Every Little Helps

Dedicated to Zainab ABM who has just said to me ‘please write more’. She is a fellow doctor, blogger, new wife, northern Nigerian young woman and generally a good egg. Just like me, only a few years younger. Also dedicated to my brother Abdulkhalid with whom I have just had the conversation about hope and inspiration and being the catalyst for change.


I am in the process of doing an online course on paediatric palliative care and came across a story that inspired me so I saved it and now will share it. It appeals to my firm belief that no matter how insurmountable the difficulties we face seem, all we can do as mere mortals is to pick a point. Any point relevant that forms part of the fabric of change and start working on it. My hope is that if many of us think like the Star thrower in the story below or like I try to think, then there will be many hands on deck, all making light work of the changes we need to heal our ailing world. And if like me, you like to ask why, I will tell you why. Because I want to be part of the change. Because I want to spread a little love and happiness. Because I want to have children and I want them to have something positive to aspire to.


The Starfish Story adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)


Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.”


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