This is the time of year when I think about the blank slate in front of me and imagine how I might paint my own picture in the upcoming year. 2020 taught us we may be fools to think we can predict with any accuracy, the filling of our years with things we will do. It has not, however, robbed us of thinking about who we might become along the route.
2020 has not been all bad. It hasn’t all been difficult. Nor has it been without blessings, and unexpected gifts of complete wonderment and gratitude. One of those gifts worth my sharing as we turn the page to a new year, is that which I received from a young man in Kenya, Daniel (Mwaana) Njapit, in early December.
Here is the story, as I first posted it on Facebook, followed by Daniel’s response.
Just over ten years ago, when I was still teaching at RDL, a small group of students and I embarked upon a life-changing journey. The first year, our goal was to raise money to build two additional classrooms, for the grade 7 and 8 classes, at the crowded Enkare Ngiro government school. We also committed to sponsor, by way of paying tuition, the top male and female grade eight students to attend high school. Daniel Njapit was one of those students. Jim and I met him in that crowed school when we went to see the new classrooms in 2011. This year, in early December, Daniel came home to his beloved village of Ewaso Ngiro, and stopped by the new school with a letter of thanks. Daniel has just completed his UNIVERSITY Degree! It was told to me first hand, that he arrived with tears in his eyes, to thank those of us who have walked this journey with him. To say I am proud of him, seems so much less than I feel. We only opened the door; Daniel walked right through it and did all the hard work on his own. He has chosen to be a leader; he deserves all the recognition in the world. We may have planted the seed, but Daniel watered it, nurtured it, cared for it, loved it and brought it into fruition. He is a remarkable young man. Congratulations Daniel!
Here is Daniel’s (Njapit Mwaana) Response:
I don’t know where to start,
I am full of tears of joy as I write this. It’s been an amazing journey, full of challenges and hurdles but also full of love and passionate support.
I don’t know how to express my sincere gratitudes and thanks to you all. You’ve been an amazing family, you supported me and given me an opportunity to be the best version of myself. Thank you so much. Your impact to this community has been great, you’ve created many opportunities to many kids and I must also thank you for that.
This is a great milestone for me and it wouldn’t have been possible without your unwavering support and love. I believe I now have a responsibility to help change my community to a better people through the smallest acts of kindness. I believe that we can create a better future when we believe in others. It’s my turn now to try and help the best I can for I know a candle doesn’t loose its flame by lighting others.
Thank you so much Red Deer Lake School and its entire fraternity for your support and love. It’s been an amazing journey. I made a lovely family out of you all! Thank you so much!
I am the young man in the story.
I am the young man in the story.
This is the line that stopped me in my tracks. This is the line that has caused me to know what I am meant to learn from 2020. I am the person in my story. Other characters may enter and exit the stage on which my story is told. Some of them play key roles. Others stay on stage just long enough to drop pebbles into my pond, before turning away to continue their own stories. But I am the person in my story.
Daniel had many people play supporting roles in his story. I know only a few. He had Merry, one of our project’s founding partners, who took on the role of surrogate Mum for all the students. He had David, who continues the legacy of the project by overseeing the operation of Building Hope Academy. With visits from Elizabeth, Glendon, Susan, Darryl, Victoria, Emma, Karen, Hannah, Ryan, Randy, Rick, Carmen, Chloe, Barb, Jim and I, plenty of pebbles of support were dropped in Daniel’s pond. Other supporting actors sent money, letters of encouragement and followed his progress. He had the full support of his community behind him. And yet, Daniel was the young man in the story. Daniel was the person with the dream, who accepted the opportunity, who weathered every single challenge, who stood steadfast and who created his amazing story of success.
2021 is before us. When we, one trip around the sun from now, look back on our lives, only one thing will be true. We will be the person in our story. We will have risen each day, made each decision, formed each attitude, and chosen each perspective to hopefully allow us to stand centre stage and proudly say, ‘I am the person in that story’.
I wish you a happy 2021. May it be the year where you create the story of your dreams. And may you have the confidence to stand proudly on centre stage and fully own what you have created.
My inquiry for you this week is ‘What story am I creating?’
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. She has particular expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to create your unique story.