Friday, February 25, 2011


Pam Cope and I greet George Achibra at DFW Airport.
By Susan

Today, I had the privilege of greeting my comrade George Achibra at the airport for his first visit to America.

George is Ghanaian, and has dedicated his life to rescuing children sold into slavery in his own backyard-- the vast and open waters of Lake Volta in West Africa. These children are slaves to fishing masters who work on the the largest man-made lake in the world. Children sold by their own parents out of the dire circumstances of poverty and ignorance. Children that I have come to love, children that we fight for every day at Touch A Life Foundation, where I have the blessing and honor to speak for every day.

Raul on the day of his rescue in 2008.
I will tell you only a little bit about George because I do not have the words inside me to describe him. We sat together this afternoon and discussed his work. While I am here, in Texas, building marketing plans and developing strategies for website development to further the cause for child trafficking, he is there--on a boat in the middle of the night--listening to the cries of children in the darkness, children who are still enslaved, children who do not know the meaning of freedom, children who do not know that they are loved, and that as they cry, we fight for them. He is there, watching Raul, one of the boys rescued from the lake, grow into a young boy with a beautiful voice. He is there, educating children and communities about the evils of slavery. George has made mistakes that he acknowledges. And he has also had great successes in his work as a champion for the trafficked child.

Raul and me in 2010 in Kete Krachi, Ghana.
Today in our conversations he explained to me a new concept he was learning in his Master's program at university in Ghana where he is taking classes. It is a concept called feedback. He described in great detail how you can tell someone the good and the bad of things, the right and wrong of what they are doing, with the intention of making them wiser. Stronger. Better. There is no word for it in Twe, the language of his people. In Ghana, to critique is only seen as a vehicle to tear someone down: to hurt, to show your own power, or to belittle. But the concept of feedback, this amazing way of telling someone something to improve their situation, and to help them, is a new idea to George. He was thrilled with it, this ability to give someone something like this as a gift. The light is his eyes was bright at the idea of it. Feedback.

Today, I challenge you to look at feedback in this same light. As though it is a blessing to you, in your writing and in your life. How can your peers make you better? How can their words shape your choices going forward?

Like George, I am seeing feedback as something new. I was blessed by a writing colleague this week who gave me some very positive feedback on my manuscript. Yet in other aspects of my life recently, I also experienced the frustration of negative feedback, and my ego was checked, my spirit was quieted. I am learning from both of these conversations. And I am choosing humility in both situations.

The choice is ours, you know. To either bask in the positive or to take the negative like a grown up and change what we have been doing, to make ourselves better.

I'm choosing, like George, to make myself better. To learn from mistakes and to take the path of new beginnings. To become a better writer, a stronger voice, and to be a positive influence going forward. Understanding the concept of feedback requires courage, and active decisions. George is one of those guys who gets it--even before he knew the word for it.

As a writer, my heart is open. And as a person? I am taking it all in. Accepting the feedback and working to make myself better.

Are you?

1 comment:

  1. Raul's smile says it all. Talk about resilience! Kudos to the Touch a Life Foundation, to George, to Pam, to you and everyone else involved.

    For those of you who have not heard of TAL, read JANTSEN'S GIFT. I challenge anyone not to be changed by it.


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