Lisa Hussain, 28, grew up in Guyana, South America, mostly hearing that she must marry, bear children, and have nothing else to think about as a woman.
Amidst external discouragements, and hardships faced while growing up in a developing country, Lisa, raised by a single mother, turned her path into an inspirational one.
Throughout the conversation, Lisa emphasizes how crossing roads with MCW Global taught her a life lesson about her well-being.
Can you please walk me back in time; how were your childhood and its surroundings, and how has it impacted you to this day?
Much of my childhood is marred by the story of being abandoned by my biological father. It was mostly my mom and me until my stepdad came into our life. I grew up knowing him as my dad.
While my mom did not have the opportunity to go to school, which resulted in limited opportunities for her, she instilled an independent seed in me from very early on. I was three years old and taking the bus to the nursery school. I grew up early on; she wanted my life to be different.
These are simply some glimpses I remember from little me.
Then the teenage years came, and people would say bad things about me because my biological father abandoned me. Their words would haunt me, and it is something I still remember, and this is why I always encourage people to think before they speak.
To combat the negative things people would predict for my life; I grew up with that sort of fear of always having to do above and beyond- almost like a perfectionist.
How would you describe yourself now?
To describe myself, I will share some of my paths in life.
My journey is such that I discover something new about myself every five years. It is a reinvention. Initially, the question would be, “what do I have to do.” Five years ago, I asked, “what makes me happy.”
From all my experiences, I have learned that what makes me happy is being part of change and development, especially in my country. Through this journey, I found out who I am, and now I would describe myself as someone who wants to make her country and, by extension, the world better than I found it.
My mission is to contribute to improving the world; whether I have a stake in the future or not, I want it to be better for future generations.
You mentioned reinventions- elaborate one for us and why it matters.
I was around 13 or 14 when my family migrated to another island, Saint Vincent, in the Caribbean. I saw this as an opportunity to reinvent myself. I was placed in the lowest school in the country at that time; the building was broken, with limited resources and poor facilities.
Here, I would remember what my mom said to me. She says, “It doesn’t matter where you go; it matters what you do.” So, I just focused on what I wanted to do, and I then started to find more and more of myself. It was the best thing ever happened to me because I built my confidence and understood that I was capable, contrary to what I was conditioned to believe.
How being involved with MCW Global helped you personally?
I went into MCW with the mission that I have this project for my community, for which I like someone to help me make it into reality.
However, the biggest surprise for me when I became part of the program was that the focus was not only on my project and its growth but also on me and my growth.
When we had these fantastic modules on mental health and gender and identity and self-assessments, I saw and learned many things that I did not even know I needed to know.
MCW Global reinvented who I am as a young female leader. MCW also taught me that the project and the person (s) on the project go hand in hand.
How can you transfer the skills and learnings gained from MCW to your community?
This is why I stay and will remain with MCW Global.
After MCW Global, I returned to my team and said, “Let’s have some training and chats.”
Now, they are the ones training new people. This is a happy moment for me. This is very impactful because I can see how the knowledge was transferred from MCW Global to me and then from me to my group, and now my group is sharing it with others.
What’s one thing you would like to cultivate for yourself and pass on to future generations?
After my experience with MCW Global, I became an entirely different person, someone I am proud of.
So, if I had to choose one thing, I would encourage you to have a growth mindset that helps you continuously learn and evolve.
Something else I want to leave you with is whoever you are, wherever you are, share knowledge as you go through your leadership journey. Please remember that you will need to share with those coming after you.
Believing I could do amazing things and be a part of the positive change took a while. If you are also struggling with believing in yourself, take that one small step or plunge for an opportunity. You may win some and learn lessons from others. But you will never know what you can do if you don’t try.
Give it all a try, and you will build bridges for yourself and others.
Lisa is studying MSc FinTech at the University of Kent with a Chevening Scholarship.