Posts Tagged ‘Kenya’

Chicago Pastor to Run Five Marathons a Week for Five Months

 Quits Job to Help Kids in Africa Get Clean Water with international Christian Relief Group World Vision 

IMG_0666

49 year-old Steve Spear is training for the run of his life. The Chicago-area pastor recently quit his job as a Willow Creek pastor after 15 years, to focus on raising $1.5 million to provide clean water for 30,000 people living in Kenya. Spear, who only took up long-distance running five years ago, has completed numerous marathons and ultra-marathons but none like this. He plans to start a coast-to-coast run on April 8th, 2013 in Southern California, and finish five months later in New York City. Steve Spear says his former senior pastor at Willow Creek Church, Bill Hybels plans to run with Steve on the final leg of the cross-country odyssey into New York in August.

 

 

 

M2Last year, Spear traveled to Kenya to see how World Vision’s water projects are literally saving lives.

Right now, Spear is now training extensively in Chicago, building his tolerance. He’s also fundraising. Currently he’s raised more than $75,000, some checks coming in as large as $10,000 but the majority come in $10 and under. Once the run begins, he’ll petition churches along the way for funds. Steve Spear says, “I’ve never done anything like this before in my life.”

For donations: www.teamworldvision.org/runningforwater

Twitter: @stevespear30

Rare Feat: Since 1909 when it was first attempted, only 260 people have tried to cross the continental United States, from coast to coast on foot. How rare is that? Imagine The Empire State Building. Now take a grain of sand and lay it at the base of the New York City landmark. Now lay another grain on top of that. Eventually, you’ll have enough of them stacked up to equal the height to that skyscraper. Now take one grain away. Notice how small it is. That’s how rare it is for someone to succeed at what Steve Spears is trying to do. He plans to average more than 170 miles a week or a marathon a day for five months.

January training schedule: Steve runs Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays taking Thursdays and Sundays off.

Important Dates: January 14th, 2013 (next training sequence) April 8th, 2013 (start date)

Multi-media content: http://www.kcchronicle.com/2012/12/19/st-charles-resident-to-run-across-america-to-raise-money-for-clean-water-in-africa/ab0t8zj/

Extra Notes:

• Spear will run 3200 miles, averaging a marathon a day for 5 months

• Spear will consume 6100 calories/day & go through 10 pairs of running shoes

• 900 million people lack access to safe water

• 6000 children die each day from diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe water

Advertisements

A powerful story told by a gifted writer, National Public Radio’s John Burnett.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/12/12/167120895/from-a-life-of-crime-to-designing-jewelry-all-in-a-nairobi-slum

Life is cheap where hope is scarce. And here in Nairobi’s Huruma slum you have to look hard to find any hope. So much is discarded here; bottles, cans, tires, plastic but mostly people.

John Kangara Mucheru
Project Manager Zakale Creations

42 year-old John Kangara Mucheru knows this. He’s lived in Huruma all his life. But Mucheru looks for use in everything. The word Zakale means “re-use” in Swahili, the cultural language of Kenya. And that’s exactly what he’s done with bottles, cans, tires, plastic but mostly people.

People like 28 year-old Milton Obote. Ten years ago, Milton was playing pick-up soccer, smoking marijuana and burglarizing homes. Until he met John Mucheru. While watching a Humura pick-up soccer game Milton and his friends were playing, Mucheru noticed the artistry with which Milton played the game. “Futbol (soccer) is what I eat”, says Obote. But John Mucheru didn’t like the company Obote kept. He saw something special in the teenager that everyone else had overlooked. If they even looked at all.

Milton Obote – Zakale Creations

The two started talking. John challenged Milton to do something with that artistic side. He gave the teen a piece of wire and asked him to “design something.” Obote brought back a beautifully created hand. Soon, John invited Milton to work for him at Zakale Creations, based right here in Huruma. He knew Milton and didn’t like to see boys like him waste their lives. Perhaps he saw a little bit of himself.

