Homeless to CEO

Today’s story is about the founder and CEO of Christopher Gardner international holdings, Chris Gardner. A lot of people know his life story from the Hollywood blockbuster – The Pursuit of Happyness but have no idea who he is.

Growing up, Chris had a difficult and troubled childhood. At a young age, his parents separated and his mother remarried. His stepfather made life difficult for him and his family. He physically abused his mum and siblings constantly and he was always on the wrong side of the law. Because of this, Chris mother was falsely convicted twice. Having no one to care for them, him and his siblings had to move into a foster home at 8 years old. Chris struggled.

As an adult, he got married but afterwards the married failed. He became a medical equipment salesman but failed miserably at it, his girlfriend at the time deserted him because of the state of his finances. He became homeless with his son and had to spend nights in different motels, parks, airports and one time, a public toilet. Like it showed in The Pursuit of Happyness, Chris toiled endlessly at a brokerage firm in the daytime and stood in long queues at homeless shelters, so him and his son could have a roof over their heads.

Chris Garder

Finally, in 1982, Chris passed the licensing exam and became a full-time employee of Dean Witter, a brokerage firm. 5 years later in 1987, he established his own brokerage firm, Gardner Rich & Co. where he owns 75% of the stock. His firm today has offices in New York, San Francisco and Chicago. Chris story is one of Perseverance. It teaches us that giving up should never be an option.

Don’t quit. Never give up trying to build the world you can see, even if others can’t see it. Listen to your drum and your drum only. It’s the one that makes the sweetest sound.” – Simon Sinek

Angel of Burundi

Today’s story is about beautiful Burundi woman Marguerite Barankitse.

She has been compared to great people like Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa. She is fondly called “Angel of Burundi” back home.

Marguerite’s journey began back in 1993 when tensions had grown between two major ethnic groups called the Hutus and the Tutsis. During this tension Maggie, a Tutsi, fled and sought safety at the house of her archbishop, she tried protecting her seven children as well as 72 other friends and their children who were all Hutu’s. unfortunately, the building they hid ta were invaded by Tutsi rebels.

Maggie was tied to a chair and stripped naked, they didn’t kill her because she was a Tutsi but right there they murdered all 72 Hutus. After the murder, the head of her best friend was thrown on her lap. Marguerite somehow succeeded in paying a small ransom to save the lives of 25 of her friend’s children who alive, along with seven children, four Hutu and three Tutsi who she was already treating as her own, she sought out a means for them all to survive. The number of children in her care continued to increase and soon she has a total of 200 orphaned children to care for. She resorted to begging around for food and land for they all to survive. After a while she was able to successfully begin a home for kids called the Maison Shalom known as the House of Peace in Ruyigi, a province in Burundi.

Marguertite Batankitse with the Children of Maison Shalom

Now Maison Shalom has grown from just one home to a large compound with over three thousand homes including schools, hospitals, farms and even a bank. It has provided a loving and safe home to over twenty thousand children.

Maggie story should inspire us to want to help in whatever way we can.

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching and lifting people up” – John Holmes

You Can Too

Today’s story is about Athletic Coordinator Matt Gage.

One hot afternoon in a small town in Iowa, 9-year-old Matt went swimming with his cousin, as he surfaced he noticed that as he swung his right hand his left hand didn’t follow, suddenly he realized that the left side of his entire body was unable to move, thankfully his cousin pulled him out of the water and prevented him from drowning. Matt passed out right after and was rushed to a nearby hospital.

It was later established that Matt had suffered a stroke and the chances of him ever gaining consciousness were slim, and even if he did, he would live the rest of his life as a vegetable. As a child, he said his dream was to become the next Michael Jordan. Matt’s dad urged him to try to move his leg but he always said, “I can’t”. One day his dad said “Matt, what did “can’t” ever do for you? If you say you can’t do it you’re not gonna do it, if you don’t start believing in yourself and believing something can happen, that you can get better, then you’re gonna be in a wheelchair”

Matt said that was the was the day he decided to not let the stroke define him.

Two weeks after his surgery, he lifted his left leg, days later, he moved his left arm as well. Matt was walking before he left the hospital. He continued playing basketball through junior high and high school.

Matt says he feels that God used the stroke in many ways for him to not only impact others for him (God), but hopefully to give some of those people hope too.  

Whatever your story is, fight through it.

No matter what your story is, never let it stop you.

Read more about Matt’s story here  

The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t. – Henry Ward Beecher

Pride Niagara: The man who made Niagara a better place for his community.

