By Melanie Robitaille, Sr. Staff Writer

Imagine growing up in an unforgiving, barren place where money, clean water and food are scarce, and you live in constant fear of the violence raging all around you. Most of us would have a hard time because we’ve lived a #firstworldproblems life.

The name Maggie Tessier is renowned in the EXIT nation; synonymous with million-dollar production, esteemed speaking and training engagements, three thriving offices and an award-winning real estate team. But for many years, only those closest to her have known her humble secret that she has walked in both worlds and has given the gift of opportunity to two young men she met along the way.

“I believe we have a responsibility to give back, each person to the measure to which we have been blessed, offering the fruits of our wealth, the labor of our hands, or behind closed doors speaking words of encouragement and wisdom to those who seek it. Everyone can make a difference in someone’s life,” Maggie explained.

In 2011, amidst her top-producing career, she learned of a group called Remote Area Medical Volunteers Canada (RAMV) through Regional Owner, A.J. Plant, who was managing her EXIT Realty Matrix Brokerage office at the time. His wife, Dr. Chantal Plant, was one half of a dental duo who formed part of a medical team en route to aid those in developing countries. Maggie and her husband, Guy, signed on as support staff and were headed to Narok County, Kenya.

“We were a group of doctors, dentists, an optometrist, a dental hygienist, a nurse, support staff, a team leader, translators, cooks, drivers and laborers,” she recalled. “My husband and I were working with the dental group. I was the gofer doing tasks for the dentists, getting the clinic ready, disinfecting utensils and doing clean up. It was actually quite a humbling experience as usually I’m in control and in charge, and now I was the lowest person on the totem pole working, quite literally, in the bloody thick of it.”

It was during her two-and-a-half-week experience that she met Bernard, 18, who was one of the translators on the team, and Victor, 21, who worked as a laborer. She immediately struck a bond with Bernard, who was raised by a single mom and had a few siblings. Victor, on the other hand, was quiet and much more reserved.

“When I was in Kenya, I felt a real void in my heart because the needs were great,” she said. “They had absolutely no money to go to school, so I decided to send both to college and pay their tuition and living expenses for their school years. I didn’t talk much about what I was doing, but of the little my family knew, they were 100% supportive.”

Knowing her new friend Bernard’s dream of going to college, Maggie established communication with him immediately after returning to Canada. Her bond with Victor grew over time, and soon they both came to refer to her affectionately as “Mummy” out of respect for her as their benefactor.

The three stayed in touch via Facebook Messenger, and it was through Bernard’s recent post on that very platform where Maggie’s kindness was finally shared with the world. Not only did Bernard complete college with a diploma in business management, he is also a professional manager today.

An excerpt from his post, which features images of his college commencement and post-graduation celebration, reads, “When I met you you brought a magical touch, a turn around in my life; the life of this young man from Kenya, living in the very little, dusty town of Narok in a village called Naisoya. You collected me from the scrap, you molded my future, ensuring that I got the best out of your sweat. I know it’s not that you were rich, nor that you didn’t have needs to meet {of your own}, but you sacrificed that little you had so that I could have my basics, too. You stood out and built a strong foundation in my life.”

Maggie was humbled and extremely moved by Bernard’s very personal accolades, saying, “I was quite touched by the way Bernard honored me on Facebook. It was something that I did in private, not expecting anyone to find out.”

A true EXIT original, Maggie has worked hard over her 22 years with EXIT to become a Canadian franchisee powerhouse, helping to build the brand in its beginnings and earning many awards, including Broker of the Year for Canada in 2018. She is working toward getting back to Kenya in the next few years to see, first-hand, the difference that each gentleman has made in their community. Because for Maggie, that’s what it was all about.

“Being a business owner opens doors to opportunities. I felt if I was going to make a difference in that town it couldn’t end with my visit. I knew I could be part of the bigger picture, and a good way to start would be through education. There was a catch to my helping them, to which the boys agreed,” she recalled. “They would have to pay it forward. I told them I wanted them to make me proud and make a difference in their communities. My goal is to bring a few of my grandchildren back to Kenya with me in four to five years, when they’re the right age. I really do want to go back to see Bernard and Victor, as I left a piece of my heart with them.”

 

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