Posts with Category Where Am I Giving?

An opportunity to give: The Slum Library

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Douglas is a taxi driver who lives in the Mathare Valley slum where most kids grow up without books in their homes. So he decided to turn his home into a library. At first, he wasn’t sure how he would fill it with books, but they just started showing up courtesy of his neighbors. Now the library has 3,000 books. He covers 50% of the monthly costs himself and the other 50% comes from community members. Members don’t pay anything but each of them brings in newspapers to sell to the recycling center. No matter where you live in the world or what you do, you can make a big impact.

When I first posted about the library on Instagram and Facebook many folks said they…

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Someone lives in the middle of nowhere

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By road from Mbeya, Tanzania, to Mbala, Zambia

Bags of charcoal as high as a 10-year old are stacked on the side of the road. Someone put them there.

A woman with a child strapped to her back, as is the fashion accessory for most women during their child rearing years, is walking over a barren ridge before stopping to wave.

A little boy sits on an empty feedbag pulled on the ground by an older boy. Dust plumes swirl in their wake.

Houses on the side of the road are made from locally-sourced mud and branch and grass. In Kenya, I met a man who lived in such a house. He called it a “temporary house.”  Temporary house, but he wanted the property to…

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What being a (privileged) minority abroad has taught me about race

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Could I be any more of a mzungu?

“Mzungu! Mzungu! How are you?” The Kenyan kids holler. Or they just stare.

Other kids yell, “Chinese!” Yes, that’s right, they mistake blond-haired, blue-eyed me as a Chinese person. This has also happened to me in Central America several times, which speaks to China’s expanding reach and influence.

This week a new friend told me that I was the first white person he’d ever had a conversation with.

I’ve spent 60 of the last 90 days traveling in Myanmar, Cambodia, India, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia and years of my traveling life as a minority. Not only am I majorly a minority in many of the places I travel, I’m a novelty. Sometimes I…

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Burning tires are the voice of the unheard

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They felt like their vote didn’t matter.

Their leader said the election was rigged.

Maybe it was. So they grabbed a tire threw it into the middle of the road and lit it. Many had no agenda, but others thought it would bring the attention of their leaders.

But their burning tire, their noxious scream, was one of hundreds if not thousands. Even the media, perhaps afraid of escalating violence, barely covered the protests to Kenya’s 2017 presidential election.

In Kenya, as it is everywhere, democracy is a story in which the people must believe if it’s to work.

A few anecdotes of why folks I’ve met in Kenya doubt the story:

Voters are paid for their vote.

This doesn’t happen everywhere, but people can list the counties where…

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Election Day in Kenya

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(My friends James and Thomas)

“Hello, whiteman,” the bush said.

I looked around, but couldn’t see anyone. I wondered if this was how Moses felt?

I thought I must’ve been hearing things, so I kept walking toward the fancy café in Nairobi’s Westlands area. It was closed. Everything was closed today.

It’s election day in Kenya.

Christmas or apocalypse?

When I left my hotel the guard—a woman in a black suit with a red tie— had asked me where I was going. I’ve gotten to know her a bit over the few days I’ve been in Nairobi. Yesterday when I was wearing a short-sleeved shirt, she nearly insisted that I go back to my room and get my sweatshirt.

I had told her I was walking…

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The hope of America in India

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When you grow up in a slum in India, it can be hard to imagine a world beyond the high rises where your family members work as staff for wealthy families.

I sat in the back of the sauna-hot room and watched young leaders of the OSCAR Foundation, a program that uses soccer as a vehicle to get kids into school and consider a life and world beyond their community, as they listened to an Indian soccer player who played for a U.S. college.

Suddenly the world must’ve looked a little larger to them, opportunities a bit more possible.

Kean Lewis played at Farleigh Dickinson and got an education in sports management. Now he plays for a team in India and in the off-season works…

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What if mentoring doesn’t work?

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The greatest gift you have to give to another is your time.

I believe that. That feels right. But what if it isn’t? What if you volunteered as a mentor and in the long run it was harmful to your mentee?

For years I volunteered as a big brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS). My little was 10, now he’s 19. (I think! He’ll probably read this and correct me. He’s like that.) The BBBS model of recruiting Bigs and selectively matching them with Littles and offering them match support is proven.

(From the Washington Post)

The prototype for all this – and the model from which [Wellesely College economist Philip] Levine suggests building –…

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