Growing up Phil’s always knew he wasn’t a heterosexual male and in the 80’s “coming out” wasn’t the easiest of tasks. Phil Gourlay was born on the 18th of April 1978 in the small town of Acton, Ontario. He studied human resources at Sheridan college in 2000 and afterwards worked in banking for a decade. Homosexuality is something that’s still somewhat frowned upon. A person’s sexuality has a direct impact on their health, the problem doesn’t lie with them but lies with the attitude and behaviors of the society around them. This can be challenging especially in a small region like Niagara.

A few years ago, Phil developed Pride Niagara, an event created for the LGBT community. Previously, this event used to be held in the woods with only its attendees being aware of it. Seeing such a region as Niagara with 12 municipalities and nothing which catered to the needs of the LGBT community Phil took it upon himself, using his event planning skills to turn this hidden event to a public highly anticipated annual event with over 80 vendors, numerous sponsors, contests and lighting the falls with rainbow colors. Phil said he did this because growing up gay in Niagara is hard, he knows what it’s like to not be accepted. The event was created as a platform of acceptance and a medium for people to show themselves to the world. Since then this event has given people the boldness to be more open about their sexuality. Now people don’t need the Pride anymore to show who they really are.

He says the first pride in the park was one project he considers the most significant in his entire career. Because of this people are no longer ashamed of their truths. 

Pride is about empowerment, Because of Phil Niagara is a more welcoming place.

To learn more about Pride Niagara, Please go here.

“Courage is being yourself everyday in a world that tells you to be someone else”

 

The Doctorpreneur

Today’s post is about 24-year old Dr. Adedunmola Oluwo.

Dedun moved to Debrecen, Hungary at the age of 17 to pursue a medical degree, one year after school she started her first business, Hair by Dedun which catered to every hair texture there is, that same year she also started DedunCooks, a Nigerian food catering business as she quickly realized the opportunity which stood before her.  The university had quite a few students from her home country with nowhere around that catered to their food needs.  Two years after, while still running both businesses successfully, Dedun started up another outfit called Dedun’s Cakes, a cake and pastry company also solely run by her. And in 2016, she started Belle Artistry by Dedun, a makeup and beauty business. All four businesses run with no help whatsoever while still managing to go through medical school without any failure. These helped her gain utmost financial independence from her retired single mother back home in Nigeria.

Dr. Dedun Oluwo

Her determination finally paid off when she successfully sponsored herself to Rome Business School to study M.Sc. Health Management. She says she shares her story to inspire others, it doesn’t matter what your situation is, you can always challenge yourself to achieve great things whether you are a 17-year-old like she was or older. She is also a motivational speaker and writer; she aims to use her voice to develop the drive in the millennial generation as well as the younger ones to achieving the unachievable by harnessing your immediate environment. Dedun runs an inspirational blog called “Dr. Dedun – The Doctorpreneur” and a YouTube Channel.

The Doctorpreneur

Dedun’s story is one that should encourage people to challenge themselves, more.

“Success is the sum of small efforts – repeated day in and day out” – Robert Collier

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will” – Vince Lombardi

Burn Survivor: Life through the eyes of someone who looks different

 

Today’s post is about beauty vlogger Shalom Nchom’s remarkable story.

Back home in Nigeria at about nine years old, Shalom’s mother owned a grocery store on a university campus, where she used to fry fast food for students. One night Shalom got very sleepy and was told to go into the store to sleep, on getting there she got scared and ran back outside to where her mother was, got a sleeping mat and laid under a table close by. Shalom was suddenly woken up by scorching pain, the scathing hot oil her mother fried with had poured all over her head, face, shoulder and hands. Shalom says she tried to rip off the pain, unknowing what she was ripping off was her skin. After four months in the hospital she was finally sent back home…to a new life.

Shalom after returning from the hospital

She says people began to look at her like she was a monster. “One of my neighbors, we used to play together, came in my house and when he saw me he ran away crying”.

An aunt who lived in the United states helped Shalom get a visa to fly back with her and get reconstructive surgery. Even after the surgery she was left with noticeable scars. She said she started considering suicide.

She grew up and discovered makeup which helped her regain her confidence. Today Shalom is a fast rising influential beauty blogger. She says despite the terrible ordeal, seeing other people in worse situations made her thankful. Shalom shares full details of that horrific day on her YouTube channel. She hopes her videos can inspire not only burn victims but also people in general to love who they see when they look in the mirror.

Shalom showing her makeup skills

Shalom is indeed an inspiring woman.

“Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful” – Sophia Loren

Photo Credit –  Shalom Blac’s Instagram