by Mitch Anthony
When Marie Ens turned 66 years old, she was forced to accept mandatory retirement. Marie was not your typical worker. She was a missionary to Cambodia. Her organization had supported her efforts for over 40 years. Marie didn’t want to retire, but her organization didn’t give her a choice.
Marie and her husband, Norman, first came to Cambodia in the 1950s and immediately fell in love with the country and its people. They swiftly learned the language and attended to the many unmet needs around them until the Khmer Rouge forced out all religious organizations in 1975. At that point, Marie and Norman moved to Paris where they continued their work.
In 1991, while they were still in France, Norman died suddenly at age 57. Despite her loss, Marie stayed and continued their missionary work on her own. In 1994, the door was opened for her to return to Cambodia and re-establish the rganization’s efforts in Phnom Penh. Marie continued serving until 1999—when she got the “call” that would interrupt her calling. Marie was incredulous as the director reiterated the organization’s firm stance on retirement at age 66. Marie was distraught and felt despondent over the fate of the orphans, the AIDS patients and the “killing fields” widows she had left behind. Their tribulations and fates had no retirement date.
Marie returned to Canada and wondered what she would do next. Clearly, her organization was no longer in her corner. After a couple of years of imposed retirement, Marie gathered her four children and their spouses and told them that, at 69 years of age, she had decided to return to Cambodia, this time on her own terms. There would be no turning back this time.
Her family helped her form a foundation to support her efforts. She has now been back in Cambodia for a decade and has continued to expand the number of orphans, AIDS patients and “grannies” they take in and care for. This year, there were more than 400 orphans under her care, scores of AIDS patients and scores of widows left desolate from the killing field days.
As the children grew up, she realized they would need an education or risk returning to the life they were rescued from. Marie’s latest effort has been to establish two “House of Dreams,” where these orphans can get a college education that is paid for by sponsors and live in a dormitory while they study for their future. The following is the most recent list of the cities and efforts currently operating under Marie Ens’ leadership.
- Place of Rescue I (orphanage)
- Place of Rescue (AIDS centre)
- Granny Houses
- Care for babies and pregnant young women
- Home care for AIDS victims
- House of Dreams (girls/boys dormitories)
- Place of Rescue II (House of Mercy)
- House of Dreams II
- Place of Rescue III (orphanage)
Keep in mind that all of this has been accomplished in the past 10 years as Marie has migrated through her 70s. I don’t know if there is a septuagenarian “Who’s Who,” but if there is, this woman belongs in it. And as she prepares for her 80th birthday party—as if there isn’t enough to attend to—Marie is preparing to open Place of Rescue IV orphanage in Toul Krang this year.
Here’s the central point of this story: who can say at what age our usefulness is expired? If you can’t find a use-by date imprinted on your forehead, then no corporation or organization should have the right to tell you that your usefulness has passed. The new AGEnda for usefulness should be based on vision, passion, skill and experience—not age.
Mark Freedman at Encore.org has been espousing this point for years. As Mark so eloquently stated, “The world may be done with us, but we are not done with the world.” Amen, brother. It’s time for experience to start talking back regarding the inane policies that exclude people from their purposes, their usefulness and, yes, their callings strictly on the basis of what their date of birth happens to be.
Yeah, the times they are a-changin’, folks, but this time around it’s not the youth doing the changing. I guess it’s no small irony that as Bob Dylan continues touring incessantly in his 70s we would have a sea of change around maturity and its unfolding potential for good. Change is coming, and the new AGEnda will be part of that change.
Do you know someone who is making a difference and flying in the face of social convention in their so-called retirement years? Drop me a line and tell me their story. We need to get these stories out. These are the new heroes in our world—the RetireMentors for the next generation proving that experience has no expiration date.
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©2014 Mitch Anthony. This is an adaptation of a story that appeared in the January 2014 edition of Financial Advisor magazine.
© 2014 Mitch Anthony
Mitch Anthony is the founder and president of Advisor Insights Inc., the leading provider of financial life planning tools and programs.
For more than a decade, Mitch and his team have provided training and development for both individual advisors and major organizations throughout the world. Mitch personally consults with many of the largest and most-recognizable names in the financial services industry on both financial life planning and relationship development.
Mitch has been named one of the financial services industry’s top “Movers & Shakers” for his pioneering work, and is interviewed by the media on a regular basis. The Institute is partnering with both Texas Tech University and the University of Georgia to develop financial life planning programs for their undergraduate programs. Mitch is a popular keynote speaker, columnist for Financial Advisor magazine and Journal of Financial Planning, and host of the daily radio feature, The Daily Dose, heard on over 100 radio stations nationwide.
Mitch is also the author of many groundbreaking books for advisors and consumers, including perennial bestseller StorySelling for Financial Advisors, cited by “Financial Advisor” magazine as the number one “must-read” book for financial professionals. Mitch’s other books include From the Boiler Room to the Living Room, The New Retirementality, Your Clients for Life, Your Client’s Story, The Cash in the Hat, and The Bean is not Green. For information on these books and more resources, click here.