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FB Friends, Part 3: Ola Zuri talks about her “Believe In Me” project

Picking up where we left off with Christina Seong and Miriam Gaenicke, I give you my conversation with Canadian Ola Zuri.  I’ve never met Ola, but, man, she’s motivated!  Love it!

Enjoy.
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Land of Gazillion Adoptees: You’re Canadian!  Have you always been?  What can Americans learn from Canadians?

Ola: I am Canadian.  I was born in Montreal, Quebec with my twin sister in a time when having children out-of-wedlock was never considered a positive thing for a woman.  I was born and then placed into foster care a couple of days later, to be joined by my sister after she gained weight from being the small one of the two of us.  I was a surprise birth as the twin pregnancy was not previously diagnosed and I arrived one hour and fifteen minutes later than my preemie twin sister.

My sister and I were adopted together at the age of two by a white couple in Montreal and then moved to a very redneck part of Canada, Alberta where it was rather difficult growing up there.  I suggest reading my story in the newly published adoption anthology Somebody’s Child.

Americans can learn to look at the race factor a little more closely than it is still being looked at in this day and age.  There are too many times in the media that race is not addressed in a way that all people of color feel justified as being the race they are.  For example, the daily soap operas, commercials, and a variety of magazine ads still have same race relationship story lines as opposed to interracial couples and families.  Something that people tend to forget or try not to think about is the race amongst the communities and how it is growing more and more each day.

LGA: What a start to life you had, and those are some very interesting insights…  Moving on.  Would you mind talking about your books/Believe In Me program?

Ola: I am always happy to talk about this program.  It was created by using books and literature and is called Believe In Me.  The overall purpose of the program is to provide positive literature to encourage and empower all children to believe in themselves with determination and faith, while discovering and using perseverance for success and overcoming obstacles in life.

Believe In Me gives parents the support needed to raise confidence levels in their children.  It provides resources for the educators, support workers and community members, while helping children develop to their best level as individuals.  This program creates ways for all children, in every country, to build a positive self-esteem from within.  Why Can’t You Look Like MeWhere Do I Belong, and What Is A Part Of Me are the first three of six titles in the program.  These books open children up to dealing with their feelings when they are unsure of how to feel.  They offer a distinctly broader view of dealing with situations children may experience on their level.  Next, the books emphasize how to actively teach and encourage children to believe in what is inside and not on what others may say or want for them.

As a child, I was always looking, always searching for something that could touch on an issue of what it was I was going through and how to feel better about it.  With the literature from the Believe In Me program, that resource is now available, allowing children and families, educators, support workers and others to start the conversations to help build the strength needed within.  The variety of subjects in the series include family, belonging, fitting in, identity, adoption, foster care, and, most importantly, is building a positive self-esteem and a positive self-confidence within children.  When these qualities are enriched, it often enhances other skills needed in everyday life.

Believe In Me has a very important goal: to aid with the healing process for the next generation.  I believe that the more support a child has in healing self, then the better chance the child has of finding true self!

LGA: What future projects do you have in the works?

Ola: I have another book circulating the store shelves currently and it is titled Somebody’s Child.  It is an adoption anthology that was released in September of this year.  I was very fortunate to have won a spot as a contributing author for this book and I am definitely enjoying the promotion of it at the same time as the children’s books.  The book details many lives touched by adoption, and, even if my story was not included, I would highly recommend it as a good read for families, social workers, and anyone whose life may be touched by adoption in some way.

As far as future projects, I do have a few things I am working on besides the remaining three titles in the series of books. The book series is currently being translated into Spanish, and I look forward to making them available to the so many who speak Spanish; I want to provide children with these inspirational books.   I have been invited to many places across the USA, Canada, Australia, Kuwait, and even South Africa!  I look forward to being able to present my books to as many people in as many places as I am able because there are children all over the world growing up without the key strength of self-esteem!  Currently, I am in contact with a few people and do not want to give away anything about what until I am sure things are going to proceed accordingly with the project ideas.  All I can say is that there are going to be a lot of happy people who will really enjoy what I have to offer in the near future!  For now, I will continue working with my fabulous illustrator on the last few books in this series and get them out for all to add to their collections!

LGA: Fantastic!  And to you, dear reader, I encourage you to check out Ola’s website for more information.

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