Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat.
Roughly translated, it means “fortune favours the bold”. This Latin phrase has been used historically by people in the military in the Anglosphere, and it still appears frequently on the coats of arms of individual families and clans. It is the motto of a US Marine battalion and has made its mark in popular culture on the back of the titular character in the action film John Wick.
It means that bravery, more often than not, gets rewarded.
On a chilly day in 2012, in the beautiful Swat Valley in Pakistan, a 15-year-old girl was taking the bus home with her friends after her exams. Along the way, two men with guns boarded. They called out her name and threatened to kill everyone if she did not identify herself. Terrified, the other girls on the bus glanced at her, sealing her fate. One of the men shot her.
Even though the bullet hit her head, pierced her neck and ended up in her back, she did not die. Nine months later, on her 16th birthday, Malala Yousafzai stood in the UN headquarters in New York and gave a speech heard around the world.
“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world,” she said.
The reason Malala was targeted was because she fought for the education of women and children in her native Pakistan, where the local Taliban banned girls from attending school.
Her assassination attempt propelled her to international recognition. Canada gave her an honorary citizenship. She became the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala fought for women and children to be educated so they too can contribute to their country. She fought boldly on even after she was shot. She did it for the good of women and children in her country and inspired many others to take action. She has inspired millions and people and young women around the world. She is 22.
My 11-year-old daughter asked me to get her books on Malala for a school report. Now, my daughter tells me that she too believes she can make a difference in her own little way. That moment, I knew Malala had inspired another young woman.
𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐠𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮, 𝐑𝐲𝐚𝐧! 🌟 Ryan is one of the ten students who won the LKY Model Student Award this year.This…
Ryan Tan is a unique young man. He has been cooking since he was in primary school and he realised that he wanted to pursue the culinary arts instead of taking the O levels. Against his parents’ wishes, he left secondary school to take up a Nitec in Western Culinary Arts at ITE College West.
I have to admit it won’t be easy for many parents to support their child to be a chef. It is a difficult life in a difficult industry, especially now with the F&B sector taking a huge tumble thanks to the economic fallout of the coronavirus. Even celebrity chef Jamie Oliver had to close 22 restaurants in the UK and this was before Covid-19 hit.
But Ryan pushed on. He worked as a kitchen helper to support himself in between school sessions. Ryan also found time to give back to the community by preparing food for fundraising events and cooking for the elderly.
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He managed to secure an internship at the Michelin-starred Les Amis and his stellar performance there earned him the Les Amis scholarship. The icing on the cake for Ryan came when he received the Lee Kuan Yew Model Student Award 2020. Today, his parents, who were once upset with his decision to go against their wishes, are truly proud of him .
Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat indeed.
In Sabah, Malaysia, in a remote kampung called Kampung Sabanalang Pitas Sabah, an 18-year-old Universiti Malaysia Sabah student, Veveonah Mosibin, climbed a tree.
She wasn’t doing it for fun, or for food. She was doing it for Internet reception.
As a result of Covid-19 and the movement control order in Malaysia, internet access was not readily available. But instead of whining and throwing a tantrum, Veveonah looked for a tall tree and climbed it just to get better Internet reception. She knew that these were tough times and did not want to bother her parents. Veveonah orang baik!
With three packets of leaf-wrapped rice (a traditional Sabahan dish called linopod), a bottle of water, some study tools and a mosquito net, the youngest of five siblings set out to carry out her challenge.
With Internet reception, she uploaded a video of her making a bamboo hut for herself that she wanted to use for her studies. The video went viral and inspired many students. Soon media outlets came knocking and she was offered a scholarship by her university.
These three stories of young people from around the world who have beaten difficult circumstances have made me realise that it isn’t the scale of the problem overcome that defines a person’s character. The definition of a person’s character is in how they face it. Head on. Bravely. Diligently. And with grace.
Malala overcame excruciating pain and misery to persevere in her dream to empower women and children to be educated. Ryan worked hard without complaint to achieve his goals. Veveonah endured her circumstances with a childlike innocent resilience.
But these three showed more than just traits of strength, they all showed a gentleness in their circumstances and a kindness to others. Malala forgave her shooters. Ryan stood firm in his dream without rebelling against his family and found time to volunteer to help others. Veveonah used her newfound Internet fame to raise awareness of the poor amenities like bad Internet connections, dismal road conditions and poor water and electricity supply in parts of Sabah.
“I have a dream.”
These four famous words by American minister and activist Martin Luther King Jr. have inspired many to this day. He showed that one can pursue their dreams by battling challenges without violence, but with compassion, love and kindness.
In the midst of this national and global crisis, we do need to be bold. We have to adapt and persevere. But while we need to be brave and bold to reach our goals, we should also keep kindness at the forefront of our minds in everything that we do.
Strive to improve yourself. But remember to give a helping hand to those who have fallen behind. Be firm in your actions. But be soft in your heart.
Kindness comes in many forms and if we, in our little way, can make a small difference, we can be stronger and greater together.
Fortune not only favours the bold but also the kind.