By Victor Gotevbe & Ikenna Asomba
The President, Children of the Earth, Dr. Nina Meyerhof, has affirmed that she invested so much in young people because they needed to be aware not to imitate what came before them, but rather to step into their own lives and feel, who am I, and self-determine what is a productive life.
Meyerhof, made this remark shortly after being honoured with the 2019 Jacobs-Abbey Global Institute For Leadership Studies (JAGILS) Lifetime Achievement Award, last Saturday, at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Centre, Alexandria, Virginia, the United States.
This is even as the maiden edition of the Dr. Nina Meyerhof Leadership Award was launched at the event highly attended by heads of governments, academics, diplomats, human rights, peace and social justice activists, as part of JAGILS Annual Dinner Award Gala.
In her speech shortly after being conferred with the JAGILS Lifetime Achievement Award, Dr. Meyerhof, who reminisced with nostalgia her sojourn with young people from across the world, said, “I am forever grateful for my life. I am forever grateful to have had the courage to follow my passion and dreams. I learned that to follow one’s heart meant to be open to what lies in front of one’s self and to follow one step at a time and to go wherever this leads…. I am forever grateful to receive this Award. The Jacobs-Abbey Global Institute for Leadership Studies (JAGILS) Lifetime Achievement Award. Such a distinction, I am humbled.”
Commending the Chief Executive Officer, JAGILS, Dr. Samuel Jacobs-Abbey, for such a noble idea to institute the Annual Dr. Nina Meyerhof Leadership Award, she said, “I am forever grateful to Sammy, my son, as he is forever loyal and generous and wishes to give back. He remembers his roots. He remembers his opportunities. So, this award is also about Samuel Jacobs Abbey, as how many people would remember to appreciate their past as building their future. Thank-you Sammy.”
Recalling her story, the President, Children of the Earth, said, “For me it took years to have the courage to step out of the box. I was always completing what was expected until I finally reached my doctorate and then asked myself, what now?…. and NOW was all there was. In the NOW, I am FREE. You are Free. We are all free.
“I wanted young people to know that they need not imitate what came before them, but rather to step into their own lives and feel, who am I, and self-determine what is a productive life. For a life to have meaning one must have the sense that one is contributing to the greater whole. Native Americans ask that whatever we do that we consider the impact of our actions seven generations forward.
“The question asked is why does a life become meaningful when one feels the light of purpose? We start to experience “ I am you and you are me”. No longer is there a need for anger nor competition or greed but only increase of the knowingness that we are One.
“So, as I asked myself about my own purpose, “Who am I? Thus, I started asking young people the same question. Young people, as leaders of the future, needed to know that they no longer needed to imitate what came before them but rather to choose their own life path of purpose. They are the builders of the coming culture and the forging new system’s thinking. If we want change, then they must feel the impulse and trust themselves to be the builders of these new models for the emerging global understanding of synthesis and unity. Brilliance and innovation come from young people stepping into their future.
“A leader is a person who knows his or her passion, feels this inside the Heart and uses the Wisdom of the mind to translate this into action. We are each a leader, if we trust ourselves.
“For me, before I trusted myself, I felt like one half of me was filling obligations and seeking success, while the other half of me was dreaming of a better world. My parents had suffered deeply. The world was suffering. I always cared when I felt another’s pain. I was their advocate. I always felt I was born into so much… not money and material wealth, but love and goodness and smarts and more.
“I saw those that had less and deeply felt their personally demeaning comparisons and sense of personal lack. I knew this feeling of not enough was not truly based on exteriors, but more important of how one felt internally. One does not need to prove the self from the external actions and acquisitions, but rather to focus on how one feels the self internally, the true authentic self — thus self-esteem is not meant to be a constant measure of comparisons to others but rather an internal knowingness that one is enough. We are all individuals. Each of us is unique. We have soul. We are who we are and when we feel and accept this, then goodness arises and deep good concern for the other grows.”
