Hello readers, welcome to another moment with Mary-Ann. Happy new year, it’s already the end of January, crazy!
Today I wanted to talk about something that is very important to me, in fact, I think it’s important to everyone in their own way – Togetherness.
I am sure you have heard people say that we humans are social animals that have to exist in communities in order to thrive. It’s easy to think too literally about what that means, you know, thinking about small groups of nomadic cave-people who need to work together to survive as a team. Although that still stands true in many scenarios, it’s not that simple, particularly these days. The truth is, in the absence of ‘needing’ one another to survive, togetherness has become more about seeking a sense of belonging, being unified with those we care about. If you strip away all nuance and complication, you could perhaps say that it is our yearn for togetherness that drives us to go out and find meaningful relationships with other people. Even when our lives give us every reason to become divided in times of trial, such as COVID or war, people continue to fight to be together and stand united. I think this is because, innately, we know that being together is powerful and when the right people come together, amazing things can, and do, happen.
Last year I wrote about an incredible trek I was fortunate enough to be a part of, with a group of amazing people. When I think about it from the perspective of togetherness, I wonder if some of the reason I got involved was to be able to feel like I belonged to something that added tangible value to the world around me. Because, prior to that, I wasn’t sure that I had any proper value to give to anything or anyone, other than my immediate family. Many times I figured it would be easiest if I just settle down and live in my little bubble, be happy with what I have; a husband, a job, a house… I could go on. But I knew that I, like most of us, would still have that desire for something more, something that I could be a part of, together with those around me. What’s more, is that I discovered that it was ok to be just a small part of a big picture, to add my bit of value the best I could, however big or small, and just be present in the togetherness.
I tried to think of a cute analogy to really hammer my point home, but I failed. This isn’t cute, get ready for a medical lesson… Imagine you are a Pineal gland, the smallest gland in the human body. You produce the majority of the melatonin, which plays a vital role in how we sleep, i.e. you are a crucial part of the anatomy. Now, imagine if you said,
“I am so small… I am just a tiny thing that can’t have any impact on this big machine. What’s the point…”
Anyone who has sleepless nights will understand this point very well I think!
OK, you can stop being a Pineal gland now, apologies for that interlude… Now that you are a full human again, you will quickly start to realise that when you join a community, you need them as much as they need you to succeed, both literally and emotionally. Being present and together with people will help us grow, the community can help mentor us, and help better us. Then of course, literally speaking, when we are united with a common goal, we can defeat bigger obstacles, aim for bigger projects and dream those big dreams we all have, no matter who we are.
Rafiki Thabo knows all this and keeps community and togetherness as one of its core values. They know the impact that education can have on a community, and how educating an individual person affects everything they touch. Many of the graduates from Rafiki Thabo have already impacted their communities in incredible ways. These are people whose understanding of their shared struggles brought them together to form a strong community with Rafiki Thabo’s help.
Recently 53 of these amazing graduates and students formed what they have named, the ‘Rafiki Thabo Uganda Students Association’. With the aim to share their experiences, raise money to share with others in need and crucially, to support each other. Through their connections and their community, they have realised how valuable each of them are when they come together to create and build something that I am sure will be beautiful and powerful.
So, all I can say is that, when you are part of something like this, you start to see and feel the power of togetherness, because without you, there would be no community united with a common goal. Without the cumulative power of being together, the students’ education wouldn’t be where it is today, and amazing things like the Rafiki Thabo Uganda Students Association may not have been born. Just remember that if you start to think you have nothing to give, find somewhere to be together with people and you will know that you are valuable and can create change.
…Even if you are just a tiny little Pineal gland.