Marissa Izma


There’s nothing I love more than a riveting conversation on a topic of grave interest. With that said, I have been fortunate enough to indulge scholars, students, icons and professionals in verbal discourses which at times have become quite animated to say the least. The latest one I had was with this law enforcement officer who resigned his job. My curiosity got the better of me and I inquired and what I got knocked my nice cotton socks off. He said he did not feel like he was being the best version of himself. He did not feel happy and he did not feel that his contribution was sufficient. I was not about to let the ambiguity go and so I asked, “What contribution?” and his reply, “… to the global community; my contribution to make the world a better place.” He now works fulltime at a shelter for financially devastated families; hats off to him indeed.

In this feature of Championing Change, we go back to the continent of Africa but not to Ghana. Now we are in Zambia with Marissa Izma, a Canadian who ended up spending 8 years in the Zambia and to this point is still there. What is she doing? How is she surviving? What is she like? Please do not hate me but I am a spoiler by nature however I will behave this once and only give away one answer. Marissa is very much like the fellow that I started this article talking about.

Marissa is a Laurentian University grad, from Stratford, Ontario who encountered Life Change Adventures when she joined a two week initiative to Ecuador. Soon she became a treasured and inspiring partner. Marissa, a co-founder of the organization Same World Same Chance, is currently deeply involved with another non-profit organization in the African country using tablets to teach kids Math skills. She works with students from grades 4 to 12 but is primarily in the program management domain. Marissa noted that in Zambia, it’s only the wealthy who can afford education but now she is working assiduously to counter that. She believes that education is the key. It was refreshing to hear her say that she is just trying to be herself, to be happy, to be caring, to love, for as she puts it, “What good am I if I am not doing those things?”

I asked Marissa the root reason she is living so selflessly and her answered to a very large extent mirrored that of the law enforcement officer as she said she is here because she believes the world can be a better place and we all have to do our part. She also thinks that everyone around her, family, friends, students and others, including her, benefit when she works to be the best version of herself that she possibly can be. At present, her organization is one of the fortunate ones which have excellent funding, growing at an alarming rate, reaching more kids and providing more jobs. The objective is to have a reach that is felt all across Africa.

Nearing the end of the interview, Marissa had some advice for youth beaming with potential. “Just to follow your hearts, not to let anyone think that what you’re doing is crazy or impossible, because if you truly believe in what you’re doing than it is valuable. it might not work out exactly as you dreamed it to be (as was the case with me), but if you work hard and believe in what you’re doing then good will come out of it, guaranteed”

Marissa Izma, the humanitarian who is striving to make the world a better place.


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