Saturday, October 8, 2011

Boys to Men

Four Boys to Young Men 

Two years ago I introduced you to four boys from an orphanage in Lilongwe, Malawi. In some ways these boys represent all of the orphans of Malawi, and perhaps around the world: a parent or both parents lost to some unspeakable disease or tragedy; faced with financial, physical and emotional challenges, and to say the least, an uncertain future. But through the generous hearts of a few, many lives are being impacted.

I visited the orphanage this past July with a group of thirteen family and friends and I talked to these same four young men again; I am aware they are no longer boys but young men. As would be expected they are more mature, more serious; there is still a certain playfulness but there is a greater urgency in them. For teenagers in the developed world, at 17 and 18, there is not the same sense of urgency, college is a given, if they want it, and frequently there is a secure net for those who want to be trapeze artist. But that is not the case for these young men, a net has never existed, they study hard, make it or move on.

The journey to Mtendere is long, we left on Saturday night (from New York) and arrived Monday afternoon, there were flights and layovers and more flights and more layovers, but like most of the truly sweet things in life, the wait was worth it. In some ways the journey helps to strip away the madness of life at home and open us up to a new pace and place. On this trip we stayed in the orphanage, we wanted to spend as much time as possible with our brothers and sisters in Mtendere Village. 

videoOn this trip we did health check ups, health seminars, leadership training, tutoring, planted gardens, taught jump rope, organized storage rooms, taught West African dance and tie dyed tee-shirts and anything else begging for color but most of all we just connected on a simple human level.  The day we left one of these young men expressed a strong desire to attend university in the US, I marveled at his un-sated hunger, a hunger we must all have to change the world. 

Thank you for your support


Peace and tons of love 


Kevin

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Four Boys From Mtendere Village

UNICEF indicates there are approximately 210 million orhans worldwide.

We all have a view of the world influenced by numerous visual data points; my view of orphans has been shaped by my friends who have adopted beautiful babies from Russia, Guatemala, Korea, China, Eastern Europe, the American heartland and the celebrities adopting precious babies from Sub-Saharan African countries. I envision dimly lit institutions, housing these beautiful innocent infants, products of varied human experiences.

That may very well be the case, but we at People of the Invisible, LLC. have seen an alternate reality and perhaps this reality is playing itself out all over the world today. This is the reality of young people orphans, soon to be adults, who really are not adoptable in that traditional sense but who still have needs. This world is a place housing hundreds of children, many pre-teenagers and teenagers, generally orphaned by an unspeakable disease that has taken father and mother.


In this installment of ‘People of the Invisible – Four Boys,’ we briefly step into the lives of four Malawian orphan boys and get a feel for their story, making that which was invisible, personal. Of course from our six minute video you cannot really “know them” but hopefully the veil on their world is slightly raised and you will be more connected to the world; and your heart, like mine, will be softened and from this softened heart solutions will evolve.

video


The needs of these and all orphans are, of course, family and love. However offering love and family is an extremely complex concept, especially from thousands of miles away, but their education is a reachable reality we can impact; providing for their education as we would provide for our own children is critical. They need a quality education to take care of the needs in their own communities. In Malawi the cost of sending the high achieving children to good schools can vary considerably but I have seen fees for good private schools in the range of $130 – $150 a trimester; these are the fees of outstanding schools that will allow those who have shown some aptitude and desire to possibly reach their dreams. Basic government schooling is much less and can range from $13 a trimester to $90 a trimester depending on the quality and the living situation.

How can you help? You can help in a multitude of ways; my concern is less how you do it or where you go to do it, just simply find a way to be involved in the solution. Raising our voices for education based solutions is critical. Because People of the Invisible, LLC does not yet have a non-tax deductible status, I am not actively soliciting money for this cause but if you insist, you can make a non-tax deductible contribution to People of the Invisible, LLC. 'four boys' and 100% of your money will go to addressing the needs of the children at Mtendere Village in Malawi, where I have personally visited a few times. People of the Invisible, LLC is determined to bring about change through education and I pledge that every dollar you give as a result of the story of the 'four boys' will go directly to the educational needs of orphan children of Mtendere Village. But let me emphasize, awareness of these problems is the big engine behind change.


For some context, I find the following facts contrasting Malawi and the USA speak volumes, these are all from UNICEF:

Population:

  • 14,000,000(Malawi)
  • 300,000,000 (USA)

Orphans:

  • 1,100,000(Malawi)
  • 2,800,000 (USA)

Gross National Income:

  • $250 (Malawi)
  • $46,040(USA)

Life Expectancy:

  • 48 years (Malawi)
  • 78 years (USA)

People with HIV:

  • 930,000 (Malawi)
  • 1,200,000(USA)

Other organizations, all quite unique, with which I am familar, doing good work in the area of orphans or educating children in Malawi and other areas of the world include:
www.americares.org/newsroom/voices-from-the-field/malawi-field-report-09.html

http://www.kidsplayintl.org/

http://www.100xmissions.org/


Peace and Love


Kevin







Monday, February 16, 2009

People of the Invisble: Knock's Story

'People of the Invisible' is a space designed to make visible lives and stories that have been generally invisible or at least are not clearly in our sight. We know these lives exist but they reside in the recesses of our collective minds. We at People of the Invisible, LLC believe that by raising awareness and making an 'invisible' tangible and personal we can become instruments of change. These videos are only lightly edited and shot on site by an amateur (me) so they are raw but that keeps cost down.

This first story is of Knocks, a "regular" guy with an extraordinary story that unfolds in the 8 minute video below; Knocks lives in Malawi with his wife and six children. His story is not unusual in Malawi, a country with an alarming HIV/AIDS incidence reported at approximately 14.1% of the adult population (USAID, 2005), people on the street believe the incidence is much higher; and approximately one million orphans in a country of about 14 million people. You will learn that Knocks is a "people of the invisible."


video

What can you do?

  • Pass along this blog
  • Seek information
  • Let your awareness expand and your heart guide you.

If you feel compelled to donate money, please send a non-tax deductible contribution to "People of the Invisible" with "Knocks' Story" in the memo section of your check. The address is P.O. Box 846, Norwalk, CT. 06854. 100% of your contribution will go to the eductational needs of Knocks' children and the educational needs of orphans in Malawi. But please be assured we feel that by watching this film clip and sharing this blog we begin the process toward constructive change.

Here are some websites that provide information and programs related to the above:

http://www.americares.org/newsroom/voices-from-the-field/malawi-field-report-09.html

www.kidsplayintl.org

Peace

Kevin Knight

People of The Invisible, LLC