Breadseller or model, a good job is attractive

15 03 2019

by Chinwuba Iyizoba

Jumoke the bread seller whose ordinary work turned her into a model has uncovered how extraordinary and attractive an ordinary work done well, with love and a smile can lead to success.

In 2016, 27 yr old breadseller, Olajumoke Orisaguna—Jumoke, a mother of two was pounding the streets, carrying her wares on her head, eking a living to save her family from starvation.
Unawares, she walked into a street photo-shoot and was caught in the background. While editing the pictures later, the female photo-journalist was so smitten by her photogenic beauty and determined to find her, she posted the picture on instagram and successfully tracked her down and offered her a job as model, thus making an inspiring rag-to-riches story that held Nigerians spell bound for years. Fans couldn’t get enough of her, hope spread among desolate millions in the streets that one day their luck will change.

Olajumoke Orisaguna walks into a photo-shoot accidental
The Picture of Jumoke at background that made her famous

Her parents were too poor to send her to a formal school, Jumoke had trained as a hairdresser because and in 2010, met and married a craftsman. But their combined income wasn’t adequate to feed their two children. To haul the family out of appalling straits, she moved from Osun to Lagos with one of her daughters, to work in a bakery. It was a hard and difficult work, on foot each day with a tray laden with bread loafs on her head. Yet, come rain or shine, she kept a smile on her face.
That afternoon walking past people talking pictures, unconcerned, she smiled and hurried on, calling for customers; little did she know that Lady Luck saw her.

She had since become a runaway success, yet she remains inwardly unaffected by it, humble and straight talking her reality TV shows are filled with great street wisdom and is the darling of you-tubers.

In one of the episodes, she spoke with her usual unadorned candidness, of the shocking things she had seen on social media, things like a man getting married to a man and a woman marrying another woman.

With the candidness of a child she expressed it as utter “unNigerian” and unthinkable.

Jumoke’s wisdom

She was simply expressing her opinion, and besides she isn’t a lettered woman, and as Peter Kreeft, philosophy professor of Boston College said, “There are certain falsehoods that you need a PhD to believe.”

Yet, the floodgates of hate and cyber bullying were immediately flung wide open and attacks on her person and family began. Orchestrated and led by a Ghanaian self proclaimed transsexual who continues to smear her, intent on ruining her, and getting her blacklisted by modeling companies.

Not satisfied with hounding her job, they have turned on her husband and marriage, spreading vicious rumors that she was sleeping with other men and disrespecting her husband.

Yet, come hell or high water, Jumoke is refusing to succumb to threats, and continues sharing her hard gotten wisdoms with Nigerian youths who adore her. And she is not all talk, often swinging into action when she comes across women in grim straits. She recently convinced her promoters to intervene and build a house for an aged woman she saw being evicted from her home.

Jumoke

Yet, young people best remember that Jumoke’s success wasn’t entirely of her own making. “Lady Success” lent her a hand whilst she was busy with her ordinary work selling bread, for love of husband and children.

How true what someone said, that success, true success is really carrying out the duties of everyday and the little things of each day well, with a smile if possible and always elegant. For it is along ordinary paths of life that we meet our destiny.

Still her success is an unlikely story for millions of indigent youths. A rare combination of luck and the goodness of a relentless photo-journalist had made her what she is today, and many Nigerians may never have such luck. They should not be disheartened however, but rather continue doing their ordinary work well, throwing in a smile along, even if their work should suffer the privation of remaining unclaimed till death.

They should remember that just as a man submits to the cruel torture of a surgical operation in order to save his lives; it is quite possible ordinary life’s cruel sufferings might save the life of their souls if accepted with love and a smile. “Pain or suffering of any kind for that matter can, be bearable when accepted as a form of purification,” some spiritual writers say.

And anyone who examines himself honestly will find much to purify: sins, omissions in love, disorderly inclinations which must be paid either in this life or in the next. Suffering is necessarily part of this life, and those who wish to go straight to heaven, after a life spent wholly in God’s service must not shrink from it

And St Paul exhorts in scriptures, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us when we contemplate God face to face.”
And St. Josemaria Escriva adds,“ Understand this well: there is something holy, something divine, hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it.”

