Monday, December 27, 2010

You Are a Philanthropist

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(Local orphan boys sitting in front of the Daraja sign)

Recently I have been reading about the push to get billionaires to donate half their fortune to charity led by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Most recently 17 billionaires have signed up, pledging to give at least half of their fortune to charity either during their lifetime or after their death.  I am extremely encouraged by this.  This is a necessary step in the right direction.

The fact that these people are Billionaires is great because it means a HUGE amount of money will be going to charity to help make this world a better place.  More important than the money however is the mindset.  Every person should be making sacrifices and giving back.  Not just billionaires.  The fact is, speaking practically, for those billionaires having  500 million dollars is not a lot different than having billion dollars.  Either way you have more money than you know what to do with.  Not much of a sacrifice…but its a step in the right direction.  Reminds me of both a Chris Rock quote and a passage from the bible (both of which you will find at the end of this rant).

A more important step I think is getting the average person thinking like this.  I don’t mean giving away half of what you have.  For most of us this isn’t practical at all, its hard enough making ends meet.  The goal is to changing our way of thinking.  We should all be doing our part to make this world a better place.  This could be choosing NOT to spend $300 on a handbag and instead donating the money to charity, taking the money you would be spending on a pair of jeans and sending a child to school, or just spending one day a month volunteering at a local soup kitchen.

I am willing to bet that if you are the type of person who is willing to read through this whole boring blog about philanthropy you are also the type who will feel your life enriched by empowering yourself to help others. 

Check out the Giving Pledge.

Donate to Daraja Academy

Or Help me with my project with the Nanyuki Street boys.


If Bill Gates woke up one day with Oprah money he would jump out a ****ing window”

-Chris Rock

The Widow’s Offering
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

Mark 12:41-44 (New International Version, ©2010)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Joseph Geoffrey

I met Joseph at the beginning of my first trip to Kenya.  He was one of the street boys on the main street of Nanyuki. 

He is notable, because at 18 he is a little bit older than most of the other boys.   He has also abstained from glue use which is no small feat for a street boy of his age.

Joseph has been out of school for a really long time and the idea of him going back was quickly ruled out as an option  because of his age and lack of academic interest.

Joseph does have some marketable skills however.  His father was a shoe repairman and before he died he taught Joseph how to repair shoes.   The death of his father left him with nothing but a large family to support. He immediately took to the street begging for money and food everyday. 

Upon becoming close with his group of friends I was made aware that he had the skills to polish and repair shoes, he only lacked the equipment.

After consulting with social workers and verifying his claim I gave him a small loan (he never actually touched the money but I got him the equipment) to start up his shoe repair business.  A loan which he is slowly repaying.

Four months later (after I returned to Kenya) I had a chance to go by his stand and found him busy repairing shoes.  He is not going to make a lot of money doing this, but he earns enough to support himself and contribute to the well being of his family.  He has gone from standing on the street everyday asking for handouts, to supporting himself.

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(Joseph at his post)

The difference in his appearance was noticeable.  He has gained confidence and as he explained “I am working hard everyday”.

He has ambitious plans to build an awning over his bench so he can continue working even when it rains.  I am proud to know him.