One of my earliest memories is my dad trying to put me to sleep, telling me stories at bedtime. I remember him nodding off in the process, me waking him up and asking him to finish the story! I have always loved listening to people tell their stories, and the thing I love the most is finding the hidden message within a story – some stories have an obvious lesson: find true love; don’t trust everyone; live life to the max; etc. But, the best stories are slightly more complex and hugely inspirational. In my journey during PULSE I have asked all my NGO colleagues about their journey to get to their current role. It’s been fascinating learning about their journey, and what makes us choose the path in life that we do. I have heard from some about how their paths were obvious to them at an early stage, being inspired by their parents careers. For others, it was a tremendously adventurous journey through multiple careers and organisations, until they found what they liked best. Some moved continents to work across the world, others moved only across the city of London. But, one thing everyone seems to have in common within the NGO sector is the desire to do good in the world. I have been humbled by their stories, inspired, moved to tears. And the power of storytelling has really come to life. So, with that in mind, I have embraced telling stories myself. I want to take this opportunity to tell you a story that I came up with, although it is very much based on a true story.
John was a little boy who dreamt of flying to the moon. Every night he would stare out of his window at the moon and wish he could touch the stars. John lived with his parents who were relatively affluent. But, John was a sickly boy, beset by health problems during his childhood. He had ambitions to study abroad, but it never materialised due to ill-health. Even when he attempted to enter the Army school, he was initially medically disqualified. He did eventually manage to join the Naval Reserve. But, whilst assigned to the Solomon Islands during World War II, he contracted malaria. John could have died, but he was one of the lucky ones. He “survived”.
John went on to be a hero of World War II, within a couple of years of joining. At the end of his naval career, he joined politics. He always had the highest ambitions, so he ran as a Presidential candidate.
John F Kennedy became the 35th President in 1961 and soon after announced that “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth”. In 1969, man first stepped foot on the Moon – the most iconic, historic achievement for man to date!
If JFK had succumbed to malaria, would we have been brave enough to try for this ambitious goal and dedicated the resources, determination and passion needed to achieve something that has not been repeated since 1972? Would it still be a dream for humanity and not a reality?
Let’s all wake up to a world where malaria is no more, and give people a brighter future.