“Not every reader is a leader, but every leader must be a reader” -Harry Truman.
I’m writing this letter to encourage more Guyanese to write their memoirs. I’d like to share with you my personal story about how reading a book inspired me to return to the land of my birth, Guyana, to work as a volunteer.
Thirty years ago I migrated to New York. When I left Albouystown, I was a dunce who had dropped out of secondary school. While living in New York, I became a Christian, and God told me to go back to school. I returned to school and was able to finish a bachelor and master’s degrees – not bad for a dunce who dropped out of school.
After finishing my education, I joined the military and served in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. After leaving the military, I read a book which changed my life and led me to return to Guyana as a volunteer. The book is called, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Christian Pastor who tried to protect the Jews from Adolph Hitler. He went to New York in 1939 before war broke out, but hearing about the treatment of his followers he took the last boat from New York to Germany before the war started. He said these words which were etched in my memory: “I cannot remain in the peace and safety in New York while innocent people are being murdered in Germany.” Hitler later executed him in 1945; he was 34 years old.
After I left the military, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to work. After reading about Bonhoeffer and especially those words, God told me to return to Guyana as a volunteer.
Some Guyanese are suffering and need help. Today, this is why I am a volunteer in Guyana. And it all started with reading a book. This is why I’m writing to encourage more people to write their stories; you never know how your story may inspire someone. There is a power in sharing true life stories with one another and it can be transformative for both the writer and the reader.
By reading memoirs, we can learn so much about ourselves and others. It’s a way to enter another person’s world and share their life’s journey. When reading a well-written memoir you feel as if you are going deeply into another life, whether it’s learning how someone grew up, how to deal with loss, how to survive in spite of all the odds, or how to take care of someone in need.
You don’t have to live a sinless or perfect life to write your memoirs. Writing your memoirs isn’t showing off or boasting. You don’t have to be a good writer to write your memoirs; pay a good writer to write for you.
I’ve a list of people that I would like to encourage to write their memoirs: former Bishop George, Ray Rahaman (RentATent), Christopher Ram, GHK Lall, Glen Lall, June Mendes (Farfan & Mendes), Lawrence Williams (late Governor, Bank of Guyana – someone can write it for him), Anand Goolsarran, Pastor Leslie Glenn, Simone Broomes (TIP) Kwame Gilbert (member of parliament).