I recently had the privilege to be interviewed by David Ralph on the Join Up Dots podcast, one of iTunes’ top podcasts (Catch the link here). After I spoke with David, he suggested I connect with a man named, Ousmane Ndoye. After I had the chance to speak with Ousmane, I knew he belonged on the show.
Ousmane was born in Senegal and now lives in Denver, Colorado. Simple enough story, right?
After being born into a broken home in a small fishing village in Senegal, Ousmane was constantly picked on and abused as a child. So how did he make it out of Africa?
Ousmane, how has brokenness shaped you?
“When my family split up, I went with my dad to live in a compound with one hundred people. I wasn’t accepted or loved or showed compassion. I was beaten, abused, and called by name. I lost my self-esteem and confidence. I thought there was no sense for my life. I couldn’t see my way out; I couldn’t see the riches of life.”
What was it that caused you to change and see a better way?
“I was blessed to have someone who was telling me, ‘Ousmane, man up!’ My great-grandmother was this person. She lived to be one hundred and fifteen years old and she is the one who told me, ‘Keep it real.’ This was a treasure in my life.
I said, ‘What is keep it real?’ At seven years old, I didn’t know, but I kept hearing this from her. She was feeding me with richness.”
At what point in time did you begin to take steps or responsibility for your situation?
“When I was fifteen or seventeen, my grandmother told me to focus on a solution. I began seeing images of America, but I did not know what it was. The keep it real and focusing on solution began sparkling. One day, after playing soccer with friends, I heard American music on the radio.
When I turned twenty, my great-grandmother said, ‘You must do what it takes.'”
What did it take, Ousmane?
“I must rid myself of excuses. I had to become sober from excuses. Excuses are like alcohol or drugs, you think you have a little bit, you’ll be fine. That is not true.
I decided to take one step further and move toward America. At twenty-one years old, I packed a bag and began a ten-year journey across Africa on my way to America. I said to myself, even if I have to die, I am willing.
We crossed the Sahara desert.
It taught me to be perseverant regardless how tough or terrible.”
I cannot hear your story and think about God delivering His people. Now that you’re here, you’ve begun investing in other people. Tell us about that.
“What I’ve understood is that I am here for three big purposes, number one is to do God’s work.
To do God’s work, it doesn’t matter what you do, it matters how you do it. I began by driving taxis. I was willing to learn. I asked my customers many questions and they taught me. I also took high standards for myself: the way I dressed, the way I spoke, my attitude. I think my attitude is why people embraced me.”
This attitude Ousmane, has to do with gratitude, yes?
“You cannot be grateful and judge people. Once you stop judging people, you begin being grateful.
One day, I was picking up a customer and saw that a neighbor’s house was burning. I didn’t think twice, I went in to the fire to help her, to serve my fellow man.”
How have you used humility to define who you are?
“I came to America with two hundred dollars. To many, that isn’t much money, but for me, that money helped me get to Denver. I began to love where I live and the people in my city. When I came to America, I wasn’t looking for what I could get, I wanted to find out what I could give. Since then, I’ve never looked back.
Humbleness starts with giving first and receiving second.”
What is rich to you?
“Richness to me is to be human. To feel that you matter and other people matter. Then, you must be rich socially. You and I, we live halfway across the country, but we have found each other. We are focusing on providing solution. We see problem, we kiss it and hug it, but we want to provide solution. Then intellectually, when you hear something good or read a good book, share it. Do not be a know it all. Then, be rich morally. Last, work hard and be generous.”
Ousmane, you refer to yourself as The Fisherman. Tell me about that.
“In my small fishing village, my ancestors were fisherman. I have always said to myself that I am a fisherman, I love to give people fish, but I love to teach them how to fish.
If you read in the Bible, it talks a lot about the fisherman. I get my inspiration from these Holy Books to impact others.
When I die and people cross my gravestone, I want them to say, ‘That man was a fisherman.'”
My book, Redefine Rich, just cracked the Top 100 on Amazon for Christian Living/Self-Help!
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