Last summer, my wife and I visited Arch’s Iguana and Marine Park in Roatan Island, Honduras. As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by at least 100 or so anxious iguanas waiting to be fed by the new arrival of enthusiastic visitors. We were told that there were over 4,000 iguanas on the property roaming freely. But what resonated with me wasn’t the amount of iguanas we encountered or their large size; it was the story behind how they arrived there.
The story goes like this…
There was a woman who would see an iguana outside of her window everyday. One day she decided to feed it leftover food scraps. The next day, two iguanas showed up. The woman began feeding both of them scraps. Then there were three, four, five, six, seven and so on, and so on, and so on, until there were thousands. Although she could no longer feed all of them, locals and visitors began to follow her routine. Eventually, the 12 acre area became a safe haven for these creatures and one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island. This provided a good source of income for the woman and her family as well as the local community. After hearing the story, I thought to myself: good things come to those who give without expecting anything in return.
Let me break it down for you.
So, you have this woman who saw an iguana outside of her window that she thought looked hungry and lonely. Although the woman didn’t have much to give, she decided to help the iguana out by giving him food scraps. Well, that one iguana was so excited about the woman’s generosity that he spread the word to other iguanas in the area. He told his sister, who told their parents, who told their cousins, who told their friends and so on and so on. Initially, the woman was surprised by the number of iguanas surrounding her home, but grew more surprised that her good deed eventually provided another stream of income for her family and the local community. She didn’t give scraps to the first iguana saying to herself “If I do this, I will make a financial gain in the end”. She simply gave out of the kindness of her heart. Good things come to those who give without expecting anything in return. Make it a habit to impact the lives of those in need when you are presented with the opportunity.
How can you impact someone’s life? Where do you begin?
I recommend that you start with kind gestures to those around you. Start with your family, friends, neighbors, classmates, teachers, and school administrators. Offer to help your parents cook a meal, help a friend with their homework, offer to assist a neighbor with yard work, teach a classmate how to solve that complicated math problem, offer to help your teacher clean the classroom, or even ask your principal if you could be a liaison to help new students become familiar with the school. Remember, no gesture is too small and every effort contributes to making those on the receiving end feel good. Volunteering your time is one of best things you can do to impact those in need.
Personally, volunteering locally, nationally and internationally has provided me with some of my most rewarding experiences. Whether it was tutoring students at a local school, cleaning the streets of Southside Chicago, or spending time with children at an orphanage in Oaxaca, Mexico and George Town, Malaysia, I’ve always walked away realizing that although I gave of myself, I too learned a lesson or met someone who made an impact on my life. This was despite the fact that my sole focus or mission was to impact someone else. Therefore, I repeat: good things come to those who give without expecting anything in return.
So, educators, parents and students - how will you help iguanas today or in the future? And I don’t mean actual iguanas, I mean people. But if you help out iguanas in the process, that’s a plus! Email us your story at firstname.lastname@example.org! We’d love to hear from you. Thanks for reading and as always...
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