Khadija, A Philanthropist Worth Emulating =====================================
As the President keeps reiterating to his fellow Sierra Leoneans both at home and abroad, neither he nor the government alone cannot develop Sierra Leone.
Accordingly, for the many aspects of the nation’s many macro and micro socioeconomic development needs to be met, the President has demanded that all Sierra Leoneans come onboard to make their own contribution in whatever little way they can, wherever they are devoid of what tribe, region or political party that they belong to.
One such unspoken patriot who long before the President’s call has in her own way been making a contribution towards alleviating the plight of her poor brothers and sisters she left back home is Kadija Nabie (Tejan) who resides in the United States of America.
According to this concerned Sierra Leonean with a charitable heart, “The responsibility of Mama Salone does not solely lie on the shoulder of one man.”
Kadija highlights that as the President the first gentleman, together with his ministers are doing their bit with the support of departments and agencies of government, we too as citizens also have a role to play for the development of this great nation. According to her, “As citizens we are fully responsible to uphold and maintain the prestige of our great country.”
Towards becoming such conscious helpful citizens, Kadija says, “We need to start asking ourselves what we have done to contribute in our own little way for the development of this country, be you resident in Sierra Leone or in the Diaspora.”
Kadija is not the kind of religious person that practices a religion that is devoid of service to one’s fellow human beings. This she amplifies by stating that, “A quote from my religion states that to pick up waste materials from the street is a form of charity.”
Deeply philosophical about what true religion is, she maintains that, “To utter the word love is just a simple part of the equation. To complete the equation, all depends on our actions and steps towards upholding it.”
The Christians too believe in this ideology of God worship, when through his many examples, their Messiah Jesus Christ showed that the truly religious person must love God with all his mind body and soul and be of service to his fellow human beings.
In developing Mama Salone, Kadija calls on us all as one united Sierra Leone to “step up our game in the name of Love to help stop poverty, improve sanitation, infrastructure, education, transportation and natural resources.”
To be able to bring Salone to that level of development, she recommends that, “We need to promote unity, oneness and bring Mama Salone back to it normal state.”
In a country where the PRSP identifies over half of the populace as living on or below the poverty line, Khadija is one Sierra Leonean who was fortunate to have the vision to migrate into the Diaspora in search of greener pastures.
Through educating herself and through dint of hard work, Kadija became a naturalized citizen of the great United States of America that has since its founding in 1776 become the home of people from every county on earth look for freedom and economic opportunities.
An educated, enlightened human being with a well-developed social consciousness, Kadija describes herself as a human rights activist who is inspired from the safety and comfort of her location in the United States to advocate for her fellow Sierra Leoneans struggling to be free from poverty and its many consequences.
Educated, Godly and kind
Kadija’s philanthropic attitude stems from her understanding that unlike her living in materially rich United States of America, where poverty is not a hindrance to the development and advancement of any ambitious and focused citizen, most of her fellow Sierra Leoneans back home struggle under very difficult conditions to meet their daily needs.
A very religious person who believes that charity can help alleviate the suffering of others, she states that her compassion for others inspires her with great passion, perseverance and motivation.
Above all, she is of the conviction that she has been blessed by God Almighty whom she trusts and worships, to bring solace and relief to those that need help more than herself.
In her politics, Kadija can be described as a liberal democrat because she is an admirer of the American president, John F. Kennedy who opened the door to the Black Civil Rights Movement in the USA; as well as set up the CARE food program that fed millions of school going children in Africa in the 1960s and the best part of the last century. JFK also set up the Peace Corp which is still renowned for its educational, health and rural development activities in poor developing countries.
Kadija’s charitable nature and sympathy for the poor is inspired, according to her, by two brilliant statements made by JFK during his inaugural speech in 1961 she came across while in high school in the USA.
The first statement which has to do with patriotism says: "And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country". The second statement which captured young Kadija’s imagination from JFK’s inaugural speech was: "My fellow citizens of a world; ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."
Encapsulated in these two remarkable statements is the notion that no man is an island; that to live is to live for others. Thus, Kadija does not only see herself as an American, a Sierra Leone but most importantly a citizen of the entire world.
In that sense, looking into the mirror of humanity, what Kadija see is not that other poor suffering brother or sister but herself – hence her deep well of charity.
She calls on us as “citizens of this great world to look at the man in the mirror,” and see that “that man in the mirror is no other individual but oneself.”
Many Sierra Leoneans, once they escape the poverty in the country and find themselves in greener pastures hardly ever have the time to turn and look back at where they came from; and if they have the means and the wherewithal, give a helping hand.
According to her, “As citizen of Sierra Leone I have been reaching out to my beloved country and my fellow Sierra Leoneans for over 10 years sending drums of clothing, shoes, paying college tuition, school fees, rental expenses, feeding the less fortunate, you name it.”
Kadija does not take the credit for these kind gestures personally, Instead, cognizant that she has a maker and a provider she states that, “These efforts have all been through the grace of the Almighty God whom all credits and praises are due to.”
She feels proud that like Khadija the wife of Prophet Mohamed (Peace be upon him), God chose to use him as a conduit for his endless everlasting mercy and goodness. Many people talk far more than they do; not Khadija.
To get a better insight into who this exemplary humanitarian and philanthropist is, she reveals that she has also served as a volunteer in the American Red Cross, worked with the mental health population and developmental disability population. Khadija knows what human weakness and suffering is.
Madam Khadija without fanfare help Ebola victims
In reaction to the suffering back home, Khadija says, “My first donation was back in 2003 followed by another in December of 2011.”
She made two others in December 2014 during the pick of the Ebola outbreak when Sierra Leone was shut off from the rest of the world by air and the economy in a very depressed state, with investors fleeing, businesses closed and many people out of work.
As the cry for help became more intense in Mama Salone, especially during that Ebola epidemic, Khadija said she had the opportunity to work with a young lady who shared the same vision and passion to assist with helping Ebola victims back home.
Unfortunately, according to Khadija, due to her hectic schedule, she was unable to go further as planned. This individual however donated about $80 towards hiring the container that was used to ship the items, along with two other individuals.
Some of the beneficiaries
Her short term goal:
Like every concerned Sierra Leonean, what Khadija wants most at present is for the nation and its two other Ebola affected neighbors to finally close the Ebola chapter.
The flare up of two new cases in the country this month has been considered as a reversal, as the WHO was preparing to give Sierra Leone a clean bill of health in early February after completing two cycles of ninety days each without any outbreak. Our effort is to see that Ebola is eradicated/contained and done away with in our beloved land and it sub region.
While it lasted between May 2014 and November 2015, Ebola took the lives of more than 11, 000 victims in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, including the lives of hundreds of medical doctors and nurses.
Thus, one can understand Khadija’s concern to see Ebola put behind us, as while it lasted it did great damage to all the productive sectors of the economy including travel, tourism, trade, commerce, industry, mining and agriculture.
Her long term vision
Beyond the setback caused to the country by the Ebola epidemic, Khadija’s long term vision is to see, like President Koroma, Sierra Leone become a sustainable healthy society. One way is for the country’s leaders, ministers, Members of Parliament and top government officials to show great commitment and sincerity in the performance of their various duties.
For the dream of a sustainable healthy country to come true, Sierra Leoneans have to heed to the President’s call for attitudinal and behavioral change – respect for the rule of law, eschewing violence, having respect for public properties, paying our taxes, etc.
We also have to heed to his advice that when elections are over, we should put our party colors aside and come together as a nation to work in the best interest of the nation.
That is how the great United States of America where Madam Khadija Tejan lives continues to be a sustainably healthy economy and society.