His name was Athler

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VET on Rise
May 1, 2019
August 11, 2019
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His name was Athler

This is a story of Athler unrelenting quest for happiness and fulfilment. A story of love, happiness, courage, determination, and leadership of a boy in an African country that learnt to be a leader for his family, his tribe and his nation.

I was travelling to Angola to see the ruin of Kongo. Our plane landed at Malawi’s airport due to technical difficulty. It seemed we were stuck there until the issue to be sorted out. My tour guide checked his map and told me there are some villages nearby that we can go and visit while we are waiting. We decided to go to the closest one to us. When people especially kids saw us, they ran towards us hoping for some food or drink. We shared our suppliers with them, and everyone soon walked away having some share of food and drink. A few steps from the place that I was standing there was a 6-7 years old kid laying down on the ground and looking at us. I approached him and asked why didn’t you run for the food and drink, aren’t you hungry, or thirsty? Yes, I am hungry and very thirsty but if I lie down on the floor, I feel less intense. Plus, all these kids are my brothers and sisters, or friends and they deserve more than me, he said. Why do you think they deserve it more than you? I asked. Because I am stronger and when is not enough to share, I let them have it, he said.

I offered him my bottle of water and some biscuits. He took them and ran towards a dirty tent on the corner. I followed him. I saw him helping an old woman to seat and he was trying to give some of the water to her. Then he broke the biscuits into small pieces and gave them to her one by one. The tears were running on my face. The old woman looked at me and smiled. Thank you, she said. I lost my voice as well as losing my mind. Coming from one of the richest cities in the world. A city that tons of food and drink through in the rubbish bins daily. I just sat there and watched them eating and drinking joyfully. She soon lay down again. This is my mother, he said. No one comes to visit her here, as they say, she has a contingent disease.  In fact, you should not be here, he said. But you are here, how about you? I said. I don’t get sick, he said. Why not? I told you I am stronger than others, so I won’t get sick. I decided to stay healthy and help my mother and my small brothers and sisters. If I’m weak then I can’t be there to take care of them.

You don‘t talk or act like a kid. How did you learn to talk and act like a true leader? I saw my dad died in front of my eyes. I didn’t cry as I believe he went to a better place. A place that there is plenty to eat and drink. But, at that moment, I promised to don’t let that happen to my mother and brothers and sisters. So, you see why hunger, thirst and diseases can’t hurt me, he said. OMG, I knew there must be a strong reason for us to get stuck in this place and not be able to continue our travel. It was you. It was the extraordinary power of your mind that made us come here.

A 6-7 years old kid that talks, acts and teaches like a guru, like a hero. Tell me then do you have any dreams or desires? I asked. Why should I tell you? He said. Just because you fed us you think you own us, he said.  No, I’m sorry, you’re right, I said. Now, you’ve been rude. Didn’t she trust you and shared the last bit of water and food with us? Said the woman on the floor. It’s because she’s going to laugh at me and think I’m insane, he said. Nothing you tell me will make me laugh at you, I said. I want to have so much money so I can send my mother and other sick people in my neighbourhood to the hospital, so they get better. I want to have power and knowledge to create our own food from the ground and dig lots of water from the deep down in the earth. I wish to learn how to write and read and teach all my friends and neighbours as well, he said.

I was going insane, I thought. This boy, his mother, the hungry kids that were sharing the little food and water with each other. Is this a lesson for me to learn? The boy came close and sits in front of me, looking at me with his big bright eyes. I held his hand. You shouldn’t touch me, you get my germs and get sick, he said. No white person is touching us. What is your belief? Do you think I’m germ’s free? People get sick because they see a disease when they look at you, I said. People who dare to touch you or laugh at your dream when they hear your story are not at fault. They see all poverty, hunger, and thirst around you and relate them to you as if they are part of you as a person. And this is not just about you; this is how they run their own life too. Only a hand full of people in this world know that there is a dominating power within us that can turn any burning desires and dreams into its physical equivalence. The same power within you that makes you believe there is always hope regardless of all poor results that surrounds you.

Do you mean I have the power to change the current circumstances? He said. You better believe it, I said. But I’m only a child, he said. It’s not the age or size of your physical body that matters. It’s the size of your mental power that counts. Your words are beautiful, strong, and empowering, he said. And so are your dreams, I said. Can you teach me to read and write? He said. I took my pen and notepad out of my bag and wrote a word on the paper. What does it say? He asked. It says hope, h, o, p, e. He started to read and spell the word and then grabbed the pen and wrote the word down many times without looking at it.

Can you teach me another? He said. Sure, I will. But before I do can you tell me what is the meaning of the word that you just learnt? He looked at me for a second and said: hope is what you just planted in my mind. It’s believing in good things to come if you really wish for them. I smiled at him and wrote another word. What does this say? He asked. It says faith. He repeated the words many times and learnt it as quickly as the first one. Then came closer to me and said: faith is believing in light, beauty, and abundance, he said. Where did you learn these words? I said. They are just rushing through my head. It’s like a gate is opened up in my mind, he said. Looking at him with admiration forced myself to write another word. What does this mean? It’s love, I said. Love is the happiness on my mother’s face, it’s the sharing the small piece of biscuit and water that made her smile. Love is scarifying, the challenges and going ahead in life no matter what? He said.

The tears were running on my cheek. You are the best school I’ve ever had, I said. What you thought me in less than an hour had more value of all my life’s learning combined. And you gave me the hope, the faith and love to carry on, he said. He wiped off my tears and kissed my check. I am forever grateful, and I promise I’m not going to disappoint you. He said and rushed outside. I moved to go after him. His name is Athler, his mum said. It’s a beautiful name, I said. You must be so proud of him. Yes, he is the main reason for me to still hang out and don’t give up, she said. Yes, you meant the world to him, I said. Thank you, she said. No, I should thank you. Take care, I said and walked out of the tent.





May johnston
May johnston
PhD in engineering, Entrepreneur and inventor.


  1. Jay says:

    An awesome story!

  2. Paul says:

    Such a determination for a young boy.

  3. […] story of a rodent’s unrelenting quest for happiness and […]

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