Children living in Kakuma Refugee Camp fascinated with Kevin’s tattoos
Guest post by Kevin Turk
I never imagined a point in my life where I would have the ability to travel across the globe and speak with organizations affecting people’s lives at such a profound level. Yet, that’s exactly where I found myself this past July…traveling through remote areas in Kenya. If you read the rest of this blog, my one hope is that you will come away with a better understanding of how far genuine compassion for our fellow human beings can take us.
As our world continues to shrink with new forms of communication, I’m beginning to sense a generalization that this access is globally available. “I’ll Google that,” or “Hold on, let me just punch the address into my phone for directions.” I’ll be the first to admit that I am always ready to jump on the next big tech trend. Recently, I was reintroduced to the power and capability of an often overlooked method of communication in today’s modern world – radio.
In July 2018, I was lucky enough to travel to Kenya with the CEO and founder of Lifeline Energy, Kristine Pearson. We had meetings scheduled with organizations all around the country over a three-week span. The meetings varied as we encountered new partners, current partners, and potential partners. All of them had one thing in common: genuine compassion for their fellow human beings.
In several meetings with potential partners, I had the feeling they were thinking, “are we really listening to someone talk about radios?” But as the discussions progressed, Kristine talked with them about their challenges in education or in communicating with particular vulnerable groups. It was almost always the case that it was something that could be improved or solved with a radio or an MP3 – vs an app, smart phone or tablet. I found this to be fascinating.
The people we spoke with were locals. Those who had spent their entire lives in the communities where they reside. It hit me that modern technology has the ability to expand the reach of so many, while simultaneously holding others back.
The majority of our trip was traveling by road through arid, sparsely populated northern Kenya. We spent time in remote villages with various livestock-keeping pastoral groups. Although they had seen white people, none had visited their communities.
We also went to the Kakuma Refugee Camp, another indescribable experience. In the US you often hear how refugee camps are dangerous places. I never quite believed this, but it was the only narrative I had ever heard. It COULDN’T have been further from the truth.
It was a densely populated place – made up of refugees from six or more African countries – but it functioned as its own city. They are a community, all trying to live together peacefully. It was an incredibly humbling and inspiring. One I will never forget. Not even to provide assistance (which the schools and kids so desperately need) but to see that there are people that have been forced out of their homes, lost loved ones, and are still living their best possible lives…This goes to show that no matter your situation, genuine compassion can go a long way.
This is why I continue to support Lifeline Energy after all these years. I see for myself the difference that having access to information makes. I also see how Lifeline values relationships with local organisations, communities and the people they work with.
Author | Kevin Turk
International Tom Hanks Day Co-Founder
Kevin Turk is a Marketing and Major Events Consultant based in Chicago. One of the co-founders of the wildly successful International Tom Hanks Day, he devotes time and energy to this annual event, and the charity it supports - Lifeline Energy. Kevin has traveled with us to our projects in Zambia and Kenya.