Part of the Explore your Why – 9 part series
Why do you invest in African women’s education?
Why invest in over there and not here?
What is your connection to African women?
These are the questions I get asked. We provide tertiary education scholarships to women in developing countries through our YouMeWe Foundation, and we have interviewed African women pioneers on WisdomExchangeTV.com with the goal of African women leaders educating future African women leaders.
My connection to Africa was influenced by:
- A sense of guilt for how the West has often treated Africa and Africans throughout history.
- A sense of overwhelming arrogance I feel the West demonstrates with a “we will save you” mentality and actions.
- The “more harm than help” reality created by Westerners using misguided information in their attempt to ‘help’ communities that has caused more social damage than social relief.
- I feel a connection to the various cultures.
Above all, I am inspired by and gravitate to people who drive transformational change. These people often go uncelebrated. For these reasons, and my belief that women’s intuition, integrity, humility, perseverance, and compassion can create a more collaborative and inclusive world.
On my first trip to Kenya, while attending a ceremony hosted by the late Dr. Douglas Carew, chairman of African International University, his welcome message aligned my connection to African women leaders.
Dr. Carew shared that Westerns often bring their “stuff” to Africa, things Africa doesn’t need, the real need in Africa is leadership.
“The biggest problem in Africa today is not AIDS,
poverty, disease, education, or urbanisation;
the biggest problem is LEADERSHIP.
When moral leaders with integrity and justice arise,
then Africa’s problems will be solved.”
The second consideration of Explore your Why is empathy. Who do you feel connected to?
While exploring who you want to impact, consider when listening to the news what people or issues pull at your heartstrings the most.
Empathy means you have an understanding or share feelings of another. It can manifest because of an intense life experience, such as a family member being diagnosed with a disease or having an accident. Often people are connected to a cause because of who they know who has been impacted by it.
But that is not always the case. You don’t need to understand or share feelings to have compassion for someone’s situation or circumstance.
The difference between empathy and compassion is described in The Book Of Joy by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams, “Empathy is simply experiencing another’s emotion, compassion is a more empowered state where we want what is best for the other person.” The Dalai Lama describes it best. “If we see a person who is being crushed by a rock, the goal is not to get under the rock and feel what they are feeling; it is to help to remove the rock.” The first situation would be empathy. The second would be compassion.
Being empathetic is a valued trait. However, knowing who you are compassionate toward, regardless of personal circumstances, will drive the realisation of your why (aka purpose) because it comes from your authentic self.
Once realised, who you feel compassion toward can lead to who will be the beneficiary of your why. This will influence your career choice, volunteer efforts, and charitable giving.
- Who or what do you feel the most compassion toward?
- Why does it pull at your heartstrings?
- What do you believe about this group or situation?
- What do you understand about this group or situation?
- Is your connection deep enough that you will persevere? How do you know?
Once you stop and contemplate the who to contribute to, then exploring the how becomes much more focused. But first, lets will reflect on what motivates you, as this will impact who, where and why to consciously contribute – consistently.
Until next time, make your contributions count.
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About the Conscious Contributor
Suzanne F. Stevens, CSP, Conscious Contributor™ Cultivator
Social entrepreneur |International Speaker | Pioneer | Host | Philanthropist | Author
Lead tomorrow’s legacy today.
#YouMeWe Group of Initiatives | Cultivate, Celebrate, Co-create conscious-contributions™
Book launch coming soon: YouMeWe: lead tomorrow’s legacy today
2017 National President: Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS)
Awards: TIAW World of Difference Recipient for women economic empowering
Accreditation: Suzanne is one of 64 Certified Speaking Professionals (CSP) in Canada and is in the exclusive 15% of speakers who have this designation internationally.