Tag Archives: El Salvador

When You Are the One Receiving the Thanks

27 May

photo-2Last week I traveled through Nicaragua and El Salvador visiting our programs, chatting with our staff and making preparations for our new Feed The Children brand, which will be nationally launched on June 16th.

Last Thursday in El Salvador, I helped to dedicate a new water project providing water to over 250 families, a school, and churches.

Every time I travel overseas, there’s a speech I hear often from those families we serve. And it always begins with “Thank you.”

“Thank you for giving us hope that our children can stay in school . . . ”

“Thank you for providing our children with nutritious meals we couldn’t provide for them. . . . ”

And, “Thank you for remembering us, Mr. Kevin and coming to visit us today. . . . ”

Whenever I hear these words I feel overwhelmed because I know that it is not on my effort alone (by any stretch of the imagination) that has led to these thank you statements.

But yet I am the one saying, “You’re welcome.” I’m the one who everyone wants in their pictures. I am the one who makes the long voyages to remote villages because it is my job. People want to thank me. And I’m glad to meet them.

It would be easy I think, for this praise and focused attention to go to my head.

(And I know now why so many CEOs in positions like mine get in trouble, thinking that the great successes in the field are some how all about him or her).

But I don’t want it to. I want there to be a better posture in which to receive “Thank you!” I want to humbly honor this responsiblity given to me.

This is what I know after almost 2 years of being in this role: I don’t want to be “the” face of Feed The Children.

photo-1I want to be “a” face because this is a team effort of monumental proportions.

I want to be “a” face because I believe in our team and the importance of their faces too.

I want to be “a” face because I know I am only one of the many who ensure our mission of no child going to bed hungry is the forefront of what we do everyday!

It takes the work of many and countless hours to come along side communities to help them build capacity to take care of themselves. When I show up, it’s the conclusion of a long process of development work.

And so when I’m now out visiting field programs, I encourage our photographers to take pictures more people than just me. I graciously can accept a thank you, but I want to do so with other leaders beside me. I want to cut ribbons with other leaders right there.

At my core, I am merely representative of all the amazing FTC staff globally that put their own comfort on the back burner and sometimes their lives on the line to serve a higher calling to help those who want desperately to change their life conditions.

And if I forget, I have my wife to remind me– my life partner who never lets my head get too big . . . ever.   

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Going to the Field

14 Mar

photo copy 3One of my favorite and most important things I do with my job is travel. Though there are a thousand tasks calling my name regularly at the office and sometimes folks lined up outside my door with questions, I know I need to regularly get out of the office and into the field where our programs are located.

I need to see with my own eyes the impact our feeding, education, water and sanitation and livelihood development projects are having within the communities.

I need to be able to shake the hands of the field staff– some of the greatest saints I know who are changing the lives of children every day.

I need to be able to hear the cries of mothers who are pleading us to do more for their babies.

Because of all of these experiences, I come back with a different kind of leadership focus. I want to do everything I can to do right by those under my care.

Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to El Salvador and Honduras. It was my first time in El Salvador since becoming the President of FTC and I was impressed with the good work I saw, particularly the innovation.

It was wonderful to see the water project we have going on in El Guayabo. In this community, fathers, brothers and uncles are gathering together to help Feed The Children build a water line through their community that will provide 2,500 people clean drinking water for as long as the pipes hold up (which should be at least 40 years!). This clean drinking water will assist 600 children, all of which are a part of our school feeding program.

Men often get a bad rap in some parts of the world as being lazy or unmotivated, but not in El Guayabo! These men were working hard providing not only a better life for themselves but for their families too. They even got me involved in the action as seen below. In a couple of months it will be finished. I can’t wait to travel again and see the progress!

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Then, when we arrived in Honduras, one of my favorite things awaited me. I was given a couple of hours with the boys of Casa del Nino. This home is the orphanage that we run for 38 boys aged 6-16 in La Ceiba.

I love these boys as if they were my sons. And what a privilege it was to take the whole group to dinner at the boys’ favorite restaurant, Pizza Hut. We laughed, we smiled and I was able to introduce them to Tom and Phil, two of our new international staff that recently joined our Feed The Children team. See Phil below being silly with two of our boys.

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These boys have such joy in their life, even with all of the challenges they’ve faced. All of them come from communities with little food security. Most of them have lost one if not both parents. Many of them came from the streets or abusive situations. Yet they smile and they tell me, “Mr. Kevin, I love it here at Casa del Nino. Thank you for being my family.”

How can your heart not melt at this?

My goal is to visit one or more of our field programs once a quarter. Sure others on staff could visit (and some do), but I go not only to see and experience our programs and encourage our staff, but I go for myself. I go to find energy for the big tasks that lie ahead. I go to get my spiritual boast that this truly is God’s work and I’m just one instrument in the larger mission of what we’re seeking to accomplish together. I go to come back and work even harder.