Happiness: Service above self

This article inspired me on service above self.Its hares my common theme on the search for happiness through service to those in need. It demonstrates that the real happy people are those serving others. Its about a sense of purpose and living a life with a mission much more than our life’s treasures.The article is by Neal from Star Tribune in Minnesota.

 A driven executive found her next purpose

I need to get flies off the face of that girl

Article by: NEAL  St. Thomas of Star Tribune

Lori Pappas developed a knack for automating offices. In 1976, Olivetti hired Pappas as one of its first female sales reps. By 1980, the now-divorced single mother was supporting her kids selling Sperry Univac mainframes to manufacturers.

She launched her own software company in 1983 — JobBoss Software — serving small manufacturers and machine shops. The company made the Inc. 500 list of fast-growing private companies in 1991.

Pappas was named the Minnesota High Tech Association’s Entrepreneur of the Year among small enterprises in 1998. A year later, Pappas, then 50, sold her 100-plus employee business for $18.4 million in cash and stock to a British company. She netted several million from the transaction.

“The business had defined me,” Pappas, 62, recalled. “I was burned out and wanted to do something else.”

She bought a $1 million house on Seattle’s Puget Sound, took up golf, fancy dinner parties and exotic travel. On the outside, she appeared successful and happy. Inside she was “disconnected and empty.”

She had lost her purpose.

During several trips to Africa, she became fascinated by the indigenous people of Namibia, Angola, Niger and Ethiopia. The tribal people lived in huts and struggled to find food and water amid crop-killing droughts.

“Yet, they experience true joy with each other and their community,” Pappas observed. One day in 2006, a young girl in Niger with flies in her eyes and sores on her face approached Pappas to ask for a water bottle.

Pappas had found her next purpose. “This time it was to help others,” recalled Pappas.

Once again the driven executive, Pappas spent more than $300,000 researching, interviewing experts and studying development aid in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2008 she launched nonprofit Global Team for Local Initiatives (www.gtli.us).

“I realized that I could use my business and networking skills to help indigenous people help themselves to a healthier, better life,” Pappas said. “I needed to get the flies off the face of that girl.”

Today, the Puget Sound house is for sale and Pappas has moved to Northfield, Minn., closer to her children and grandchildren. She struck a strategic relationship with retired Navy Adm. William Fallon. He introduced her to influential leaders at development agencies such as CARE and Save the Children.

Her Global Team, which employs 25 Ethiopians, is focused on a tribe of 15,000 pastoralists called the Hamar in the southwest corner of Ethiopia. The tribe is surrounded by political instability, drought, disease and malnutrition. A male-dominated culture shunned female equality and basic hygiene. The encroaching desert and closed borders mean the Hamar can no longer herd livestock as they once did.

Papas, with the eventual, grudging approval of male chiefs whom she cultivated over months, is working through a cadre of emerging female leaders on issues of literacy, human rights for women and girls, clean water, hygiene and sanitation, small-scale agriculture, a jewelry business and a Hamar-based trading system.

She spends about eight months each year in Ethiopia and four months in the United States fundraising and planning.

Living in extreme conditions, eating little and enjoying a rare shower with just a “trickle of water,” Pappas said, are rewarded by small progress, such as seeing women with a growing voice in village councils, earning money and leading education and health classes.

Rewarded with joy

“Joy comes when I apply the skills and confidence I gained during my career to the tangled issues of helping people help themselves in this remote land,” she said.

Pappas, who doesn’t take a salary, also has benefited from several U.S. AID grants. She uses incentives, such as chickens for families who agree to use new pit latrines away from the new wells and crops. Dysentery and related diseases are starting to decline. Women are able to spend more time raising small crops, learning, and less time walking miles to polluted wells for water.

“Before Lori came, we were worse off than the baboons in the jungle,” a Hamar woman told a Global Team publication. “We were sold into marriage, had no rights, no voice and forced to do all the work. Just a commodity to be used.”

Fallon, a big supporter, believes U.S. national security is partly rooted in our ability to help people in developing countries achieve a better life. Other Pappas supporters include a couple of dozen Rotary Clubs and a growing network of individual admirers.

Martha Paas, an economics professor, and Faress Bhuiyan, a developmental economist at Carleton College, have enlisted other faculty to help develop curriculum on the Hamar and grass-roots development. Bhuiyan and Carleton student interns are researching Global Team’s work, including extended site visits next year to study the model and results.

“Lori is a numbers person and quite capable, and she began collecting data early on,” Paas said. “Our students can use the data.”



HAPPINESS: Be kind as you celebrate Christmas

By Aliker David Martin

Today, give a stranger one of your smiles.  It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.  ~Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Aliker uses Smart Board

How do you celebrate an achievement? It could be through a hearty laughter or dancing like the football stars celebrating a touchdown. While other people celebrate Christmas season by eating and drinking, I chose an act of kindness that would bring me fulfillment.

One of my best friends invited me over for Christmas with a fully paid flight. We met in Africa while he was an intern student of Notre Dame. I felt obligated to pass on the kindness. I decided to spend time in an elementary school visiting pupils with autism before they could break off for Christmas. I was greatly inspired by the world of possibilities in the lives of these children. Indeed, disability is not inability. My greatest sensation was seeing the children use Apple installed operating system in Smart Boards. Smart Board is an interactive white board developed by Smart Technologies. Relating and listening to these children gave me a strong sense of purpose. Any effort to meet our sense of purpose brings us happiness. Besides, I also treated my self in the evening to a great dish and some drinks. If you treat your self-kindly, it will reciprocate the gesture by bringing you joy and high spirits.

Having said that, I implore you to identify a sense of purpose this festive season and be kind. In Dalai Lama’s words, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion” Give yourself a treat to find happiness this festive season. A good massage could be so rewarding to the body just like an act of kindness brings you inner joy and fulfillment.

Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year

HAPPINESS: Christmas to a childless mother

By Aliker David Martin

God, If I can’t have what I want, let me want what I have” Anonymous

My children are your children

As a child growing up in Africa, the excitement in Christmas was in new clothes, shoes and eating the occasional dish of rice and chicken. Listening to the priest’s sermon today, the statement “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus” captivated me. In my mind, I imagined, “What does Christmas mean to a childless mother? In my culture, the body of a childless mother, is passed through a broken wall for burial as a sign of bad omen while in America, it looks like a lifestyle. Childlessness causes low self esteem. Many childless mothers bear a great feeling of loss and poor health. Take a look at childlessness as talent. We all cannot have the same talent. I may not have the talent to sing just like someone may not have the ability or intention to have children. If you looked at childlessness as a sign of poor health, many people have been born with disabilities but it has not denied them achieving their life’s goals. In their minds, disability is not inability.

During one of my American fundraising trips, I met a generous childless donor. She told me she was too busy pursuing a career and when she was ready to date it was already late to have children. She says at first it made her very depressed. She later realized her passion and goal in life is to serve children in need. This has brought her a lot of joy and satisfaction.

This Christmas, the birth of Christ could mean the birth of a new passion and goal in your life. Prepare for it by opening your heart to kindness just as you prepare to receive the new-born (Jesus Christ). Olbert Schweitzer says, “The only people happy are those helping others” Therefore, your life’s mission could be different from bearing children. Childlessness should not make you unhappy but eager to find out your life’s purpose. Abraham Lincoln once said, “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years. Merry Christmas