“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others” – Marianne Williamson
Earlier this year I did a free online ’31 Day Reset Your Life’ programme. It was one of those insightful and fun activities that helped me reflect on my values and adopt a greater focus as I continue my own personal and professional development. One of the exercises was to write my eulogy (morbid but liberating) and I will share a small excerpt. Written in third person it says,
“She is well known for her stance on Caribbean regional integration, her work with youth and women’s development in many areas, and the investment fund established […] that has seen the creation of truly sustainable, innovative and entrepreneurial ventures by young people in the Caribbean and Africa.”
Coming out of the experience, I started to shape an overall life plan, with timelines, which I hope I will have the privilege of completing – God willing!
Two of my biggest life goals are interlinked:
1) to be a founder of a holistic Caribbean leadership academy for young men and women that offers personal and professional guidance and training. It will adopt novel methodologies for learning and link young Caribbean men and women to others across the world; and
2) To be a philanthropist in a sense and have an investment fund that invests in social enterprises and entrepreneurial ventures in the Caribbean and Africa.
Even though these aspirations are personal, they are tied to my own belief that my region of small states has so much to offer. What we lack in physical resources we make up for with our people. Put another way, our smallness means that it is the responsibility of each individual - especially women – to all be innovators, pioneers and entrepreneurs for the development of our countries. In essence, our people are our greatest resource and we must encourage them to reach their full potential. This can only be done through education and by providing the right opportunities. My interest in Africa originates from a historical understanding of our Caribbean identity and the need to strengthen these linkages.
In a previous post I spoke about my own fear of speaking out and the fact that I wanted to encourage others to do so as well. What I have found in my current project is the shyness of women, who would prefer to stay out of the limelight. This needs to change!
Additionally, my region is often brushed aside in international forums; most saying that we only have a few thousand in comparison to the millions of inhabitants of other countries and we are ‘middle income countries’ so we are not in great need. Yet we are so dependent on the external world that one decision can have a major impact on our island states. Given that the Caribbean has a large number of female- headed households imagine the impact of the global recession and decreased revenue from major industries like agriculture, tourism and financial services. Our active involvement is crucial in preventing the reversal of our development so far. We often speak about the marginalised and I fear that in a sense that we are the marginalised of the international arena.
My interest in being a ‘Voices of the Future’ Correspondent coincides with the next chapter of my life. As a young Caribbean woman it offers a platform to advocate for the relevance of my region and its people and to lend my voice to the discussion on women’s empowerment, through the restructuring of the educational system and by providing opportunities to realise our social and economic goals.
It is essentially about encouraging the world to take interest and engage with us in a more meaningful, mutually beneficial way. This is all with the objective of inspiring Caribbean individuals to see that we do not need to fear the outside world and that even I – a small Caribbean woman – can create change and empower myself to achieve my own personal and professional goals.