John used to be involved in gangs, petty theft, some robbery. “It wasn’t my wish”, says Mechuro. “I had no alternative.” In a place like Huruma you do anything to survive. Something happens to a person when you’re packed into a place of extreme poverty with 60,000 others. The word Huruma in Swahili (one of Kenya’s official languages) means, sympathy. Some who live here think Huruma is just another word for “madhouse”.

Huruma, Nairobi

Mucheru doesn’t remember anything good about Christmas as a child. No fond memories. “I never got a Christmas present. I was orphaned when both my parents died when I was three.” Today, John Mucheru is turning that around. Today, the ornaments his young men and women at Zakale Creations make are sold to a company called Heavenly Treasures. That company in turn, sells them to World Vision where they are offered in the charity’s Gift Catalog.

Ornament Set
World Vision Gift Catalog

Now each Christmas, John Kangara Mucheru throws a big party for hundreds of his neighbors in Huruma. “Christmas is time for sharing what you have with those who have nothing,” says Mucheru. His young men and women welcome visitors with a ceremonial dance.

They are energetic, happy and appear full of hope. And today, Milton Obote is married with a young daughter and hopeful he can land more design work.

“Zakale Creations,” Mucheru says, “is about creating new life.” What better time of year to find that new life in the discarded bottles, can, tires, plastic but mostly people. Here in the maddening heart of despair, John Mucheru has found a way to deliver a tiny piece of hope.

Zakale Creations employees welcome visitors in song and dance

Zakale Creations employees
welcome visitors in song and dance

http://www.heavenlytreasures.org/contentpages.aspx?parentnavigationid=2619&viewcontentpageguid=53959e0e-fe70-431b-97b0-2c5e6bd92982

Update to 9/27 post.Microsoft’s Margo Day selected as Geek Wire’s Geek of the Week

http://www.geekwire.com/2012/geek-week-microsoft-education-exec-margo-day-impact-kenya/

If you could take a year off of work how would you change the world?

Margo Day

Margo Day just spent the last year of her life answering that question. The Microsoft VP used a year-long sabbatical that just ended to empower 17,000 girls in rural Kenya to stay in school and avoid the all-too-common cultural practice of early marriage.

Early and or forced marriage and female genital mutilation are still widely practiced in rural Kenya. However, Day is helping to turn the tide. The World Vision Kenya Child Protection and Education Program is focused on accelerating that change.

Access to education is fundamental.

Day took a whole year off work as a high-powered tech VP in order to slow down and help girls living in extreme poverty in a remote region of rural Kenya. She’s just returned from another trip to Africa, her fourth.

Margo Day’s Tips: How to Make a Difference

1. Work with an experienced organization with sustainability at its core.

2. Concentrate your efforts on just one thing.

3. Show others what you’re doing. They want to have that same kind of impact that you have.

4. Listen to God because he’ll tell you when what you have is enough.

The total project budget for the Kenya Child Protection Program is $4.8 million. To date, Day has contributed $150,000 towards the first project, St. Elizabeth Girls Secondary School, which had a total budget of half a million dollars. In addition, she’s now made a commitment to give another $500,000 over the next 3 years towards the Kenya Child Protection and Education Program, for a total of $650,000.

http://en.gravatar.com/margoday

Margo is partnering with World Vision to address issues related to girls’ education and child protection, recently completing construction of the St. Elizabeth’s Secondary School for Girls in West Pokot, Kenya.

Sook Integrated Program Area:  Education improvements from 2009 to today:  Margo Day says a lot has been accomplished to form a good foundation for the work now of the Kenya Child Protection and Education Program.  Here are some education statistics from 2009 to today:

  •       17.6% increase in child enrollment in school.
  •       Number of Early Childhood Development centers:  from 39 to 53
  •       Number of Primary Schools:  from 34 to 49
  •       Academic performance increase in primary schools:   9% increase

She’s been honored for her work on behalf of women at Microsoft, earning its 2006 Most Inspirational Woman award. She lives in the Seattle, area and loves being outdoors. She enjoys backpacking, boating, cycling, scuba diving, skiing, golf, adventure travel and, when it’s rainy outside, attending concerts and theater in addition to enjoying a great glass of wine.

