Leon Steyn is a Public Speaker, Facilitator-Trainer, and international Author of Books and Articles that teach personal development skills and talent development at organizations.

Words of Encouragement

The Soham Railway Explosion

On June 2, 1944, just before D-Day, driver Benjamin Gimbert and his fireman, James Nightall, were in charge of a freight train delivering bombs to the USAF in White Colne, Essex, UK. As they approached the village of Soham in Cambridgeshire, Benjamin realized that the wagon coupled directly behind the locomotive was on fire. That’s never a good thing, but this fire was particularly dangerous, given that the train was carrying tons of explosives.

He stopped the train, and James came down from the footplate to uncouple the blazing wagon. Only 128 meters (420ft) from the station in Soham, they attempted to ditch the wagon in the open countryside before the bombs exploded. They failed, and seven minutes after Benjamin originally saw the fire, the wagon exploded. It flattened the station building, damaged 600 others, threw Benjamin almost 200 meters (about 600ft) away, and killed two other railway workers who had stayed to stop another train that was headed for the wagon’s path of destruction.

Despite the crater the explosion created that was 6 meters (20ft) deep, the track was up and running again by that evening. Both Benjamin and James were awarded the George Cross, the highest award for non-combat bravery in the British and Commonwealth. Their actions are commemorated with two different plaques in Soham.

Tula García – Guatemala7

Tula Garcia is a 37-year-old single mother, rearing her three adolescent daughters in a three-room reed home in Loma de Paja, Comatán, Guatemala. Thanks to World Neighbors, she is also an entrepreneur.

“When World Neighbors first came, I was afraid to participate because, many years ago, another organization came to promise us support, but they were not serious and it was a setback,” she explains. “I talked to the World Neighbors staff about my fears and they assured me they would not fail us.”

Tula and other community members met with World Neighbors in 2014 and learned how a credit program would allow them to borrow money to expand their businesses. Tula was elected as facilitator of the group and was trained in the best way to track, invest and repay the loan.

“After training I received a check, which I cashed and distributed to the women as I had learned in the trainings,” Tula says. “World Neighbors also trained me to use a spreadsheet so I could track the interest and loan payments made.”

Tula used the microloan to expand her family’s food business. She used to sell only tamales but has since added cooked corn, bread and fruit popsicles called “titucos.” The group of women she leads – which has grown from ten to 20 women – also invests in coffee.

“We buy coffee beans at seven quetzals; then we process it and sell it for 15 quetzals. We are a group of very smart women,” Tula chuckles. One quetzal equals about 13 cents in the United States.

Tula says life in her village has improved since World Neighbors began investing in it last year. She says all 90 of the families living in Loma de Paja participate in programs developed by World Neighbors.

"World Neighbors makes a difference because they provide training,” Tula says. “I put into practice what I learn and I am doing better at my business. I can pay my loan on time every month and still have a fair income for my family.”

Tula has become so successful that her advice is often sought by other women and business leaders. She encourages her group to invite more women to participate and has seen families finally able to afford necessities such as latrines or improved stoves.

An agrarian village, Loma de Paja’s high quality products are being noticed by purchasers and distributors from other areas. Tula hopes that an increase in productivity will help improve the quality of life for all community members.

“I would like to improve our agriculture by returning to traditional organic fertilizers instead of harmful chemicals,” she says. “We also need many things such as latrines and other sanitation services so that we can better fight diseases.”

With the help of World Neighbors support, Tula feels confident that her poor but hardworking community can improve its quality of life. For Tula, that means taking better care of her three daughters.

Her oldest daughters, 18-year-old Olga and 16-year-old Milvia currently attend school. But 12-year-old Heidi stays at home with her mother.

“My youngest had to leave school to help me but I want her to go back to school,” Tula says. “My daughters dream of being professionals and, if my business keeps expanding, I will be able to send them all to school.”

Thanks to World Neighbors, Tula is receiving the training and support she needs to build a better future for her village and for her daughters.

Please do not give up! As a person you have come so far; all people make mistakes, only a few get over those mistakes. Put them behind you – for YOU!

Resources: Photo by Nine Köpfer on Unsplash

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