By Alagi Yorro Jallow
Fatoumatta: In 1892 at Stanford University, an 18-year-old student was struggling to pay his fees. He was an orphan, and he came up with a bright idea, not knowing where to turn for money. He and a friend decided to host a musical concert on campus to raise money for their education.
They reached out to the great pianist Ignacy J. Paderewski. His manager demanded a guaranteed fee of $2000 for the piano recital. A deal was struck, and the boys began to work to make the concert a success.
The big day arrived. However, unfortunately, they had not managed to sell enough tickets. The total collection was only $1600. Disappointed, they went to Paderewski and explained their plight. They gave him the entire $1600, plus a cheque for the balance $400. They promised to honor the cheque at the soonest possible.
“No,” said Paderewski. “This is not acceptable.” He tore up the cheque, returned the $1600, and told the two boys: “Here is the $1600. Please deduct whatever expenses you have incurred. Keep the money you need for your fees. Moreover, give me whatever is left”. The boys were surprised and thanked him profusely.
It was a small act of kindness. However, it marked out Paderewski as a great human being.
Why should he help two people he did not even know? We all come across situations like these in our lives. Moreover, most of us only think, “If I help them, what would happen to me?” The truly great people think, “If I do not help them, what will happen to them?” They do not do it, expecting something in return. They do it because they feel it is the right thing to do.
Paderewski later went on to become the Prime Minister of Poland. He was a great leader, but unfortunately, when the World War began, Poland was ravaged. More than 1.5 million people were starving in his country and no money to feed them. Paderewski did not know where to turn for help. He reached out to the US Food and Relief Administration for help.
He heard there was a man called Herbert Hoover — who later went on to become the US President. Hoover agreed to help and quickly shipped tons of food grains to feed the starving Polish people.
A calamity was averted. Paderewski was relieved. He decided to go across to meet Hoover and personally thank him. When Paderewski began to thank Hoover for his noble gesture, Hoover quickly interjected and said, “You should not be thanking me, Mr. Prime Minister. You may not remember this, but several years ago, you helped two young students go through college. I was one of them.”
The world is a beautiful place. What goes around, comes around. Please help others to the best of your ability. In the long run, you may be helping yourself. God never forgets anyone who sows a good seed in other people, never.
Nothing in nature lives for itself. Rivers do not drink their own water. Trees do not eat their own fruit. Sun does not give heat for itself. Flowers do not spread fragrance for themselves. Living for others is the rule of nature. Moreover, therein lies the secret of living.