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  • Writer's pictureDr. Yakama Manty Jones

2023: At Personal Crossroads Amidst the Global SDG Journey

As the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve, the air is often filled with resolutions and promises for a better tomorrow. This was me at about this same time in 2022, contemplating my goals for 2023. As the world marks the halfway point to the 2030 deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), little did I know that 2023, which stood as a year of introspection and action on a global scale, would lead me to crossroads- ones I have never wished to be at.

In my household, January usually brings with it the celebration of my wedding anniversary and the delight of my second daughter's birthday, moments of pure joy that illuminated the start of the year. Alongside these usual personal joys, my professional life took a significant leap forward in January 2023 when I embarked on a new role at a global consulting firm. In this arena, I found myself not just occupying space but commanding it as, alongside a fantastic team, I support governments, international development institutions and social change organisations towards delivering impactful results in key sectors across Africa.

On the second day of onboarding in this new role, January 17th 2023, I lost my father, rock and biggest fan- Sanah Johnsen Mara. His departure was not just a personal tragedy; it was a seismic shift in the landscape of my life. In a year where the world collectively focused on recovering from the impact of global crises and accelerating progress towards global development goals, my personal world was enveloped in profound grief. His passing marked the end of an era, a reminder of the delicate balance between life's grand plans and its fragile, unpredictable nature. It was a chapter that concluded with lessons in love, legacy, and the enduring impact of a life well-lived.

Throughout this year, I have navigated an ocean of emotions, each wave a different challenge. Each day brought a new wave of grief, sometimes overwhelming yet interspersed with tender memories. Balancing the intensity of grief with the demands of my career, fulfilling my roles as a wife, mother, and friend, and upholding my responsibilities as a citizen and a believer has been a journey marked by strength and vulnerability. I leaned into the comfort offered by family and friends, their presence a steady anchor amidst the storm. I also found solace in my work, where dedicating myself to impactful projects served as a distraction and a meaningful way to channel my energy and emotions. My faith has been a beacon, guiding me through the darkest moments and reminding me to trust in a purpose greater than my immediate circumstances.

As I stand at the year's end, my heart is a complex landscape of sorrow and gratitude. The loss of my father remains a tender wound, yet it is intertwined with a sense of pride for the obstacles I've overcome. I am endlessly grateful for the support of my husband, daughters, family, and friends, whose unwavering presence has been my stronghold. Their support, coupled with my resolve, has propelled me forward.

Looking to the future, I carry with me the lessons of 2023 and the resolve to live with the loss of my dad as part of my narrative, using it to fuel my drive for impact and excellence. I am more determined than ever to leave a legacy that transcends the challenges and to be a beacon of strength and inspiration, especially for those who see themselves in me. This year, with its blend of joy and pain, has not only shaped me but has also fortified my commitment to making a difference, to being a better human, and to continuing my pursuit of excellence in every aspect of life.

As we all navigate our unique journeys, we must remember that each one of us may be fighting unseen battles, striving towards personal goals, or overcoming individual challenges. As I share my story, I extend my heartfelt wishes to everyone on their paths, hoping this year brings you strength, fulfilment, and joy. In our endeavours, let us act with the consciousness that our choices and actions impact those around us. May we strive to create a kinder, more understanding world and always act in the best interest of all. Here's to a year of meaningful progress, shared successes, and collective well-being. Happy 2024.


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