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Lesson 3: Talent is universal even if there is no opportunity.

The greatest unused resource in the world is the huge potential of people who are not fully nurtured or educated – a reminder of how much we can gain if we only invest better in human capital.

The most notable doctor I met was not a graduate of Harvard Medical School. In fact, he never went to medical school or any school. But Mamitu Gashe, an illiterate Ethiopian woman, suffered from obstetric fistula and was treated at a hospital for a long time. While there, he began to help.

The overworked doctors realized that he was extremely smart and capable and they started giving him more responsibilities. Eventually he began repairing fistulas himself and over time he became one of the most prominent fistula surgeons in the world. When American obstetricians went to the hospital to learn how to repair fistulas, their teacher was often Mamitu.

But, of course, many more mamitas, equally extraordinary and capable, who never get the chance.

A few years ago, I learned that a homeless third grader in Nigeria had won the New York State Chess Championship for his age. I went to the home of the boy, Tanitoluwa “Tani” Adeumi, and his family and wrote about them – and the result was a grant of over $ 250,000 for Adeumis, with a vehicle, full scholarship to private school, job offer parents, independent legal aid and free housing. .

What came next was probably more ongoing. Adeumis accepted housing but kept the money in a foundation to help other homeless immigrants. They thanked him for the officials who kept him in his public school who waived the chess club fees when he was a teenager.

He has continued to rise in the world of chess. Now 11, he has won the North American Chess Championship for his age and is a master with a 2262 rating from the US Chess Federation.

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