You’ve heard plenty from me by now. Here’s a chance to hear about the trip from a different perspective. Below is an article that Eddie Jenkins wrote for his company newsletter:
So, Would you like to go to Africa? Most would say sure for a Safari or to sit in an endless pool and watch giraffes and elephants walk by with a glass of wine in their hand, but for some reason I said sure, I’ll go to Africa with you to help build a home for a family in need. So my story begins!
I consider myself a “well traveled” man, having been to Slovakia, Scotland, England, Ireland, Czech Republic, Romania and a few other places, but I’d never been to a third world country before and had no idea what I was about to encounter. Our goal as a team was to help build a house for a family of 9 in Kisii, Kenya. We just so happened to be the kick-off team and were responsible for digging the foundation, pouring footers, setting blocks, prepping floors and laying bricks for the walls. We did all of this using local tools and no common tools or machinery used by most of us today that set out for a task like this.
When I say it was physically tasking, I mean physically tasking, every day after work I would go back to my hotel, shower and nap to try and recover from my day! Everyday was a new experience, meeting new members of the tribe and family and learning their ways of accomplishing things. The kids from the tribe and other local tribes would stop by on a regular basis to get their pictures taken and watch us work away on what was seemingly an impossible project. When I first heard about 9 people from the US and the locals building a simple 30 X 30 brick house with 3 rooms, I thought to myself, “this is NO problem, we can do this in 10 days for sure”. Yeah RIGHT, we finished the foundation and completed about 5 layers of brick in 10 days and honestly according to the locals and HFH (Habitat for Humanity), that was a huge accomplishment, so we were very excited! Imagine building a home and having to dig 3 feet down with just hoe’s and shovels. Imagine having to cut 6 inch concrete blocks/bricks with a machete (large sword/knife). Imagine having to move water from a river ½ mile a way to mix your mortar and concrete, oh and moving that water with buckets and good ole sweat and tears. Imagine having to make your own gravel from large rocks by chipping away at it with sledge hammers and hammers and chisels (not our sledge hammers and chisels, but ones made from local trees and rocks).
So, you might say what were some of the things you learned on this trip. I learned so much on this trip, about myself, about Africa and about life, but the main things I learned are here.
- Work smarter NOT harder or faster! You want to last all day and all week and all month for that fact, so don’t burn yourself out swinging the sledge hammer like a madman, take your time, take breaks, let others help out! WORK SMARTER!
- It is possible to smile, laugh, be happy and care free even if you have nearly nothing! These kids wore the same clothes every day, no shoes, had no bicycles, xbox’s, tv’s, toys, shoot they didn’t even have a soccer ball, they were kicking around a plastic bag that was taped together when we arrived, but shockingly they were all so so happy! They laughed and played non stop! Life is good in Africa for them! I’m spoiled and most of us are spoiled, so my lesson was to be happy with the little things in life and make the best of ANY situation!
- The impact one person can make on another, a family, a tribe and even a country is so freaking amazing! One person (YOU) can make a difference. You have to want it, you have to feel it, you have to be passionate about it, but one person can make a difference. Myself and the others on my team left a lasting impression on the family, the tribe and the country. Not just by building a house, but showing that we care, sharing our thoughts and visions and most of all being ourselves and sharing our personalities and traits.
You might now be asking how did I ever get involved in this stuff. Well, I asked myself one day many years ago, what is my legacy going to be when I leave the earth and honestly I struggled with what my purpose was. I mean I knew I was a hard worker, entrepreneur, etc… but what did I want people to remember me for. At the same time things in my life really were going the right direction with a good job, good friends and just good things happening all around me and I decided to start giving back to the community that was giving so much to me! It hit me at this time, my legacy was going to be, I’m a GIVER! So, I started volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, Big Brother Big Sister, Animal Rescue Foundation(s) and a few other local organizations. I discovered quickly that my skill sets as an IT guy and an ex-carpenter could really help local organizations, so that’s what I gave.
Remember, your legacy is what you leave or pass down to those who follow you. It has to do with both your values and your valuables. The heirs of your legacy are not just children and family: it’s also society as a whole, the charities you support, and the people whose lives you touch. So, flash forward to about 6 months ago when Habitat for Humanity reached out to me to thank me for all the support I provide them and asked me if I was interested in helping with a Global Village project. I immediately said yes and never thought twice about my decision!
This isn’t for everyone; I get that, but please take some time and ask yourself, WHAT IS MY LEGACY GOING TO BE? I’m so happy to have been given this opportunity and honestly I can’t think of a better way to spend my 2 week vacation. Thank you to Acton and all the amazing people at Acton who have supported me during this trip and continue to support me in my role at Acton!