Linda Singh is the director of operations for Health and Public Service North America at Accenture. She manages a second career as a brigadier general in the Maryland Army National Guard. She also served in Afghanistan as Afghan Security Forces Operations Chief.
During her service in Afghanistan, Linda stood in the middle of a garbage-strewn lot, handing out clothes to children in a refugee camp. These kids, wanting such simple things to survive, reminded her of her grandmother bringing home hand-me-downs. She wore those hand-me-downs. And like the kids in the refugee camp, she was once homeless.
Linda slept on the porches of friends’ homes or in the back office of the pretzel stand where she worked. But she kept it together at school. She got good grades and played Varsity basketball. Eventually, the stress of working, going to school and having no home did her in. Her grades declined. She didn’t have enough money to take the SAT test. So she dropped out of high school. At 17, she joined the Army. She had to persuade her parents to sign the papers because she wasn’t yet 18. It was the best thing they ever did for her. It turned her life around.
So, as Linda stood on that filthy lot in Afghanistan, and watched the kids scrounge for handouts, she realized that most of them don’t have even the support she had at their age. At that moment, Linda decided she needed to speak the truth about her life and what it takes to be a leader.
Linda is glad that most of the people she speaks to haven’t seen what she’s seen. She’s also glad she can bring them leadership lessons from a different life where nothing is taken for granted.
You can help children like Linda.