It is an unavoidable truth that money and commerce make the world go round. Well, so does giving, with knobs on.
Giving does more than simply warm our hearts, but also has a positive impact on the person giving, the person receiving, the community and even the world. Whether donating money or time, giving back has been shown to make a positive impact that goes far beyond the initial act of giving.
While both the giver and receiver are impacted, studies have shown that giving is a much more important element of happiness than receiving. Being able to give makes us feel like we’re making a big impact on someone’s life, encouraging us to do better and uncover a different perspective of happiness.
Little wonder then that our subject for this issue epitomizes happiness.
A leading philanthropist and social entrepreneur, Dr Helen Oritseafor has devoted most of her life to reaching out to the needy, hopeless, homeless, and poor in the society; thereby touching lives the world over.
In this exclusive interview with African Leadership Magazine UK, Dr. Helen Oritsejafor, Founder, Hand to The Needy Foundation, one of the foremost African philanthropists and social entrepreneur, tells us about her selfless impacts through support for child education, women empowerment, and poverty alleviation. Excerpts;
We have followed your work in the area of Philanthropy, which is quite commendable. What has been your philosophy?
Truly, my philosophy is that life is about the ability and willingness to help raise other people. I find my joy and thick in helping others grow, helping others succeed, and discovering potential so that they can become successful themselves. It is like a rich person amongst the poor, you know you are also poor yourself.
So I love giving back and God has been so faithful to me. And I also watched my father while growing up as well. Incidentally, he was also a dynamic man. He loved people. I got inspired by seeing him reach out to a lot of people. He sent many people to school. It was unbelievable. I must have learned something even though it is also a part of me as well to put a smile on someone’s face, making them happy, bring joy and being impactful, and allowing them to become successful is a thing of joy for me.
We thought you started with Eagle Flight Microfinance Bank, so it actually runs in the family?
Oh, it runs in the family. It has been something I have been doing even before I started Eagle Flight. It has been a part of my life all along. I discovered that what gives me joy is to see someone becoming something. What I understand in life is that someone has to give you a push. No one succeeds alone. You need someone. You need encouragement. I think if we can have this understanding, knowing fully well that we are interdependent, it will go a long way in shaping the destiny even of our nation, Nigeria. For me, I want to be part of other people’s success stories. That’s joy. That’s what makes me happy.
Looking at your growing national and global appeal, are there plans to scale your philanthropy and adopt a global approach?
Yes, definitely. For example, during the advent of COVID-19, I was in the UK at some point and it was at the time I released my newest book “You Too Can Become a Success”; and when I was done writing the book, it dawned on me that several organizations have closed down. It dawned on me that I needed to do something here in the UK because then I was going to launch a new book, and a TV station was so glad to have me on. During that time, I was prepared to help a lot of entrepreneurs who might have been affected due to COVID to see how they can benefit from the book. The income from the launching of the book, over 50% of it went into the venture. We called for submissions of proposals and several people submitted and at the end of the day we reached out and we gave out N500, 000 ($1,000) each to some people and so on, and even more. We had some people from Nigeria but also from outside the country who bought into the idea and became beneficiaries.
Also, this was part of the discussion we had with a congresswoman in the US with a need for us to have some kind of a partnership wherein we can see how we can help other women in the United States financially, and possibly organize training and supervise their growth. We don’t just want to give money, we also want to see that they can grow through the ladder, and raise others. We could have done this last year, but we couldn’t due to COVID. Hopefully, we might be able to do that this year.
Click HERE TO ACCESS THE FULL INTERVIEW on pages 8 – 13 of the March 2022 edition of the African Leadership Magazine.