When the dream is big


By Patrick Achitabwino:

Guinean teenagers Yaquine Koita and Fode Tounkara risked everything in pursuit of their dreams – the opportunity to study. The two wheel-well stowaways froze to death on a Sabena Airlines flight flying from Conakry, Guinea, to Brussels, Belgium, on July 28, 1999.

Their bodies were discovered on August 2 in the airplane’s rear right-hand wheel bay at Brussels International Airport, after having made at least three return trips between Conakry and Brussels.


All they carried were plastic bags with birth certificates, school report cards, family photographs and a letter. Though the letter was imperfectly written in French, it shown the world the dreams they had.

Their dream was straight forward in the letter. It read: To the Excellencies and officials of Europe: We suffer enormously in Africa. Help us. We have problems in Africa. We lack rights as children. We have war and illness, we lack food… We want to study and we ask you to help us to study so that we can be like you, in Africa.

When your dream is big, you are ready to die for it. Even if you may not make it, the strides registered can benefit generations to come. You would have set the foundations on which lives of other people can start building on.


When your dream is big, you become so focused and determined that nothing can stop you. You look at death straight in the eye such that death itself fears and paves the way for you to pass.

When your dream is big, you walk barefoot over the thorns of disappointment; you walk barefoot over the hot coals of being ignored and unappreciated; you swim across the raging currents of waters of negative perceptions people have about you; you run barefoot through the hot desert sand of being belittled and considered a failure.

The mind of a big dreamer who rolls his or her dreams into action does not see obstacles, has no time for complaints, has no appetite to be stuck in the comfort of the past.

The mind of a dreamer rolling dreams into action stops at nothing and has no time to look back. It, as always, knows one thing and one thing alone – going forward.

People have quit comfortable jobs to establish their own enterprises, from a humble beginning, that eventually grew and became respected.

People have walked for months to distant countries; others even losing lives in the Mediterranean Sea, all in pursuit of their dreams. It is not that they are resistant to pain. It is not that they have the ability to see how they will sail through despite all the challenges.

It is just that they are determined to make it no matter the circumstances and that even if they die along the way, they would have died trying.

When you look at people that have achieved, the self-made millionaires and billionaires, the rags to riches people, take note, that behind their smiles are pains of countless disappointments, litanies of many failures before success registered with them.

When you shake their hands, you can feel the message that their fingerprints have: it is never easy but possible. The look in their eyes carries a silent message: I am a product of great struggle.

To make it, you have to find inspiration in pain; you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Move out of the comfort zone. The comfort zone is the death zone, said Tony Dovale. The comfort zone is no better incubator for growth. It is pain and struggles that unleash the best out of you.

Pain tells you that only you can stop it. Pain pushes you to open doors you never saw before because life was too comfortable.

Pain plunges you into the deep end of the sea so that you have no choice but to learn swimming. You give up, you die. You make it, you become a better swimmer. Choose today. Either you become fish in an ocean or a shark in an ocean. The choice is yours.

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