Mame Aly Laye had an anchoring presence and glow that pulled me in.
I typically acknowledge the clients stopping by whichever branch I’m working at with a head nod, a soft smile, and a swift return of my gaze back down to whichever activity I’m absorbed in. It’s my imperfect way of acknowledging that we both have busy days we must carry on with.
There was something different about Mame. The moment I spotted him walking through our office entrance, I couldn’t help but shoot a wider-than-usual smile and stares of interest. To my luck, the enthusiasm was welcome and reciprocated.
Mame took out his first loan three years ago, at which point his business was floundering. He used the funds from his first loan to purchase grain to sell in the city and consequently grow his business; his second loan was used to invest in durable products for his “garbage pick-up” business, a start-up on the side. Mame now employs three workers, with high hopes to increase this number to six with his next loan.
In addition to his businesses, Mame also runs a local branch of “ASC,” an association which sponsors sports events for their community’s youth. “If I want to do good, the change has to start where I know what’s best for whom, and from there I can navigate how we can best accomplish our mutual end goals,” Mame explained, as he juggled client calls and client visits with my presence.
I listened with rapt attention as he went on to explain to me how important it is to him to encourage the hard work of others around him, and his fervent belief that we all must be teachers in life.
“Teaching is far more than just imparting facts. It’s shaping the way those around us perceive the world and the opportunities in store for them. There’s nothing more rewarding than being part of the jolt of pleasure one gets when they work hard, when they encounter setbacks, and then – ah ha — when something clicks.”
Ablaye had an unmatched combination of wit, sagacity, altruism, and guileless sincerity. I found his views auspicious and fearless, and his ambitions – with a slew of new and innovative projects in the pipeline – even more impressive. I join many others in his community in hoping that his example spawns many followers.
Anna Forsberg (KF19) is a Kiva Fellow, working with UIMCEC in Dakar, Senegal.