Infact, Escriva, with Gospel in hand, constantly taught that God does not want us simply to be good . . . , he wants us to be saints, through and through. However, he wants us to attain that sanctity, not by doing extraordinary things, but rather through ordinary, common activities. It is the way they are done which must be uncommon. There, in the middle of the street, in the office, in the factory, we can be . . . holy, provided we do our job.”
Young people might not all become famous like Jumoke, but their work no matter how ordinary, done with love, and extraordinarily well, is attractive and is a sure path to happiness.





The Girl Who Looked Death in the Eye and Smiled

8 03 2019

#InternationalWomensDay

by Chinwuba Iyizoba

People the world over flee illness and suffering and despise death as an evil that must be avoided at all cost. They feel themselves most unfortunate, even unlucky if ever one or the other should overcome them. Yet, there was a young girl who did not despise and fly from suffering and pain, but even looked death in the eye with a smile, accepting and embracing it as a gentle caress full of affection from a God who loved her so much.

Who was this girl and how did she come to have such uncommon attitude in the face of pain, suffering, even death. What gave her mind to understand that acceptance rather than hatred and rejection are the most effective antibiotics against infecting the soul with bitterness. What were the outcome of these her radical ideas?

Her name was Maria Montse Grases, a young Spaniard who lived in Barcelona. She was only 17 in 1957 when she was diagnosed with a rare and painful bone cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma. In the 50’s   Ewing’s sarcoma was a death sentence.


Maria Montse Grases

 Montse loved life and had an infectious smile straight from the heart. Her eyes shown like diamonds, tall and strong, it seems there was almost always a perpetual smile on her face, a smile that came straight from the heart. Her eyes were kind, friendly and filled with playful mischief.  She was neat and tidy and her clothes reflected style and taste. She especially liked a green plaid skirt that reached her ankles

  She liked sport and music as well as traditional local dances. She was a good athlete, playing basketball, tennis, and ping-pong. But her favorite recreation was outings with friends.

In many sense she was like any other girl; yet, she was unlike many other girls because she radiated an inner charm and her virtues and character made her attractive to all who met her. 

She almost never worried about herself but busied herself taking care of others, she showered love and attention on the needy and suffering; and took her friends to visit poor families and sick people, and she regularly gave religions classes to the local children in parishes, and would sometimes bring them toys and sweets.

 She took great care of her spiritual life of prayers because she loved God with a personal love that was both intimate and filled with reverence.  To her, God was a friend with whom she could share everything, the deepest secrets of her soul, she laid bare to him daily in prayer and anything that worried her.

Like every young woman, she had her personal shortcomings.  Impulsive and brusque at times, she however never compromised with her personal defects, wrestling resolutely against them and struggling to control her occasional ill temper, and be friendly and jovial with everyone.

This greatness of heart shone like a brilliant star when she demonstrated a rare capacity to dedicate herself to something greater than herself. 

When she was 11, her parents came in contact with Opus Dei an institution in the Catholic Church that shows ordinary people how to be holy in the ordinary circumstances of each day. They readily understood the message of Opus Dei and within two years both had joined Opus Dei.

Montse’s parents thought her how to deal with Jesus with confidence, they strove to make her stable companion of Jesus sparing no effort to make it happen.  It was her mother who first suggested she visited a center of Opus Dei, where Christian and human formation is give to young girls. In attending the means of formation given in the center of Opus Dei, she perceived one day God was calling her to serve him as a celibate member of Opus Dei. She was sixteen

After meditating, praying, and seeking advice, she asked to be admitted to Opus Dei. From then on she struggled decisively and with constancy to seek holiness in her daily life. She struggled to be in constant conversation with God, to discover the will of God in the fulfillment of her duties and in caring for little details out of love, and to make life pleasant for those around her. She was able to transmit to many of her relatives and friends the peace that comes from living close to God.

Her brother George soon took notice that Montse had changed. Though externally, she was the same, same dress, she still attended classes on cooking and arts, but her brothers noticed that she was no longer arguing with him, and was more affectionate and tactful. She seemed to have suddenly grown up.

What made her so readily generous with God?  Some people attribute it to her parent’s generosity with God in having a large family. Montse was the second of nine children.

“Me and my wife agreed in everything, ready to start a Christian family, accepting all children God wanted to send.” Her father said.

