Today I am bringing you the amazing story of the “forgotten people” as written by Penny Godfrey who accompanied me to the frontline.
For those of who don’t know, and I suspect many of you do, I take business leaders to the frontline not only to experience what life is really like for people in third world countries post disaster, but to also help us to find sustainable solutions for these communities.
These solutions ultimately lift people out of poverty, despair, desperation and hopelessness and back into a life that is independent and self-sufficient again.
I’ve found that business leaders who come with me to the frontline experience the journey of a lifetime…and in return they give a lifetime of experience to those they help.
You see, my Be The Change: Business Leaders on the frontline program takes the best, most inspiring and visionary business leaders and uses the skills they’ve honed in business to solve challenging real-life problems in some of the poorest and most marginalised communities in third world locations.
If you’d like to find out more about my Be The Change: Business Leaders on the frontline program, simply click here
Penny Godfrey: “The forgotten families.”
The child, around two years old, naked from the waist down, his filthy, ragged vest hanging off one shoulder, ambled alone, in and out of the traffic. My driver gasped. Vehicles slowed down to avoid the tiny figure until he made it safely back to his home on the central reservation. Welcome to India.
“The purpose of our life needs to be positive”, the Dalai Lama said, and with that in mind, I caught my onward flight from Delhi to Nepal. In just a few hours, I would join international humanitarian Linda Cruse for an insight into her world of compassion and service, helping victims of the 2015 earthquake.
A hastily-erected camp, set amidst the rubble, dust and noise of Kathmandu, is where I first see Linda in action. With her striking blonde hair and loud, infectious laugh, she’s a beacon of hope to people who have suffered so much. “How can we help you to earn money?” she asks, family by family, starting with the most vulnerable. It’s intense, time-consuming work, moving from one humid shack to the next, carefully documenting each story, while figuring out how to provide ‘A hand up, not a hand out’.
“You’re a business-woman” she tells Pubitra, a frail 42-year widow, who physically clings to Linda like the life-line she is. A mother of six, she’s now selling enough masala tea to feed her family and send her children to school.
We head to the mountains, to Devpur, which enjoys breath-taking views of the Himalayas. Living conditions are tough, with 95% of homes destroyed, and most livelihoods lost. But there is so much joy here. The plastic Kerplunk game I take to the local school is met with gasps of fascination. Snap is played over and over to howls of delight. The local shop-keeper’s shy daughter, in her frayed, pink tutu is so happy to see me each day to practise her reading. One young chap, with excellent English, gives me a Nepalese rupee, and is over the moon with the English penny I offer in return. What this village has in abundance is community spirit and camaraderie. “Poverty doesn’t equal unhappiness” Linda had told me, and I see it for myself, first-hand.
Just before leaving I meet Laxmi, an 18-year old primary school teacher who lives in a small shed with her parents. Her father slowly, methodically carries enormous tree trunks up the hill, to generate fires hot enough to make bricks, so he can painstakingly rebuild their family home. He wears white, in mourning for his parents, killed during the earthquake. Their hospitality, warmth and dignity, in the face of such suffering, makes me cry. “Please come and see us again” they ask softly. “I will. I promise.” I say
I’m reluctant to leave. There’s so much work to be done. But I depart with great energy and purpose. I went to give but all I did was gain. What a trip. “Was it life-changing?” People ask. Quite possibly.
Thank you Penny! I hope you enjoyed her personal account of her trip to the frontline.
Lots of love
P.S. I’ve got such an exciting announcement coming up in the next week. Be sure to keep an eye on your inbox! It includes a link to watch a short video recorded in front of an inspiring and live audience last week…YOU WILL NOT WANT TO MISS IT!!