The 45 Stones
The 45 Stones
“Every little help creates stepping stones of success.”
Sometimes, the person who comes in your most trying moment is not the person you expect at all.
I grew up in West Africa as a middle child of eight children in a society where girl education was considered a liability.
As I look back into my life, many people had a hand in shinning the light on the stepping stones that shaped my future success.
I just finished high school, and my school principal met with my parents to appeal to them to make sure that I go to the University. As the deadline to purchase the form approached, my hope began to fade away.
One day I was in an open market with my mother when I heard someone call my name. I turned to behold my high school teacher.
She was beaming with smiles as I ran to hug her. She quickly asked me which University I selected as my first choice in the college entrance exam.
My heart dropped. As the best student in high school and second-best WAEC(West African Examination Council) result in the State, taking my college entrance exam was expected. I quickly explained that we were still putting together funds to buy JAMB(Joint Admission & Matriculation Board) form.
With a sense of urgency in her voice, she said the deadline was fast approaching, dipped her hand in her purse, and rummaged for over a minute to bring up crumbled notes that she straightened and added up to forty-five Naira(about 12 cents today).
Tears welled up in my eyes as I thanked her profusely for this unexpected kindness. I made her a promise, a promise to pay back. She told me it was a gift to buy the form that day and made me promise to pass the exam.
That day also, I promised to do random acts of kindness with the little I have, and as often as I could, when opportunity presents itself. That way, my teacher’s thoughtful service may go far.
She invested in me, not out of an abundance of wealth but service to another.
It was an encounter that significantly changed my life.
I have tried so many times to explain what a moment like this did for my family and myself, what it will mean to a little girl watching from home.
That money did not just buy my College entrance exam form, It lit my candle, and I led the way for my whole family to Step-UP.
• It gave me access to knock on doors, and some of them would open because I was there to ask.
• As a first-generation graduate, her act of benevolence helped my family get out of poverty.
• It was hard, and sometimes it was painful. It took early marriage and a whole community for me to fund my way through the University, all of which I am deeply grateful for.
I have partnered with Global Education Drive and other organizations to help other families get ahead by educating their first students.
• Because I am always looking for the next little girl or boy who dares to become the First Super-Star of their Family.
• Because I believe that every child has dreams and aspirations of who they want to be if only someone would help light their candle, then they can rise and knock on doors of opportunities, so they too and their family can Step-Up.
The number one question I get asked is this:
What if they get admission and cannot pay their school fees?
My answer is simple: Please do the little you can make today. A determined first star will always find good help to stand out and Step-UP.
If my teacher had wondered If her N45(about 12cents) grant would be enough, If she had not placed that 45 stones for me to stand on, I genuinely believe my life story would have been different today.
Amaka Chike-Oduh is an Author, Clinical Pharmacist and Drug-Induced Diseases Prevention Specialist. www.amakachike.com, globaledudrive.org.