Ewing’s sarcoma

One day on June 1958, Montse went skiing with friends and injured her leg. The pain was excruciating and won’t go away; her parents took her to a clinic. After lengthy investigations, the doctor took her parent aside, and told them she had a rare kind of bone cancer, causing the great pain she had been experiencing. But worse, it was incurable. She was going to die.

Devastated, her parents wept inconsolably, unable to speak or break the news to her.

Finally, they told her.

“Would it help if they cut the bad leg?” she asked.

“I am afraid my daughter, that will not help.” her sad father said.

To her parents surprise she brightened up and began singing a Mexican song and that night, as her mother recalled slept soundly.

Little by little, her illness got worse though, and she spent many a sleepless night squirming in pain; the treatment made her suffer a lot. Her pain increased to the point of being almost unbearable. From February 16th on, her leg was so swollen up to the hip that her skin began to crack.

Treating the leg was terribly painful. But instead of complaining, she hummed a song. She always had an affectionate word for those who treated her leg, even though they couldn’t help hurting her.

She couldn’t eat. To take anything was a real torture. Since she couldn’t swallow anything, she sucked on a piece of ice for refreshment. She usually commented that she was a coward because she was afraid the suffering would come.  

Jesus was afraid to die?

At first, she naturally was afraid to die. One day she said to a friend: “I’m afraid of dying, because I’m afraid to be alone.”

Her friend tried to encourage her by mentioning the scene of Jesus in Gethsemane was afraid to die.

“Jesus was afraid to die?” She exclaimed, astonished that she hadn’t thought about that before. Joy flooded into her heart.

“What joy to find myself afraid together with Jesus,” Montse exclaimed ecstatically clasping her hands, her face radiant with peace and joy.

 “Together with Jesus I will face death happily!”

The end drew to a close rapidly however.  At the beginning of March they had to call the doctor quickly because. Montse had such a weak pulse that it was hardly noticeable.

The doctor, when he took her pulse couldn’t hide his concern that was noticed by all. Montse broke the anguished silence by picking up the doctor’s bag from the bed and saying: “Mama, have you seen this strange bag?”

This made everyone smile.

She grew much worse. They thought the moment had arrived to give her the Blessing of the Sick. She also thought it would be good to have it as soon as possible. A priest of Opus Dei administered this sacrament. Montse followed the ritual with great devotion, showing no sadness. Every once in a while she smiled at her mother who knelt at the foot of the bed.

On March 18, eve of the feast of St. Joseph, it seemed that the hour of her death had arrived. Montse was very happy.

“How do I look,” she asked those who were staying with her.

 “All right,” someone answered. Montse wanted them to say, “Worse.” And when asked, “How do you feel?” she answered unenthusiastically, “Me? Fine; just look.” The clock struck eleven, and she asked, “What time is it? Am I still here?”

At twelve she was asked, “Montse, do you want to pray?”

 They said the Angelus. At that moment she was more awake, and she said: “Do you know what I think? I’m not going to worry any more. When God wants, he’ll take me.”

Soon to Heaven

St. Joseph’s day passed, and her general condition improved somewhat. The doctor came to see her and Montse asked later: “What did he say? What’s happening? Aren’t I going?”

“He said you might go at any moment,” they answered.

 “Can you imagine? Soon to Heaven, soon to Heaven! Will you let me go?” she exclaimed happily, hugging the person who had told her the doctor’s comment.

Little by little she weakened. The nights were the worst. A continuous sweat left her exhausted. She became very thirsty and felt suffocated. The night before her death, Montse wanted to say something. But in spite of the effort she made no one could understand her. Early in the morning of that Holy Thursday, March 26, 1959, the directress of the Opus Dei house that she attended was close to her bed, and Montse asked her to say aspirations since she herself couldn’t talk anymore. About ten o’clock she tried to sit up to see the picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary that she had in front of her bed.

She whispered: “How much I love you. When are you coming to take me?” These were her last words. Her life ebbed away little by little.

At noon, those who were with her prayed the Angelus. She must have followed it with her heart. It was her last glance toward the One she loved so much, and to whom she had said so many things during her lifetime. Those who were with her began to say the Rosary in a soft voice, and they had just finished the first mystery when Montse died

Montserrat Graces, an 18 year old girl when she died on March 25, 1959 and was recently declared venerable by Pope Francis. She is a model for all women on women’s day. 








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