Sunday, October 23, 2011

Empowering children in Kenya

Twenty years ago three young Rhodes Scholars met in Oxford, England. Mary and Janelle were from Kansas, Paul from Kenya. Time passed. Paul stayed in Kenya and became active in business and politics. In time, Mary became Director of Leadership Studies at Kansas State University and Janelle the Head of the Division of Engineering, Business and Computing at Penn State.

Paul's heart went out to the abandoned and orphaned children of his country. There are more than 50 million of them. His head followed his heart and led to the establishment of the Children and Youth Empowerment Centre (CYEC) in Nyeri, Kenya.

A couple of years ago, Paul invited Mary and Janelle to join him in establishing Zawadi Fund International, a U.S. - based non-profit to support CYEC.

CYEC effectively addresses economic growth and the alleviation of poverty through a comprehensive program that includes housing, health care, education and training that transforms young victims into proud and responsible contributors to a better world.

Last year folks in Colorado Springs signed on and raised enough money to purchase material from which young girls in training at CYEC made attractive and useful carryall bags.

Last Saturday (October 22), we raised over $1,000 by selling these bags at the Broadmoor Community UCC Church's Alternative Gift Fair. See the enclosed pictures. That money is already in the pipeline to be used to enrich the program at CYEC.

*A word for those only in the Colorado Springs area: To arrange a program for your group, to order more bags, or to make a tax deductable contribution, contact Maurine Hale,, or 719-488-1974.

But anyone can make a contribution to Zawadi Fund International by contacting Janelle Larson, or

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Woodcutter

If my grandson, whom I affectionally call Alexander the Great, happens to see this, I hope he will find it interesting and, perhaps, helpful. I happen to believe this is a good story for all young men as they prepare to make their own way in the world.

Friday, October 7, 2011

In Memoriam

Two great men died Wednesday. Of the two, the notice of Steve Jobs passing eclipsed that of Fred Shuttlesworth. Jobs revolutionized communication technology. I know, I have an ITOUCH, my wife an IPAD and while neither of us tweet, we do Skype our grandchildren. I understand that Jobs was not all that easy to get along with, but no one disputes his brilliant contribution to the technological revolution.

Fred Shuttlesworth was not all that easy to get along with either. In 1963, The Rev Fred Shuttlesworth, a Baptist preacher, orchestrated and led the mass marches in Birmingham that ended in a showdown between the Civil Right's Movement's child demonstrators and the city of Birmingham's fire hoses and police dogs and led directly to the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

I never met The Rev Shuttlesworth but I did meet his nemesis and arch rival, Eugene “Bull” Connor, the Police Chief who turned the dogs on the children. I was serving as pastor of a small rural church in south Alabama. Mrs. Connor's mother, a one-time member died and I officiated at her funeral. I exchanged but a few words with the “Bull.” That was enough. But, that's beside the point.

The Civil Rights Movement is the point. That's what Fred Shuttlesworth committed his life to and we are all the better for it. He was often the lonely pioneer as he led the way of nonviolent direct action. Although his enemies bombed his house, constantly harassed him, and had him arrested often, he kept the faith. The purpose of The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, founded by Shuttlesworth and two other black ministers, was to “redeem the soul of America.” He will be missed.

I cannot afford not to mourn the loss of Steve Jobs. His pioneer spirit and technological skill has contributed to the things we will use to face and shape the future.

I cannot afford not to mourn the loss of Fred Shuttlesworth. He demanded and persuaded society that humans—all humans—must not be treated as things.

I can only add that our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to use the tools that Jobs fashioned and the vision that Shuttlesworth lived to make a truly better world.