In July, my husband Michael and I had the extraordinary opportunity to travel to Kenya and represent my company RealFoundations as volunteers with Crossing Thresholds.
We had a truly life-changing trip. The experiences we had with the vibrant and smiling children, inspiring educators, resilient members of the community and the wonderful CT staff and volunteers will stay with us forever. We helped construct a fire wall at a new school, painted the interior of one of the older schools, participated in two mental health programs, visited the homes of 4 students, connected with the educators and Kenya-based CT team by learning their stories, and were greeted with the best smiles and hugs ever by the children at each school we visited.
If you’re familiar with Crossing Thresholds, then you have most likely heard about the mentorship program. Many trip participants arrive in Kenya and a child captures their minds and hearts, but for those of us who remain at home, mentorship is a choice to open our hearts to the world.
In Community Development work, critics talk about the danger of the White Savior Complex. I get it. To the extent that it is a problem, the complex perpetuates arrogance. It is built on the false assumption that white people know more, know better, know how to fix and solve problems. In some cases, it is even more insidious. Consciously or unconsciously, it assumes that one way of being in the world is superior to another way of being in the world.
“Watching someone else totally go for it can be incredibly upsetting to the person who’s spent a lifetime building a solid case for why they themselves can’t.”
- Jen Sincero, Author
It can be pretty easy to fall into our patterns of what feels safe and routine. However, what if you took a leap? Jumped into the unknown with outstretched open arms and warmly welcomed whatever came. What would happen if each day you decided to do something that scares you? Too radical? Maybe let’s settle for doing something each week that pushes you outside of your comfort zone. Would your life as you know it crumble to pieces at your feet? Or would you maybe gain a new perspective and change for the better? You can only know…if you take the leap.
For those of you who do not know me, my name is Brian Odina. I was born and raised in Kibera with a single mother. We were three in my family – mom, one sister, and myself. The harsh reality of poverty was the unrelenting backdrop of my childhood. I spent much of my childhood worried about the people closest to me, and whether we could meet our basic needs.
As a teenager, I got involved in a Youth Empowerment Program at Facing the Future School (FAFU). The school was funded and built by Crossing Thresholds. At FAFU more than 8 years ago, I was blessed to meet the people who were involved with this organization. I can only say ‘they have been so instrumental in helping me realize more of my potential’. First, they provided a scholarship for me to attend college. A few years later, they gave me a chance to be trained as a certified fitness coach. It has been a great relationship.