Submitted by Guest on Thu, 2012-07-12 14:42
There are so many stories to tell – it’s hard to pick one. I keep coming back more to a concept than a story. In my world, I use the words – sustainability, purpose, and impact. I use them in this intangible realm and thought that I had really understood the denotations. I was wrong. In Kenya, I learned the word sustainability was not only real, life changing but also an action; it goes beyond being a noun. To me it’s building a legacy. As a kid, I used to see this TV commercial with Sally Struthers on it. She was already quite old by then. She would walk around villages and showed these kids standing around with no parents. They looked so sad and lonely. “For only 52 cents a day, you could feed this child,” she would tell you. If you gave up your cup of coffee, this child in her arms could eat. Even as a kid, it made my heart hurt for this place. I didn’t drink coffee yet and wasn’t sure why coffee was the root of evils when people were starving! It was hard to understand. Fast forward to June of 2012, now a coffee-drinking adult, I came to CTC. I was told that the organization went beyond freebies and handouts. One of its goals was to teach people how to be self-sustaining-a verb, an action. It was more important to educate, it was critical to teach about the environment and it was life saving to help change attitudes toward safe sex and family values. In my opinion, a much better gift to humanity than 52 cents a day.
Donations, time and support are still needed for CTC but the difference of your donation today and what it looked like in 1978 is that now you make an actual impact. You ensure change to a family and the generations to come. You actually purchase hope for a mom with a disabled child. By buying a product, your money actually serves a purpose no matter what continent you live on.
What changed me? It was the beauty of Kenya. It’s the landscape of hills and the landscape of smiles - the people, the grit, the hard work and of course, CTC. One day we were stuck in the van for hours going from one location to the other. At first it seemed like a daunting journey to be driving for a whole day. It turned out to be one of my favorite memories. We called it, “the greatest hello we ever received. ” As we drove to our next destination, we would waive and yell out, “Habari,” to the students walking home from school. The response was as bright as lightning in the sky. We couldn’t wait to see another child walking along the road. The light on the faces of the kids was like a gift from heaven! I remember feeling as if they knew me. The frantic wave back and smile from ear to ear was so genuine, so personal and strangely authentic. We decided (all ten of us), to say hi to anyone who looked up.
You wouldn’t believe the reciprocation. We couldn’t stop ourselves and waved until our arms became heavy. We laughed about what that would look like in the states. I bet your smiling as you imagine a van full of people back home waving at strangers and nothing happening. Our driver told us that in Kenya, people feel valued when someone acknowledges them and says hello. Really, in Kenya? I would say that’s anywhere you go. A universal truth, but I had to go to Kenya to learn it. I’m so thankful to CTC and Whole Foods Market. The experience, delivered -it changed my life.
Someday I will walk up to this new bakery that I became a part of to buy a treat made from a Maai Mahu CTC team member. I will stand in the same place that I took shovel to grass and watched my friends dig deep into the ground. I smile when I think about the impact the bakery will make and my eyes fill up with tears when I think of the future generations that will be saved from handouts. I have made a personal promise to live with purpose. I have made a statement that my life will be of joy –not because of things or situations, but because joy is within you and it’s your choice. Some people think they go to places so far way to teach others a thing or two. In my case – I was their student.