Nobody should go to Africa for just four days. But four days is better than none. A door opened, an invitation was offered, and we squeezed A Peace of My Mind’s first international engagement into an already full schedule.
In June, we had our exhibit and studio at a conference for Points of Light and there we met some folks from Good Deeds Day, an organization based in Tel Aviv that is active in 108 countries and encourages acts of service and kindness. From their website: “Good Deeds Day is an annual tradition of good deeds. All over the world, hundreds of thousands choose to volunteer and help others, putting into practice the simple idea that every single person can do something good, be it large or small, to improve the lives of others and positively change the world.”
Good Deeds Day planned a gathering of African partners in Nairobi, Kenya and asked if we could run a studio there. It was a whirlwind of logistics to plan the travel, visas and shots. I flew out of Chicago O’hare so I didn’t have to miss my father-in-law’s 80th birthday celebration and I returned to Seattle afterward to go straight to my next engagement at Holden Village.
The entire conference was in English, but even though I had seen the appeal of the project in the United States, I wasn’t sure how things would play out on the other side of the world. It turns out, storytelling and art are universal in the way they can connect and inspire.
Over two days, we gathered 140 stories. We had time to talk, laugh, eat and dance with people from 28 countries across Africa. Maybe it was because of the sort of people who are drawn to Good Deeds Day, or maybe it was because we were in Africa, but there was a joy and energy in the crowd that was contagious. There was a hustle and a determination to do good, regardless of what obstacles might be encountered.
At our first lunch we sat with a young man who supported orphaned children in Uganda with the small amount of money he and his friends could raise on their own. He had big dreams of expansion because he saw great need and was moved to respond. His quote from that day sticks with me. “I don’t know how I will do it…but I will do it.”
It’s a sense I have felt in other places around the world where resources might be limited, but ingenuity and determination are off the charts. For all the material wealth we have gathered in our country, we have accepted a spiritual poverty that weighs us down.
Africa offered joy. It offered hope. And it offered inspiration. We asked, “What inspires you to do good?” And we all have much to learn from the answers.
You can view some of the responses below, or you can watch this video on our Youtube channel.