I wrote here a while back that I would do a post on the amazing people who inspire me, so in the spirit of sharing, here goes! So I decided to do a series of posts because putting them all in one post would result in one very long post that well, the length might chase y’all away. I am going to be drawing from my personal experience/ encounters with them and the virtues deposited in me. Note: This is not a biography. Why am I doing this? Other than to share these awesome people with you (don’t say I never gave you anything), I also want to celebrate the people who have (and are still) inspiring me to be and do better and also to remind myself that I too can aspire to ‘greatness’. So without further ado, let us begin…
I was fresh out of service and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. Everybody who knew me knew I had always nursed this idea about a career in the media industry. The thoughts kept changing. It was mass comm then broadcasting then journalism then I wanted to have my own magazine, have my own talk show, then I found photography but it had all always revolved around media.
Then in my confused state, I was thinking: maybe I shouldn’t just throw the law degree away because let’s face it, I had spent an awful long time trying to bag that degree. Maybe I should check out media law. There aren’t a lot of law firms that do media law around here so imagine my joy when I found one, a few blocks from my house in Kaduna and to top it all, they ran a weekly radio programme, House of Justice, where they discuss societal issues and using the law as an instrument for social change. And that was just music to my ears. It was a fully functioning law firm with media law and they had a research department focusing on tackling the issue of medical negligence by health providers. I remember thinking: wow, the owner of this place must be some visionary, looking into areas of law that were, well not so popular. So I sent a mail indicating my interest to work at the firm, but they weren’t hiring at the moment but were taking interns. I decided to go for it because I wasn’t doing anything else and it would definitely be better than sitting at home eating my weight in food.
So I resumed at House of Justice, with one agenda; work in the media department of the firm. Then I met Ms Gloria Ballason. You know how you meet certain people and you are just in awe that you become tongue-tied? Or maybe it was just my shaky self-confidence that resulted in the tongue-tied syndrome but I was definitely in awe. One of the things that struck me about her was how she carried herself with so much confidence and grace.
My first week there, I remember her calling me into her office and asking why I was giving up on law. Then she said, I will not let you throw it away without even doing anything with it first. That made me think deeply. Of course, I couldn’t tell her that my decision not to practice was not something I had just recently decided, it had been a long time coming. But the seriousness with which she uttered those words made it ring to my core because there were things I had given up on without even trying first, and I would come to learn, in my stay there, that she takes her work seriously; she doesn’t do anything half-hearted. And not just her work, she takes her life seriously. She knows who she is, she’s confident in this knowledge and it is with this confidence she takes on the world. A woman who knows her worth and won’t shrink to accommodate anybody’s ego and her level of humility? I don’t know how she balances the two (you know how people are quick to mistake a healthy self-confidence for pride?).
In my three months working with her, I picked up so many values that sometimes, before I do anything, I make sure that Ms Ballason would approve. Her drive, tenacity and passion for God and humanity are astounding. This passion was what led to her establishing the Molluma Medical Law centre in honour of a friend who had died as a result of medical negligence. You can see this passion in her quest for excellence in ALL that she does, it colours every project she takes on and every word she writes.
She’s highly disciplined and principled and requires that you be disciplined as well. She’s like a school teacher constantly on your case, making sure that you are not slacking off. This might be interpreted as being stern, but I came to realise that it stemmed from a good place. She demands that you give your best or nothing at all. That’s the kind of person she is, she genuinely seeks to make you a better version of yourself.
One thing that astonishes me about her, is how unafraid she is to stand up for what she believes in. She will not sugar coat it, she will speak against anything that even has a slight stink of injustice on it and will do so without flinching and without apologies. I mean, not a lot of people can take the governor of a state to court and win! How about that?
It’s not about being fearless, it’s about acting in spite of fear.
Above all, it’s her strength that inspires me the most. That quiet strength in the face of stressful and painful situations. Also, Her confidence. She’s one of those women who will walk into a room and you cannot but look at them. And it is not because of anything she wears, it is the grace that accompanies each step, the sheer intelligence dripping from each word she utters. That’s the kind of person I want to be. I want excellence and integrity to be hallmarks of my life and work. I want to leave people better than I met them, I want to walk in purpose because when you see a person who walks in purpose, you don’t need a soothsayer to tell you. It is evident.
It was indeed an honour to have met this woman. It is an experience I am forever grateful for. Check her out on Facebook to follow the amazing work that she’s doing.
Read the previous post here.