Saturday, 27 December 2014

How Can Girls Touch Lives at Christmas? - By Eniola Deborah Oladipo

Christmas means many things to many girls all over the world. For one, it’s the glorious day of finally opening up that latest high tech gadget she’s been pleading for her parents to buy. For another girl, perhaps over an ocean or two, it is another day of hardship and solitude. It is only a matter of birth lottery that separates such opposite lifestyles. However, every girl can play her part to fill the gap, to merge the worlds. Every one faces a war, invisible to others, or at least diminished. I have a friend that struggles to keep up at school because she is at the mercy of an abusive, impulsive father. How can someone hurting touch the lives of others? I have another friend that recently lost her mother to cancer. Isn’t it difficult for a grieving heart to comfort another? Divorces, illnesses, abuse, addiction are many more of the invisible wars that people wake up to all over the world. But amidst the pain, isn’t it remarkable that helping and touching the lives of others tends to even have a therapeutic effect on the doer. God certainly knew what he was doing by creating this. Through helping others, we can heal ourselves.
Often times we rob ourselves of the comfort and support that we deserve to have because we don’t share, we don’t trust, we don’t unite.  During this festive season, wouldn’t it be amazing if girls across communities each organized sessions, get to know each other, support each other and come together to plan a surprise in their community. Be it a play, a charity event or even voluntary work at a block of shops, a little goes a long way. Even a sincere compliment or a smile at a weary face can travel miles beyond our intentions. Empowerment means above all things sustainability, and can have a ripple effect of seismic magnitude. It is important for every girl to understand that Christmas doesn’t last forever. What will happen when the tree is put away, when the lights are taken off?
Education and enlightenment does not only happen in the classroom, learning a skill can feed an entire family. The culture of gift giving extends deeply into the seasonal celebrations of Christmas, but what if the entire ‘gift culture system’ was revamped; girls would give their time instead. This could mean spending time with a boy’s mother who is sick in the hospital or even just coming over for movies and popcorn. There is nothing better than knowing somebody is willing to give up precious time just to be your presence at such time of the year.
Gandhi’s principle of being the change you want to see is pure truth. It means treating others how you wish to be treated. In order to ‘touch’ lives we need to recognize them and appreciate them.
Touching lives can even start from our own homes, the greatest ideas often do.

Eniola Oladipo is the winner of the Girl Pride Circle Christmas Essay Competition! She is a 16 year old SS3 student of the Vivian Fowler Memorial College for Girls, Lagos. Last year, she was declared the first prize winner of the Channels Book Club Prize for Literature.

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