Today, Donna through our Education Fund Program is supporting the education of a girl child. Those words shaped her perspective and became a springboard for her to want to influence others through small acts of kindness.
In a world often dominated by the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it is easy to underestimate the power of small acts of kindness. These seemingly insignificant gestures, like holding a door open for someone, offering a genuine smile, uttering a kind word, or lending a helping hand, may appear inconsequential at first glance. However, beneath their unassuming nature lies a remarkable potential to transform lives and create a ripple effect of kindness.
While grand gestures often grab headlines, it is the accumulation of small acts of kindness that truly shapes the world. We have all been recipients of such gestures, whether it’s someone holding an elevator for us or offering a compliment. In those fleeting moments, spirits are lifted and the cycle of kindness continues. These instances, whether as givers or receivers, are forever etched in our memory.
“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
I have my own treasure trove of small acts of kindness that when I remember them, evokes warm and comforting feelings. They remind me of our shared humanity and influences how I interact with people I meet. My father passed away when I was just ten years old and in the ensuing years, I encountered incredible kindness which shaped my view of the world. Small acts of kindness encourage empathy by prompting us to consider the feelings of others.
In a world where negativity sometimes overshadows the good, embracing and propagating small acts of kindness can serve as a beacon of hope. Remember, even the tiniest gesture can ignite a spark of positivity, and collectively, these sparks have the potential to illuminate the path towards a kinder and more compassionate society. Imagine a world where everyone does one random act of kindness every day!
Whenever we visit communities, I am often struck by the kindness and generosity of the parents we meet. Most of them live below the poverty threshold but when we interview their child and accept them into our Education Fund Program, for example, they are determined to show their gratitude in the best way they can. For the Maasai community this often takes the form of handmade beaded jewellery that is treasured by those to whom it is presented.
It is heartwarming to observe the presence of small acts of kindness among young students and teachers in the schools we support. These gestures can create a positive and supportive atmosphere within educational settings. Acts of kindness, no matter how small, have the power to uplift spirits and create a sense of community.
In the primary schools where our feeding programs run, students are required to bring their own containers or plates for meal service. There have been occasions when certain students who lack plates receive assistance from their peers. In such cases, a student might finish their meal swiftly and then pass along their plate or lid of their container to a friend in need, ensuring that everyone is able to enjoy a hot lunch.
The teachers at Ngwata Primary School show incredible kindness towards their students, especially those coming from challenging backgrounds from the neighboring informal settlement. Their actions reflect a deep commitment to not only imparting education but also ensuring the overall well-being of these young learners.
By going beyond their roles as educators and stepping in to rescue children from dangerous situations, such as dumpsites where they go to look for food scrapes, the teachers are demonstrating a genuine concern for their students. This kind of support can have a profound impact on the lives of these children, giving them a sense of security and belonging that goes beyond the classroom.
Some teachers knowing the family’s circumstances will provide food rations to learners so as to address the issue of food scarcity that many face. This kind deed not only helps the children stay focused and engaged in their studies but also eases the burden on their families.
The school also allows young learners who cannot afford a school uniform to attend class in regular clothes. This exemplifies the magic of small acts of kindness. It goes beyond appearances and speaks to the heart of what education should be: a safe space where every student feels accepted. By choosing empathy over conformity, the school creates an environment for a compassionate and inclusive society.
Acts of kindness and compassion are frequently observed at Kyangoma Special Needs School, where young learners naturally demonstrate a sense of mutual care. They willingly assist their peers who, due to their physical limitations, are unable to feed themselves or have or mobility issues. These instances reinforce my belief in the innate goodness present within all of us.
The special needs students from Kyangoma who are enrolled at the mainstream technical college, Utangwa Youth Polytechnic, frequently experience kindness from their fellow students. During our recent visit to the institution, we witnessed a heartwarming scene where two young women we are supporting received help from their peers in preparing for their dance performance, ensuring they looked their best.
Small acts of kindness offer us to glimpse the inherent goodness that exists in the human spirit, reminding us that we have the capacity to make the world a better place, with the simplest of gestures.
As we go about life remember to walk with kindness, you never know whose existence could be profoundly impacted by your words or actions, often in ways we may never expect.