HOW this ORDINARY PERSON turned $1 a day into EXTRAORDINARY things…

Let me tell you about Riza. She is a nurse living in Jizan, Saudi Arabia. Sounds ORDINARY?  WAIT, there’s MORE to this person than meets the eye.

15 years ago she was my sponsor child. A 13 year old girl on a passport size photo sent to me in a ‘welcome pack’ from Child Fund Australia. I didn’t feel any sort of extraordinary inspiration to do it, I just felt, seeing I was pretty comfortable in Australia, why not?

In her profile, she came from Zamboanga City.   Her father was quite ill, so her mother and her brothers worked on the fields. It was tough to earn money because of the unpredictable weather changes. Riza was the only child given the GRAND PRIZE of $1 a day to gain an education.

We wrote to each other for years. What struck me about Riza, despite her absolutely challenging circumstances, was she never once complained about her life.

She was forever grateful for every little blessing she had. She would write and share her circumstances but never with the “poor me” victim attitude. I must have played victim over in Sydney much more than she did.  Despite it all she had a spirit of triumph.  Riza had faith in someone beyond her.

Sometimes I wouldn’t know what to write. She would share that her dream was to own one pair of shoes. Whilst over in Sydney I was spending huge amounts of dollars owning several shoes, throwing parties, going on holidays and buying excess things. I wrote to her and just kept encouraging her.

Occasionally for her birthday I would send over $50. She would send me an entire list of things she did with that money. She would spend it on a uniform, books and things she needed for her education and share it with her family. She did not waste the smallest amount I gave her. I think of $50 here and how easily it could be spent on a lunch.

What was amazing was her dream. Even though she came from materially poor circumstances, she pictured herself one day working in a hospital and imagined how good it would be to wear a nurse’s uniform. She visualised rising beyond her situation. She also had a reason for such a big dream – her family. She would support them and provide food at the table.

After my sponsorship ended she continued to university. She managed to scrape through by her family borrowing money and slowly paying it off during the harvest of vegetable and rice. She had an allowance of 40-50 pesos a day which is around $1. Her transport cost her 38 pesos a day. Sometimes she craved butter cake and would save up for a month to treat herself.

Riza completed university and I was so happy for her. I had only sponsored her $1 a day for a few years  and my father continued the sponsorship while I was a missionary. But now she was being resourceful.

It wasn’t an easy road. When she graduated, there were NO jobs. She eventually did get a job but did NOT GET PAID. Riza could have complained or could have said I’m not working here. But she persevered with her dream of becoming a nurse. She paid for her daily needs such as her uniform, etc…and worked for FREE. This to me is determination and courage. She worked for FREE for EIGHT MONTHS.  We both kept praying for a better situation. She fixed her eyes on her goal.

Finally an opportunity came up to work in Saudi and actually be paid. I remember her writing to me and sharing how much she wanted that job but she had mild scoliosis so there was a question whether she’d pass the health check. This was a big risk; just the application required a huge amount of money which Riza did not have. She was resourceful and found a way to borrow money. I was so happy to hear that she made it.

It was a tough journey – not a bed of roses at all! Even in Saudi there are challenges, but she made it!

She recently said to me, “When I was younger I only dreamed of being able to eat at Jollibee or McDonalds and now I’ve been there  A FEW TIMES”

We had our first coaching session last week across the world on Skype. I couldn’t believe how excited she was. She was so grateful for those measly dollars I gave her. I felt embarrassed because that was nothing for me – she did all the hard work and lived through the challenging journey. I was surprised (freaked out actually) she even posted a photo of me during our Skype session on her Facebook page. She is an extraordinary person

Now she has a goal to make it to a western country with her sights set on Canada in the next 4 years. She has no idea how she will get a sponsor but she is visualising herself working in a hospital there. That’s her new impossible dream, and you know what? I believe she will achieve it.

So often we complain that we are in a rut. Everything is going wrong for us. We are going nowhere fast (as I thought) yet we have doors open and opportunities in every direction. Wealth and abundance is all around us if we open our eyes up.

Riza only had one avenue – that $1 a day and she stretched that out to a lifelong dream which is now supporting her family and her dream is only growing bigger.

If she can do that, how much more can we live a dream in our own life if we only searched for the doors. Crisis? Hard economic times? GFC? That’s NO EXCUSE NOT to LIVE a DREAM,  we still have MORE than $1 a day.

Stories like her life help to really reframe our minds back to reality and recognise the abundance of opportunities we have before us.

Through my 6 years of university education, all my training opportunities and after all the books and blogs I’ve read about the most successful people in the world,  it’s Riza Casimiro in Jizan, Saudi  and her road to success that I am gaining great insights from. The following is why I believe Riza succeeded and will continue to succeed:

1. GRATITUDE- I really believe gratitude gets you a long way. She never saw herself as a victim but a victor. She was thankful to a greater power than herself and never saw the glass half empty but half full. This is something we can practise on a daily basis.   When you think your life is crappy, do what Sandy Forster says, “Remember that your life is a dream life for millions of people around the world”.  I never go to sleep without thinking of 5 things to be grateful for – even if that is just having a warm cosy bed. Pretty soon you will see how extraordinary your own life is.

2. SHE HAD A DREAM - A goal bigger than she thought she could achieve. Am impossible dream. Setting goals inspires us to rise beyond our situation and something to work towards. Goals help us to focus on what we REALLY want in our life.  What is your dream?


3. SHE HAD A BIG ENOUGH “WHY” – A big enough reason which was for her family to survive. Dr Demartini says we NEED to have a big enough WHY to pursue a goal. If we don’t have a big enough reason we won’t stick it through. We will focus on the pain, rather than the prize. Try sitting down and listing the benefits of pursuing your goal. Push yourself to come up with 100 reasons. It will give you the desire to make it through the toughest obstacles that get in the way. Napoleon Hill says desire to a goal is like fuel to a car.

4. PERSEVERANCE- She stuck it through with determination and remained focus even though she DIDN’T GET PAID  FOR 8 MONTHS!  In Australia if you don’t get paid  you get supported by the government. In the Philippines, you starve and so does your family. There you need a fighting spirit. How quickly we give up at the first sign of trouble. In a way I believe it is the Universe saying, “How much do you really want this?”


 Remember, Dr Demartini says, “You’re not alive just to get by or survive. You’re here to realize your grandest dreams…””


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