July 2015 issue: The Power of Small

Yes, the smallest, most unsuspecting of gestures have the power to transform lives. And yet, most of us would rather do nothing than do something small.

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The Ripple Effect

Hilde Back’s small act of kindness created an impact so huge that she couldn’t have imagined in her most vivid dreams. Years ago, when she was a school teacher in Sweden, Hilde sponsored the education of Chris Mburu, a poor Kenyan boy. It cost her about $15 per month at the time. Chris, who was a bright student, made his way through high school and college and finally graduated from Harvard Law School to become a human rights advocate for the United Nations.

But all the while, Chris never forgot the anonymous donor who had sponsored his high school education and ensured that he continue to study. So, in 2001, he managed to trace Hilde down and started a charity that he named the Hilde Back Education Fund [HBEF], a Kenyan charitable organisation that provides financial support to bright children from poor families to enable them to get education at the secondary school level. Since its launch, HBEF has provided scholarships to 571 deserving students in Kenya—and the good work continues. Imagine, the lives of 571 children [and their respective families] have already been positively touched—all because one woman decided to be kind.

Hilde Back and Chris Mburu’s story inspired Jennifer Arnold to produce her multi award-winning documentary, A Small Act, which was aired by HBO. Bill Gates, George Soros, and members of the Bertha Foundation saw the movie at the Sundance Film Festival and the Bertha Foundation pledged to support HBEF.

Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip, said, “Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” Hilde Back’s story is a testament to the ripple effect of a single, small act.

Yes, the smallest, most unsuspecting of gestures have the power to transform lives. And yet, most of us would rather do nothing than do something small. We tend to equate small with impotent. Haven’t we often thought, “What difference can I alone make?” or “How can such a small deed have any significant effect?”

Your doubts are about to be put to rest. This month, Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval share 10 stories from different spheres of life that prove beyond a shadow of doubt the incredible potency of small. “It is our smallest behaviours, and not our grandest gestures, that so often define us and create an imprint of who we are,” they write, urging you to embrace the power of small in your life.

So turn over to page 18, and know that even a small act of reading an empowering cover story can lead you to make massive positive changes to your life. But only if you are open to the idea.

Buy the July 2015 issue of Complete WellbeingComplete Wellbeing July 2015 cover

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