Important Dates:  October 11th – International Day of the Girl

 

Worldwide Webcast: Approaching the StoryWebcast event to be held Thursday, September 20 from 1-2 p.m. PDT.Link to: http://n50.onetotheworld.net/health12Prepare yourself for a unique journey into the art of storytelling. World Vision presents a one hour worldwide webcast taking you behind-the-scenes of a magazine assignment in drought-stricken northern Kenya.

Join journalist Kari Costanza and photographer Jon Warren, who between them, have worked in over 70 countries. They’ll discuss how to put yourself in the right place at the right time to capture the narrative and images of a compelling story that honors the people who are its subjects. What makes a good photograph? How do you get someone to open up about themselves? The program will be live and interactive. Questions welcome 

Lazaro

What’s the health of a six-year-old child worth? How much would I be willing to pay?

Recently, I got a chance to meet 6 year-old Lazaro, who lives with his five brothers and sisters on a hilltop on the edge of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley in Central Kenya. I don’t know much about him other than that he herds goats for his family, that he likes games with a ball and that he is very, very, very shy.

But behind his shyness is a wisdom and a sadness I saw in his eyes that belies his age. What has he seen in those six years? How many nights did he go to bed without enough to eat? According to the latest UN statistics, more than 850 million people go to bed hungry each night. Has Lazaro been one of them? I’m eager to know more about him but what am I willing to give up to make sure he has access to the most basic of life’s needs: food security, basic nutrition, education and access to clean water?

It Doesn’t Take Much to Make a Difference

Is Lazaro’s life worth a tall latte?

As a “Re-Purposed Journalist” I came to rely on that mid-morning, double-tall, non-fat latte every day of the week. It gave me the kick I needed. My local Starbucks charges $3.24 (tax included) for 8 ounces of ground espresso and steamed milk. A tall latte is something most of us in Seattle take for granted. You buy one a day it’ll run you $842.40 a year. However, if you cut your habit down to just two a week, you’ll save more than enough to sponsor a child like Lazaro for one year.

So that’s what I’ve decided to do.

I want my creature comforts as much as the next guy but when I think about how a little sacrifice makes a big difference. Well, that’s something I can swallow.

Lazaro lives on a hilltop. The view is breathtaking. 

The Great Rift Valley
Kenya

I live in Seattle where a view like this would cost you millions. But Lazaro and his family look at the Great Rift Valley from a thatched hut with mud floors. So maybe here is a good place to help, and maybe find out just how much one child’s life is worth.

Two tall lattes a week? Sure.

http://www.worldvision.org/

Kari Costanza
On Assignment – Kenya

Kari Costanza’s Tips for the Re-purposed Journalist

1. It’s not about you.

2. Don’t do it if you don’t truly like people

3. Be prepared for a joy and a pain that you could never imagine when you were studying to become a journalist in school.

After graduating from the University of Washington, Kari held a job as news producer at KIRO 7 TV and at several stations on the East Coast. As a producer, Costanza says, “I shaped and wrote much of the newscast. I worked with anchors, reporters, photographers and production staff to condense the news of the day into a 30 minute broadcast.”

Costanza met that daily deadline for ten years. Then one day she remembers a KIRO 7 TV colleague, Tony Ventrella walking by her newsroom desk and whispering, “You’re not happy. You need to make a change.”  The words haunted her because they rang true.

It was spring, 1995.

Then her mother cut out a news article in her hometown paper, the  Tacoma News Tribune about how a Christian non-profit called World Vision was moving from Southern California to Federal Way. In June she was hired.

She has never looked back.

In the first five years after joining the World Vision video department, Kari produced 300 videos. She became Managing Editor of World Vision Magazine in 2000. In 2010, World Vision International asked her to be Global Editor. Today, Kari Costanza is Editor of Special Projects and Content Curation. In 17 years with World Vision, Kari Costanza has been to 40 countries.

