Carr Educational Foundation’s director Mark Lukach told me last month about an interesting current that is running itself through the WorldWideWeb: the “6 word autobiography.” It’s not as easy as it sounds. How would you crush your entire life into six words? Moments ago I asked my father, who is visiting campus for the first time, that same question. Mind you, little thought and less reflection went into his answer. At the same time, at 71 I hope to God I can say the same.
“I would not change a day” – Jack Doherty
As I have been typing up the following installment of the Daraja Academy blog, the question has returned to me several times – how would I explain my life? The way I viewed my relationship to the world and my place in it, in only six words?
Though not my six-word autobiography, I am going to preface what is left of this blog, with a realization that has been surging through me in larger and larger swells of emotion…
I honestly believe that I would rather be dead, than live my life minus the feeling of gratitude.
Mind you, I miss my wife, friends and family. There are tastes, smells and things I often took for granted while back home in California that I deeply wish I had here in Kenya. Even so, the following phrase continues to circulate through my mind, often on a daily basis, “how did I get so lucky for this to be my life?”
How is it that I sit here, looking down on this slice of God’s pocket that is the Daraja Academy’s campus? Right here… right now?
It is Sunday morning and my father and I are sitting on the deck of my home, which overlooks campus. The emotion in my heart and pride in my soul cannot be described in words that human beings have created or in punched out letters on a keyboard. Their width and breath far surpass anything I could explain, but I’ll try.
Having worked so hard to make this campus more than just a thought, but a reality, has left a dry riverbed running through me that is very susceptible to flood. Often without any warning, emotion crashes through without any thought of consultation. If we can raise the money, raise the awareness that will make “YEAR 1” a reality, this world will be right.
This campus is still a shell of what it will eventually be – the students are not here. The soul is not here. Yet, it is still a miracle. The dozen-or-so colors of bougainvilleas spill across the 150 acres as if a giant tripped while carrying an armload of different cans of paint to the Gods. Herds of cows, goats, sheep and smaller animals roam back and forth under the constant symphony of thousands of equatorial song bids. Small antelope (duikers and dik dik), some no larger than rabbits, dash about in groups of twos and threes, nibbling the green shoots of grass that grows beneath the thorn covered acacia trees. There are baboons that sleep in the trees by the river at night, porcupines and tortoises The Daraja Academy campus is here. It waits for the world to take notice and give it life.
On Tuesday I am driving south to a small town called Makindu with Peter Wathitu and my father. We will be visiting an incredible nonprofit that has been operating for 10 years providing care, food and opportunity for a very special group of children. This project in Makindu cares and advocates for orphans of the HIV/AIDs epidemic. As most children born in Africa with the virus die within months, over 90% of these children are healthy but on their own, due to a cruel twist of fate and circumstance. That is, they were on their own, until they came into contact with the Makindu Project.