How I Saw Children And Youths
Continuing, Meyerhof disclosed that “I saw children and youth as the mirrors of all that could be. If the next generation could believe in themselves and give generously, then, we could begin to feel the interconnectedness and interdependence of all of life. I wished for these youth to learn to tap into their own conscious awareness of who it is they are. I wanted to further foster creating a better world. I believe that to do this, we must mix and match young people from all cross sections of the world in order to learn their samenesses and dreams while, at the same time, honoring their differences. It is not about learning tolerance and compromise but rather true acceptance.
“I worked to take selected young people crisscrossing all around the world from Nepal to Kazakhstan to Thailand to India to Canada to Japan to the US and more. I believed in staging activities for them to learn and to know their personal importance. Imagine coming from Ghana and learning about Buddhism while living with your friends from Nepal or Pakistan. One world for all. We are a human family of humankind.
“I remember Sammy. I remember something in his eyes that told me he was hungry for greater things than his present situation. I am sure, at first, it was to be rich and successful and follow the American dream… a make-believe concept. But with time, Sammy realized and reached inside and realized that it is important to be a young man who could make a difference. He started to become informed. He started to care not only for his future but the future of others. For me, this is a great success. The great ripple effect. And now he cares about the injustices in the world. He does his part, as I did my part, and the cycle of caring continues.
“I gave all I could give and yet I still cannot stop as what is the meaning of a life, if not an opportunity to apply one’s self to life? Now is a time of systemic change. The world is in near chaos and the dark abyss seems so close. Climate crisis and human crisis demand caring beyond the individual self. In fact, it is so clear that an individual must take a position. The time has come to go beyond apathy. It is an excellent time to sincerely dedicate one’s life for the good of all.
“It is also a time when consciousness, as a term, has become a reality. We have our individual consciousness as well as the collective consciousness. Each generation evolves within this framing. This next generation will have more access to the higher understanding of how our world works. They will guide us into survival or to doom. So it is up to each of you to foster their evolutionary development.
“I am so grateful that I heard my soul’s calling. I am so grateful that I know we are all brothers and sisters. I once took 250 young children from war torn situations to the UN to present on Human Rights. The young man addressing this assembly at the UN said we all have different color hair, different color eyes, different color skin but we all have red blood and a warm heart. Then he asked….”Why do you teach us to hate?”
“So now I carry the torch forward. I visited Auschwitz about 5 years ago. This in many ways was my familial point of origin as I had lost 20 relatives to the Holocaust. I had always ignored my past and spent my life focused on creating a brighter future. Now, I returned to the point of where my heritage started and realized that this trauma was the impetus that pushed me into pursuing peace for all. This focus became my new raison d’etre. And thus this is my legacy piece.
“For the past 5 years, I have visited the place of the murder of more than one million Jews plus many Polish and Roman peoples and began to imagine and plan to take humanity forward from NEVER AGAIN to building a City of Hope… a One Humanity Institute. Personally, I am dedicated to make visible the realities of this possibility with the many colleagues who hold similar visions. It is to be the place where I can land all the dreams and ideas I held close to my heart for my lifetime. Thank you, Domen Kocevar for spearheading this dream with me.”
“It is a most critical time to make real and concrete and visible for the world to realize peace and sustainability are possible! Peace is not the absence of war but rather an established equity for all. So, we ask, If not us, then who will do this? There we are imagining a home for best practices and solutions to all our self-created ills. A place where each individual can experience and realize their own relevance to creating a future that cares for all. Imagine leaving the darkest moments in western history shattered by humanity’s inhumane behavior to leading to an adjacent campus where one can seek answers to the potentials for a better world.
“There each person will have the opportunity to learn how to make a difference. This initiative, for me, is a culmination of all my life’s work…it is to be the home for the people’s of the world, a place that spurred the concept of the UN and the Declaration of Human Rights, and now to become a place for evolving peace and sustainability for all.
“One Humanity Institute is to be your home of ideas, co-working spaces, transformative learning, an experience of the good of all humanity and personal reflection and action for peace to increase and spread beyond. YES, We are all One,” she noted.