Kari Costanza 
in Turkana, Kenya

“The hardest part is when you care about people and they die, ” says Costanza. “We did this story in Rwanda in August. We’d heard that 10 people had died in a refugee camp.”  As always, Costanza wanted to personalize the story. At a hospital near the camp, she met a woman named Solange who had lost a daughter since moving to the camp from the Congo. She and NPPA Photographer of the Year Lisa Berglund produced a video of Solange and her baby, Esther when they came back from Africa. “But then, after we left Rwanda, we found out that Esther died. We mourned. I just went into my cubicle and cried,” says Costanza.

“That doesn’t happen in TV news.”

On Thursday, September 20th, at 1pm (Pacific) Kari will join World Vision award-winning photographer Jon Warren for a presentation at Seattle Center as part of the Center’s “The Next Fifty” Celebration called “Approaching The Story.”

Links:

For the Solange story:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iciR3jGCiaA

For the One to the World Digital Classroom: http://n50.onetotheworld.net/health12#

This is what a humanitarian looks like.

Lopez Lomong (right) Rob Rogers (left)

 

This Saturday, December 1st,  former Lost Boy and U.S. Olympian Lopez Lomong will be awarded the Visa Humanitarian of the Year Award in Daytona Beach, Florida.

The last time I saw Lopez was a few weeks ago in Auburn, Washington when he spoke to more than a thousand in attendance at World Vision’s Day of Prayer. Lopez was recounting all that had happened this year. I remember one night in particular, the night before the biggest race of his life. And he was smiling.

The race was the men’s 5,000 meters on Saturday at the Summer Games in London. He was surrounded by some of the most important people in the world to him, his girlfriend, Brittany Morreale and his mother and father, Barbara and Rob Rogers from Upstate New York. Barbara kept quietly repeating, “I’m so proud of him.”

In 2001, she and Rob brought Lopez over to America from a refugee camp in Kenya. At the age of six, Lopez was abducted by Sudanese rebels and taken to a holding facility where he was prepped as a child soldier. It was determined he was too small. Chances were that he would have been left to starve to death but three fellow captives, his “angels” as he describes them, helped him escape. After three days and nights Lopez was captured by Kenyan soldiers taken to that refugee camp where he lived for ten years, until the Rogers adopted him.

Soon they discovered he was the fastest kid in school, then the state and one of the fastest in the nation. He qualified for the US track and field team in 2008 and was the flag bearer for the Beijing Summer Games. Four years later, Lopez Lomong is at his second Olympics. Rob Rogers says in 2008, “It was like a dream.” But this time his dad says, “he’s here to win a gold medal.”

Michael Chitwood (Team World Vision) on left

That’s what his family and Team World Vision friends including Josh Cox prayed for.

Josh Cox (left) Michael Chitwood Team World Vision (right)

Cox is a long-distance runner, the American record-holder in the 50K and a four time U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier. Team World Vision is a fundraising program of international Christian charity World Vision that equips individuals to raise money for World Vision projects. Lomong’s 4South Sudan is a World Vision partner committed to finding clean water, health care, education and nutrition for kids back home in South Sudan.

http://lopezlomong.com/foundation/

me (on left) with Lopez

I was in London with Cox, Team World Vision National Director Michael Chitwood and Team World Vision’s Steve Spear. We were all there to cheer Lopez on. The next night he ended up finishing tenth in the race after leading as he headed into the last lap. A disappointing finish but not a demoralizing one. “I’ll be back,” he told me after the race. “I learned a lot this time around. I’ll be back.”

I thought about that response when I heard that Lomong had been honored as Visa’s 2012 Humanitarian of the Year. And I thought about the commitment Lomong has made to helping children back home and here in the States through his work with Team World Vision.

Something tells me he will be back. But then – something tells me he’s never left.

Thursday, December 6th, Lomong will travel to the Bay Area where he’ll run with at-risk youth in Oakland. That weekend, he’ll run in a half-marathon in Walnut Creek, California for Team World Vision.

Lomong’s new book is called “Running For My Life” (Thomas Nelson Publishing)