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MORE STORIES...

Going under cover in Monaco

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If I can help somebody as I pass along

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The Water's Edge: A fishy tale

Why I choose to be involved
"...I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up."
--Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Like Thoreau, I love the simple life. But while he  left a bustling city to move to the woods, I have taken the opposite route. I have given up life in a tiny town on the edge of the Canadian boreal forest for work that takes me to luxury-loving Monaco, the most densely populated nation in the world. Thoreau spent two years, two months and two days at Walden. I'm giving myself at least three years for this experiment.
--Celia Sankar


If I can help somebody as I pass along

My parents, the descendants of African slaves and Indian indentured workers, bore the burden of their families' history of poverty and never received a proper education. Consequently, my childhood was marked by the inevitable hardships of their meagre means as they did their best to perform what I think of today as the miracle of raising their four children.

Sometimes there was little or no food in the house. One day, when I was about six years old, my elder siblings, who were no older than 11, called me to our bare dining table. My sister and brothers said the Bible said if you prayed for something you would receive it. So the four of us clasped our hands and closed our eyes and prayed very hard for several minutes for food to appear. When I opened my eyes, I was shocked to see, not the platters overflowing with baked chicken, grapes and apples and other delights I'd expected, but the same bare table. As it is with children, we were able to laugh about it, so the disappointment, though deep, was not painful. But the memory stayed with me.

As did the memories of other times when my parents were more successful at breadwinning. Although we had not much for ourselves, they would spend some of their earnings to prepare boxed lunches or make sandwiches to hand out to the homeless in Port of Spain, Trinidad's capital. We lived in a tiny three-room house in a small village, and as I helped fold boxes or watched my mother spread cheese filling on the bread slices, I felt we were somehow rich and important because we were in a position to give to others like that.

Community service, therefore, came naturally to me. I grew up feeling that no matter what my own circumstances, I could do something for others less fortunate. I did community service happily and unquestioningly. It was a duty. It was part of my life. However, it was not—how can I convey this effectively?—part of my soul.

That conviction didn't enter until my late twenties when, having struck out on my own, I faced a battalion of disappointments that brought me to my knees. It was a period when I felt completely lost, completely gutted. Clinically speaking, I guess you could say I experienced a major depression. But I never labelled it as such. As I worked through it, I took that painful period as a time in my life to reassess my entire existence and to construct the person I wanted to be from thenceforth.

Two overarching principles now guide my life. One is a commitment to myself to give myself the best experience of this fleeting opportunity to live. That involves knowing what I consider truly important, what makes me happy, and arranging my life so I can spend my days doing precisely those things.

The other is a commitment to those less fortunate, to do my utmost to help others have the opportunity to enjoy a happy and fulfilling experience of this life. When I took a long, considered look at what it meant to be alive, I concluded the time and talents with which I had been blessed could not be solely for my own pleasure. I came to fully appreciate the meaning of a song I'd learned in childhood, which said: “If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living shall not be in vain.”

It's not an easy task to live up to either of these commitments. I am pleased whenever I see myself making even an inch of progress.

Actually, I've felt I've taken a giant leap this year by coming to Monaco and working to build Monaco Revue as a media business which will assist orphans of AIDS to receive an education. I am in a place I love, doing work I love, and for a purpose I believe in.

It's a leap of faith, yes. I've come into an environment where I know practically no one, and this project itself is a huge undertaking, requiring me to bring together like-minded individuals from around the globe who similarly feel the genuine desire to give of themselves to make this a more equitable world. I am gratified to see that team coming together. And I continue to dedicate myself fully to this venture, trusting my prayers for its success will be answered.

For life's experiences have taught me that the naively-uttered requests of the four babies around an empty dining table were heard. Things may not have happened in the way and time we expected, but with all four of us having grown up happy, healthy, and strong under my parents' humble roof, I can say, yes, our prayers were answered.

 


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Comments to date: 1. Page 1 of 1.

Fiona,  Trinidad West Indies

Posted at 8:50pm on Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Hi Celia,
Your story is very fascinating and deep. I never would have thought that you have passed through such difficulties in life. It is understood that when people have faced up to terrible times in childhood they usually become antisocial and care nothing for others. You are truly one in a mi... read more »

 




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Celia Sankar

SIMPLY MONACO
by Celia Sankar





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