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I have a superpower

Unfortunately my superpower is summoning birds to swoop from the heavens and poop on my head.

All I have to do is say or think something after which it would be incredibly ironic if a bird pooped on my head.

For instance, today, I was crossing the Liffey River in Dublin looking up at a statue of a famous man.  Streaks of white poop ran down his metal forehead.  I thought to myself, “Boy, someday I hope I’m famous enough to be a statue that birds poop on.”

The sky parted.  A distance “ca-caw” could be heard on the Irish summer breeze and then BAM!  I was hit!  I instinctively ducked in case it was a squadron of bombers.  I put my hand to…

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Leaving Uganda but Uganda won't leave me

Tomorrow I leave Uganda for Ireland. It’s been a busy few days and I’m reminding of something that Jake at Nuru told me:

“These folks are way stronger than me. The things they’ve been through and overcome, I don’t think I could do it.”

I don’t know how they do it.

Meet Susan:
She is a single mother of 6 and is HIV+. She  received food from the clinic, but not since the financial crisis.Now her children eat one meal a day.


Meet Jacob:
Jacob was my main man in Uganda. He’s a college-grad who had a good job with an NGO supported by USAID. The contract was supposed to last for five years. Jacob got married and soon his wife Sarah was…

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The story of Nuru


Jake was a soldier.

Jake fought terrorists.

Jake had a moment that changed his life.

Jake delivered fish.

One morning, before surfing, Jake got a call from Stanford saying he had been accepted to their business school.

Jake had an idea.

Jake went to Africa.

Jake was struck by lightning. (That’s a good one.)

Jake grew corn.

Lots of corn.

Jake changed lives.

This is Jake’s story.

But the thing about Jake‘s story – the thing that Jake really doesn’t like about it – is that it gets in the way of the amazing thing that‘s taking place in Kuria, Kenya.

Josephat, a father and a farmer, went from living in a mud hut worrying about how he was going to feed his family, to a man who produced five years…

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$10 for (3) Tuesdays

In case you’ve been wondering about the $10 for Tuesday Project, I haven’t stopped. I’ve just been slacking posting about them. I’ve been on a whirlwind tour of Kenya, Ethiopia, and I just arrived in Uganda.

I’ve lived in the slums of Nairobi, visited soleRebels in Addis Ababa, checked in on NURU which has to be one of the coolest and most efficient new NGOs I’ve seen in awhile, and I ran with (and by with I mean an ever increasing distance behind) world champion Kenyans. The audio, photos, and chicken scratches in my moleskine are piling up.

So to catch up on my ten4tues, I thought I’d recap the past three Tuesdays below:

Tuesday #1: The Prophetess

Oh there’s so much to write here. In fact, one of the main…

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So You Think You Can Dance?: Ethiopian Edition

There is no better way to feel culturally superior than to go to a country, turn on the TV, and watch their music videos.

The guesthouse I’m at in Addis Ababa has two channels. One of them is usually featuring videos. The videos often show a wide range of folks from ultra-modern slick-haired BluBlocker-wearing studs to happy-go lucky, frolicking farm folk. They are either stepping off their motorcycle or herding goats when spontaneously bust into dance.

My first reaction is to make fun of this. My next is to think about MC Hammer, Kriss Kross, and the chicken dance.

Last night I went to the Ethiopian Cultural Restaurant for dinner. While I ate some great food, six dancers performed traditional dances from all over Ethiopia. It was amazing. They were…

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Faith in the poor

photo by Justin Ahrens of Rule29

photo by Justin Ahrens of Rule29

I covet your faith. I’m not sure if that breaks any of the commandments or not. It probably breaks several. Still, I do.

My time with Life in Abudance was awesome for several reasons. One of them is that I had a chance to be around people with such strong faith.

I’m surely surrounded by others with such faith, but there is a separation of church and day-to-day life. I appreciate the separation. I don’t want others telling me what I should believe and I don’t want others telling others what they should believe. Religion and politics are in the “don’t go there” category for me. Unless I know…

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The Mathare Slums

Taken by Justin Ahrens

Taken by Justin Ahrens

A billion people live in the slums of our world.

As one of the 5 billion that don’t, I think we have an obligation to at least know what life is like for the other 17% of humanity. So, I thought we would take a stroll together through the slums of Mathare.

Wait, you are going to wear those shoes? Are you sure? They look awfully white.

Man makes things in straight lines. The Mathera valley is anything but. The tin shacks, rickety antennas, rusting roofs, and winding paths are awkward an uneven, organic. Nature takes what’s given to it and makes what it can. People living in poverty do the same.


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"I live in the slums"

The people in the slums of Nairobi actually use the word “slum” to describe where they live. They say it casually like someone might say that they live on Main Street.

It’s a fact of their life. It is a kick in my gut.

The past two days, I’ve been in Nairobi helping film a documentary in the slums with Life in Abundance. There have been quite a few kicks in the gut. I thought I would share a few of them.

Rosa and I are both parents of a toddler. A few toddles and my toddler Harper can go from the safety of our toy-laden living room to the stairs or the kitty litter box. A few toddles of Rosa’s toddler and she can be out the door…

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