Margaret Opio is the founder and executive director of Blue Balloon foundation. Born in Uganda in 1958, Margaret grew up observing the effects of interpersonal conflict and subsequently war on the behaviour of her compatriots. It left her with many questions that she has since dedicated her life to resolving.
Margaret's mother died when she was only eight months old, leaving her in the care of her father, a church minister and a man of great vision and hope. With war all around her Margaret struggled to understand what made people hate each other so much, when she felt nothing but love from her own father and family. There seemed to be a huge disconnection for her between the different behaviours that she observed in her fellow men: on the one hand unconditional and abiding love, and unspeakable cruelty and hatred on the other. How could people be capable of such extremes of behaviour?
In 1985, at the age of 26, Margaret was driven to flee her country with her husband and three very young sons. By this time she was a qualified lawyer, working as a State Attorney in the criminal section of the Department of Public Prosecution, Ministry of Justice in Kampala. Her brother was a lieutenant-colonel in the Ugandan army, and therefore targeted by rebel troops. Margaret managed to escape from her home within minutes of the arrival of the rebel soldiers, who were looking for her brother and his relatives. Frustrated in their search they shot down the family photographs on the wall of Margaret's apartment. Meanwhile, Margaret was on her way to neighbouring Kenya.
Margaret spent 5 years working in Kenya, teaching 'O' and 'A' level classes, and lecturing in Business and Company Law at a Teacher Training College. In 1990 she moved to London with her husband and young family and began work as a legal representative with the Refugee Legal Centre in 1992. She concurrently continued with further studies and in 1994 graduated as a Chartered Secretary at The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators.
Margaret remained haunted by the same questions about how people could be motivated to such extremes of behaviour as she had witnessed in her own country. She consciously began her quest for answers in May 2002, when, whilst facilitating a training workshop, she heard a keynote speaker talk about mindsets. At that moment she realised how destructive the human mind can be when it loses perspective, and gets trapped in conditioned learning and intransigent patterns of thought. She saw very clearly that this is what was tearing apart her own tribe and home country, as well as the fabric of the individual, family and society globally.
Margaret was struck by the realisation that as children we are not born with negative and sometimes destructive or counterproductive attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that we can display in later life. She proceeded to create Blue Balloon Foundation (BBf); and in November 2002 she took sabbatical leave from her legal job in order to focus on acquiring the necessary information, resources, skills and experience that would enable the tackling of the root causes of mindsets and conditioned feelings of insecurity. Margaret conducted her research widely in the U.K, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Canada and USA; which added to the information, skills and experience she had acquired in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania; as well as her experience as a parent under different sets of circumstances.
Blue Balloon Foundation is the next step in Margaret's incredible journey. It is dedicated to helping humanity raise our level of consciousness and recognise and celebrate our natural capacities for health, creativity, connection, compassion, common-sense and peace.
To deepen her understanding, Margaret wanted grass-root, community experience. Since July 2007, Margaret has been sparing some time to work as a carer in the community; caring for the elderly and the sick. Margaret has found this experience to be not just a great eye opener, but humbling, enormously fulfilling, and has enhanced her sense of value and priorities.