Tag Archives: Children

Working Space Inspiration

4 Apr

What does a President of a large international relief and development organization get for a gift?

After all I’ve seen and experienced in my travels around the world, I’m convinced that I don’t need a thing.

However, it is good to have a comfortable office space in which to work, but it is even more important to work in a place that inspires you and reminds you why you do what you do.

Several weeks ago, my staff who was tired of coming into my office and looking at ¬†blank walls decided that it was time to put something on those blank walls – this large display behind my desk. I couldn’t believe how wonderful it turned out.

What joy these faces are to my wife, Elizabeth and I as many of them are kids we’ve met during our travels around the world!

What responsibility we feel to make sure we are doing everything we can to help no child go hungry!

What hope these faces give us for the future!

Look at their beautiful smiles!

I loved my gift!

Attachment-1Now, every time I look at this large display, I think to myself ….. I love my job.

I think about how thankful I am to have such a supportive partner in my wife Elizabeth, who works (without pay) within in our Public Relations and Communications Department because she believes so strongly in our mission.

I think about how my life has been changed by the faces of these children– the hands that I’ve held, the hugs I’ve received, and the meals we’ve shared together.

And I pray that my heart continues to stay open wide for this incredible journey and for all that is to come.

So, until my next trip, I’m surrounded by this working space inspiration.

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It’s All About Just One

15 Jan

imageBeing in this line of work, people stop to ask me two kinds of questions.

The first is something along the lines, of (not really a question) “Wow, you must sleep so well at night knowing what kind of good work you are doing?” (These are the people who want to make me into the saint I am not).

And the second is, “How do you sleep at night after all the things you’ve seen in other countries? Don’t you just get so overwhelmed?” (These are the people who don’t realize having your heart exposed to such poverty and injustice is just a part of the role).

However, the real truth is that some nights I sleep just fine, and others….not so much.

I am 100% confident that I am doing with my life what I need to be doing right now, but at the same time, I do have restless nights. I feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders. I don’t want to let down the hundreds of thousands of children — who are depending on Feed The Children. I hope that I am doing everything I can to let the staff know how much they are valued and appreciated so that we can focus our efforts on delivering for the children.

While I am encouraged by the good I know we are doing in many places that are in desperate need of hope, I am also filled with anxiety sometimes as to why we can’t do more. There are always sad faces that I see on children when I travel, kids who I know did not get enough to eat the day before, both in the US and around the world. ¬†And there are always too few hours in the day to accomplish all that I dream about coming forth at Feed The Children.

However, there are new mentors I’m gaining along the way. They are teaching me that at the end of the day it’s always about just one child.

It’s about one family.

It’s about one opportunity presented.

It’s about one life changed.

It has been interesting as I have settled into my role with Feed The Children that there are several kids in different places I’ve traveled that have stuck with me. I’ve seen thousands of kids. I’ve hugged hundreds. But then, there is one or two in a country or a region of the world that have captured my heart in a special way. I know I am doing my job for them.

I know these are the ones that come to mind when I have a bad day. They encourage me to work smarter and lead more wisely.

In the wee hours of the night when I can’t sleep, I think of them. I remember as my mentors have taught me: it is always about one child.

And because of this one child, I keep on keeping on– long, sleepless nights or not.

What I Saw in Honduras and Nicaragua

12 Dec

imageLast week, the Feed The Children Christmas tour continued as Elizabeth and I packed our bags for Central America.

We went to see the field programs that seek to feed children, provide better opportunities for education and livelihood development– many of which I had seen before (in Honduras last December) and in Nicaragua (which I had not). We went to share Christmas gifts with the kids in our programs on behalf of the rest of the staff in Oklahoma. We went to do what we could to encourage the good work of our field staff in these countries.

[As an aside, Elizabeth when she travels with me pays her own way to go. She is so excited about the work and mission of Feed The Children that she currently volunteers her time to support the work of our communications department and build relationships with staff as I travel. She recently wrote about what this experience has been like for her in case you are curious here].

As we rose at early hours in the day and traveled down bumpy roads and drove up the hill seeking to not get stuck in the mud in other communities, I couldn’t help but think about how great our reach is an organization.

I know I share the statistic all the time that we feed over 352,000 kids every school day. It sounds like a nice number. It is a big number (but of course I think we could feed more). But, when you begin to see with your eyes what this work looks like as I have in back to back trips over the past three weeks on multiple continents, you can’t help but say wow.

In the past at FTC, we haven’t been as upfront as we should have been about our international field work. There has been more that we should have done to communicate the message of who we are and who we are serving to our staff in Oklahoma as well as our donors. But, it is a new day and a new conversation. And I am here to tell you, I am so pleased at what I see going on in Honduras and Nicaragua.

image copyI saw children in a Honduran community, where the major income producer is collecting trash for recycling, coming to school with TOMS shoes on them (distributed by FTC) eager to learn.

I saw children in FTC’s care at Casa del Nino (a boy’s home for ages 5-18) in Honduras who were among some of the most well-behaved boys I’ve ever met with hearts wide open to love and give back to those in need in their community.

I saw children in a Nicaraguan community with mothers who so desperately want a better life for their families that they’ll come to parenting class and spend time learning out to bake bread in our community development center that they can sell to their neighbors.

I saw so much poverty. I saw so many dirty faces. I saw so many babies who needed their diapers changed.

But, I saw so much hope: hope that our field staff is bringing to these communities everyday.

It’s hope that looks like a hug, going the extra mile to enroll one of the children in one of our programs, and the look of delight when a child gets a plate full of rice, vegetables, and chicken.

I know Christmas is days away– but for me, my heart is already full. I’ve had my Christmas. Honduras and Nicaragua were places that brought the icing on the cake that Kenya made for us weeks ago.

I’m so proud to lead this team. And, in you should be proud of one another too.

Kenya on My Mind

4 Dec

picstitchTwo days ago I returned from my second trip to Kenya since I’ve been President of Feed The Children. It was another wonderful adventure.

While there were countless business meetings and other official activities to attend, what I enjoyed most was the time spent with the children at the Dagoretti Children’s Center in Nairobi, an orphange we run for about 100 kids.

Different from our other programs around the world, the Kenyan kids are our own! Once these kids enter our care, they are ours for life (unless they are adopted or reunited with family somehow). Many of them were either dropped off at our doorstep or left in hospital rooms by parents who no longer felt they could take care of them as babies. Some lost their parents in terrorist attacks. Some of our toddlers were found in trash heaps. Many of them have special needs. All of them just want to be seen. As I greeted each one, what mattered was not the color of my skin or my country of my origin. Rather, what they wanted from me (and all their caregivers) is to know that they were loved.

As a received big hugs and warm smiles from babies, teens and even from our group home of young adult men, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “I have the best job in the world.” Though the circumstances that brought each of the children to the center were harsh and most of all unjust (every child deserves the right to grow up in a loving family!), to see each of the kids thrive was the spiritual jolt my soul needed.

It’s easy in a line of work like this, especially in an organization where transformation is the name of our game plan, to get bogged down and discouraged. It’s easy to forget why we work so hard. It’s easy to not say prayers of thanksgiving. The challenges can sometimes outweigh the feelings of blessings. However, as much as I went to be with and serve the kids last week in Kenya, I need to declare that they served me!

As I muse about all of this today with Kenya still on my mind, I am grateful for the encouragement I received in Kenya last week.

My wife and I often talked about what our eyes saw and our ears heard last week. We couldn’t help but think about the scripture where Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

In Kenya last week, we saw so many of the faces of God. And for this, even as I’ve settled back into the harshness of winter in the US, I say thank you, Kenya.