In his message, themed, “Champions of Change,” the Executive Director, JAGILS, Dr. Samuel Jacobs-Abbey, stated that “We are all either Champions of change or victims of circumstances. It is a simple matter of personal and collective choice. If we are to change the world and make it a better place for our children and our children’s children, we must begin that process within changing ourselves and our thinking. Our best thinking is what has created our reality and, as Albert Einstein so wisely said, no problem can be resolved by the same consciousness that created it. Once we transform our own thinking, only then can we expand it to include and involve others.
“As a Human Rights, Peace and Social Justice activists, I have experienced, first-hand and up-close, the tragedies, horrors and atrocities of human conflict and I have dedicated my life since that time, some 20 years ago, now, to creating a world that in which love and peace replace hate and fear.
“There is still much work to do and I welcome each of you to the mission for which we were all born. But eradication of war and conflict is not the entire solution. Even in peace, there are high degrees of human suffering, injustice and cruelty inflicted upon the poor, the imprisoned, the hungry, the sick, the homeless, the needy and the helpless. Until we accept and embrace all these human beings as our brothers and sisters, the necessary transformation will not occur. That, my friends, is a choice each of us must make in our minds and our hearts. That is the starting point.”
Ms. Juliana Ama Kplorfia, Founder of Girls Excellence Movement (GEM), a trustee of JAGILS and Officer-In-Charge of Presidential Households at the Presidency of the Republic of Ghana gave an inspiring speech drawn from the experience of young girls in need of sanitary pads whilst soliciting for support for JAGILS.
A number of individuals who have continued to impact humanity positively were recognized and honored with the Dr. Nina Meyerhof Leadership award, namely: Prof. Dr. Nabhit Kapur, Founder and president of Peaceful Mind Foundation; Jenkins Macedo, Founder/Executive Director of INDESEEM Inc.; Mrs Grace Faraja Nkundabantu, CEO and founder of African Girls Hope Foundation (AGHF); Mr. Joseph Jay Yarsiah, Country Manager for Save the Children, Liberia Country Office; and Ms. Edith Kachale-Banda, Director of Joyce Banda Foundation International, Malawi.
The event also had a special moment where three (3) persons received the JAGILS’ citation of honor: Hon. Kojo Yankah, Former Minister of State and Member of Parliament from Ghana; Richard & Vivian Crabbe, World Renowned Marriage Counselors, Dynamic Relationship Incorporated; and Apostle Dr. Daniel Ahia-Armah, General Overseer and Founder of Kingslight Chapel International.
Other recipients were the Vice President Republic of Liberia, His Excellency, Chief Dr. Jewel H. Taylor, and Executive Director, Edd Branson Foundation, Ambassador Dr. Prophet Edd Branson. They were both presented with the JAGILS’ Humanitarian Awards.
Meanwhile, in her closing remarks, the Chief Operating Officer, JAGILS, Naa Kordee Jacobs-Abbey, who appreciated all and sundry for the support given towards the success of the event, disclosed that “When Samuel and I talked about Jacobs-Abbey Global Institute for Global Leadership Studies, we felt it was a divinely instruction to put up this institute as a way of empowering people. Today, see what the Lord has done. As you may know already, the Jacobs-Abbey Global Institute for Leadership Studies is a research, teaching, training and leadership institute that critically provides strategic transformational thinking as a philosophy designed to help anyone who applies it to improve their current and future reality with the premise that, if we want to change the world, we must first change our thinking.
“I want to let you know that your presence, support and financial push will be your testimony, wherever you go and whatever we’re doing. The fact that we are there on behalf of our love for humanity never ceases to humble me, and also provide an extraordinary sense of responsibility.
“So, I am grateful to be part of this event. We all want to be good stewards of our capacity to pass on to those who come after the opportunity to use these rooms and to be part of the history that they represent. So, for all of that we are each deeply grateful to you, the Champion of Change. And on a personal note, I want to thank one more person for coming, my spiritual Father and Mother Apostle Dr and Rev. Mrs. Daniel Ahia-Armah.”