One of the highlights of our Grand Canyon trip was getting the chance to get to know Samuel Grottis. Samuel is a good friend of Jimbo's and I'd been hearing about him for several years now but had never really gotten a chance to meet him. You might doubt Samuel's intelligence given that he agreed to fly to Arizona from Mozambique to do a death march across the Grand Canyon but I assure you, he is quite astute. :)
When Jimbo "retired" from P&G six years ago, we knew retirement wouldn't last long. But I don't think any of us anticipated him traveling to Africa and becoming enchanted with the continent. He joined a group of Wooddalers on an AIDS missions trip and realized, with his P&G hat on, that a stable economy would make a huge impact on the spread of the disease. This trip set in motion his eventual involvement with AfricaWorks.
He got involved with World Relief, which is where he met Samuel. Samuel is a fascinating man. He is from Zimbabwe originally, where he was a freedom fighter in his youth. Really! He was also an atheist and a communist of all things. While imprisoned and tortured he heard the voice of God speak to him in his cell. He had scant experience with religion up to this point. God set him on a new course for his life and he eventually ended up working at World Relief, where his most recent position was as Director for Southern Africa.
Samuel and Jimbo co-developed the AfricaWorks concept during Jimbo's visit there in 2004. The AfricaWorks mission is to be the “hands and feet of Jesus” by developing sustainable jobs for the poorest of the poor. They seek to empower native Africans in some of the continents poorest countries to become business owners and provide sustainable income for their families and communities. AfricaWorks is different than other aid organizations, which is what I love about it. A person gets a small business loan from AfricaWorks, establishes their business which they run and take care of and gradually they pay that loan back to AfricaWorks. Then cycle starts again. I love that money is not donated to people to start a business--it not only makes AfricaWorks self-sustaining, it gives the people power--they make the choice and the effort themselves.
AfricaWorks is rolling through communities and picking up momentum with each loan given. So far, it has been involved in the creation and sustenance of nearly 5,000 jobs! Samuel was telling me that people who are skeptical only need to see a neighbor's business in action and they immediately want in. Samuel recently left his position at World Relief to become the CEO of AfricaWorks and has big plans to continue building the organization.
I have become a little enchanted with Africa myself lately and have been trying to learn more about it, mostly through books Jimbo gives me. I also had a chance a few months ago to talk with Joshua who was visiting from Mozambique. He kindly suffered through my ignorance as I pulled out a map of Africa and peppered him with questions. I just didn't know much about which country was where--I felt like such an idiot! But he was helpful and explained what the other names have been, where it is safe, where he wouldn't like to visit. It was so fun!
I'd love to take a trip to Africa someday, even though it scares me quite a bit. But I would love to see the country, meet some people, see what kind of change is happening through AfricaWorks.
Does anyone have a travel agent they would recommend? Jay and I are planning a vacation to celebrate 10 years next year (yahoo!) and we'd like to take a really great vacation. We thought of going back to Sandals but aren't sure we want to spend quite that much. I thought maybe a travel agent might be able to help me more than Google. Let me know if you have anything for me!
Driving home from preschool yesterday, I noticed that Olivia was eating something. Knowing that I hadn't given her any food I asked Ethan what she was eating. "Oh, she's eating my craft that I made today." he said nonchalantly. The craft was popcorn glued to a paper plate. Olivia had a mouthful of glue-covered popcorn! Yuck. So naturally, being the stellar mother that I am, kept driving. :) A little gluey popcorn won't kill her...at least I don't think it will!
Okay, I had a bit of disturbing incident yesterday and want some input as to how I should feel.
I was at the Bloomington Lifetime yesterday for the first time. There was a girl in the row in front of me on an elliptical. She was going balls out. She was not drinking any water. And her bones were about to pop out of her skin. It was painfully clear that this woman is deeply into an eating disorder. Her ankles were about 4 inches in diameter and her muscles looked like they had been adhered to a skeleton in biology class. She had this horrified look on her face as she stared at herself in the mirror, pushing herself to go harder. After she finished at least 45 minutes on that machine, she hopped on to another machine and kept pushing.
So my question is this: what responsibility do we have to say something in this situation? My first reaction is that although she clearly needs help, it is not my job as a stranger to step in and say something. People with eating disorders are notoriously difficult to help--a stranger stepping in isn't going to do much. Does the gym have a responsibility when they see a member clearly abusing their body at their club? What if this woman has no one in her life that will confront her about her problem? What if her heart just gives up one day?