Impact Investing Tribute #3: To a Girl who was both 13 AND 78 at the same TIME
My mum worked for a decade at a wonderful institution in Montreal called the Mackay Centre School - a school for deaf and disabled children. Thanks to her encouragement, between the ages of 16 and 23, I spent TIME with many absolutely inspiring young people while acting as a volunteer, a summer camp counsellor and a prep beneficiary with a few different institutions including at Mackay.
Decades later, I still find myself thinking about some of the kids I met and the fascinating TIMES I had. At camp one summer, I remember going to the beach with a young boy named Sujith who used a walker to get around because he had spina bifida. It was impossible for him to slog through the sand with the walker so he tossed it aside, flipped into a handstand and walked on his hands back-and-forth across the entire beach (!) as we enjoyed a relaxed conversation.
I have also often thought of a teenage girl at camp who I tried unsuccessfully to enter into a friendly conversation with a number of TIMES over a 4 day period. I was about to give up as I had come to the conclusion that she wasn’t responding because I must be irritating her. Then another camp counsellor came to the rescue and explained to me that her bliss board only makes sense if you look at her eyes….
The only way she can communicate is by looking up for “yes” and looking down for “no”. Through pointing at symbols on her bliss board and suggesting different topics, I was finally able to engage in a conversation with her about whatever we wanted. One of the first things I suggested to her was that it wasn’t very smart of me to take 4 days to figure this out… Her eyes immediately looked up and we both laughed for quite a while! :)
In addition to Sujit and my teenage friend, my main tribute is to a special soul named “Brenda” who was 13-years-old when I knew her. Due to progeria her body was ageing 6 years for every calendar year - she was physically 78 at the same TIME.
Brenda had an great sense of humour and of mischief, as well as a genuine joie de vivre. She made everyone around her feel special AND taught us all a great deal. She completely embraced the Value of TIME, but the TIME Value of Money could only have become a consideration as well if there had been medical breakthroughs allowing her to live a much longer life or if there was an actual discovery of a cure during her LIFETIME.
The efforts to find breakthroughs and eventual cures for progeria and other diseases demand great amounts of increased funding. Dignified levels of care for individuals suffering from poor health and disease always require more funding. Philanthropic efforts are often heroic and certainly very helpful. Government funded programs in healthcare are extremely important but often underfunded, and the efforts of heroic healthcare workers deserve greater financial support to allow them to deliver the best quality services and care. “What else can be done?” is a perpetual question. Without resorting to magical or wishful thinking, what else can be done includes exploring potential, new innovative solutions through Impact Investing - public and private companies obviously playing a big role in the space too.
Taking on the challenges (who likes a big challenge?) of using the capital markets to provide a handup to philanthropy (civil society), AND government programs for more sustainable solutions to potentially any of the greatest social AND environmental challenges of our TIME is a very important piece of what the future of finance can AND should be about…
Impact Investing is an increasingly emerging part of the Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) spectrum AND is by definition about intentionality - purpose. Using "the Power of AND", the toolkit is there to explore and create new innovative solutions full of purpose in the healthcare space AND in countless other spaces.
Take the spirit of Brenda. Bring to the table the ingenuity of Sujith, AND add the patience of a girl who had no choice but to wait for people to unlock the keys of how to communicate with her... All key ingredients for Impact Investing.
These kids lead me to have no doubt that - with TIME - we can all benefit from recognizing that combining considerations of the TIME Value of Money with a more focused understanding of The Value of TIME will lead to better financial AND life outcomes at the same TIME.
Upcoming Tribute #4 will be about heroes who helped me survive a terrifying health scare during my first trip to Africa in 1986.