Birthday: February 3, 1953
My Journey with Thrive
After being struck by the size of the orphan population in Africa, I felt a strong pull to go see the situation first hand in 2004. True to what I had heard, there were unsupported children everywhere. During this time money was raised to help build a home for orphans. The seer number of unsupported children was still very bothersome.
Not long after, I returned to Africa and toured different orphan organizations. Often they would comment on the cost of feeding all the kids. I asked why were there no gardens? When I was a kid a garden is where we got so much of our food. Not only that but most of the kids were eating pretty meager meals of rice or corn with a few beans.
After a number of days of mulling over the food cost problem and the quality of the food, the name Thrive just came to me on a walk one morning. That was an “a-hah” moment! I knew if we could create food security in orphan care communities then surplus children might stand a chance of being looked after.
I took a month-long course on organic growth in Africa, where I met my good friend and trainer Boaz Oduor. Together we agreed that we could find the money to start community learning gardens.
The next year I saw a small but significant number of people dying from different tropical diseases. I then realized that we not only needed food security but also health security for everyone.
We consulted a number of naturopathic doctors and holistic nutritionists to determine which foods would be the best to grow to fortify people’s immune function. We were also fortunate to be introduced to Anamed International. Anamed worked in Africa but was started by a German pharmacist who had a passion to teach about locally grown herbal medicine. After taking a 5-day course with them, we felt we really had a chance to change the lives of orphans and their caregivers who were dying in record numbers.
By the end of year 3, we had a number of African workers teaching food and health security. Also, more than 100 projects had been created.
During a visit to a new project we expected to see mommas greeting us by singing and dancing, but that day there was almost no one around. It turns out there were 16 funerals in that little village on that day. This confirmed to me that we were on the right track by providing health and food security for all.
Today we now have a training center that has helped equip leaders in 20 countries. These leaders have helped more communities than we can count.
The challenge is not getting better yet. Today there are 60 million orphans which are 20 million more than when we started. Now we work to create cost-effective training centers all over the poorest parts of the world.
What is your favourite vegetable?
I am rather fond of parsnips – but a great salad of arugula is a strong tie.
What is your greatest achievement?
Pioneering the work of Thrive has to be at the top of the list. I know that this organization would have never happened without my amazing wife and wonderful staff.
If you could visit anywhere in the world you’ve never been, where would you go?
That is a hard one, my wife and I have travelled to over 30 countries. Probably what comes to mind is a mid-size Pacific island that has lots of trails to explore.
What is your favourite quote?
Christ said in John 10:10,
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
What is your favourite family tradition?
Having 4 children who are married and 10 grandkids, it is fun when everyone gets together during the holidays. Christmas gatherings are always good.