4270510Minus 10, minus 8, minus 10 again. The temperatures in northern Tajikistan have stayed well below zero Celsius since mid-January. The snow-covered roads are hard to navigate, village schools are not heated. Children have been staying at home, with entire families squashed in one stove-heated room. Last fall it was the cotton harvest that distracted the school children from studies – they were sent to pick cotton and missed 2 months of school.  Now it’s the unusually cold weather that is the culprit. It’s not surprising that in this poverty-stricken ex-Soviet country, up to 25 percent of girls drop out of school by the age of 15, and many are married off at that early age or soon after.

I spent the last few days helping to negotiate the delivery of the second batch of winter clothes to school girls in the snowed-under villages. After a thorough interrogation by the Tajik authorities about our organization, Bilqa, we were assured that the clothes would be delivered by next week. Fingers crossed, the girls will get the much needed sweaters, scarfs and hats very soon and might go back to schools.

Why do I choose to spend time taking care of the girls who live thousands kilometers away? Simply because I believe in giving back and helping the poor, deprived and underprivileged. I would not feel comfortable enjoying my easy life in central Paris if I did not have a strong link to a social cause. Thankfully, I am not the only one. There are many of us, big-hearted professionals, leaders and entrepreneurs, who contribute socially, make a difference, or at least want to.

Last week I was privileged to meet David Jones, a former CEO of the publicly trading French company, Havas, and also co-founder of the global youth forum One Young World.  David wrote the book “Who Cares Wins: Why Good Business is Better Business” and firmly believes in what I believe: only businesses who care about making a lasting difference that touches many lives, only businesses that are socially responsible have the future.

I believe the same about individuals. Each one of us carries social responsibility to improve the world. My personal mission is to help you to find what matters to you, to realize your full potential and make that impact in the world you’ve been longing to make for years.

The first step, as I have said before, is to get crystal clear on what you care most about, the area of your passion. Some of the questions you can ask yourself:  What do I think matters most? What scares me about the world when I think of my children’s lives?  What cause would I want to contribute to, today, even in a tiny way? What is it costing me not to do anything?  I give back by supporting girls’ education in poor countries. How do YOU give back?

Many of you reading this, you are already contributing and making impact. You are my champions. Please share your experiences in comments’ section.

Others –  know that you are only a step away. The world needs you. It needs your special gifts and your big heart. Don’t wait. Start today.

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