Thursday, January 3, 2013

Our Founder Visits California: Michael's December Tour

Michael Nyangi, Founder and Kenyan Director of Achungo Children's Center, made his first trip to California this year.  This was a long awaited, long-planned visit to connect with his many supporters and for many more to hear his incredible story (see the prior post for his story).  He arrived on Wednesday, November 28 and stayed over 2 weeks, departing December 13.

Most of his flight costs were covered by a very generous supporter, using frequent flyer miles and paying the added fees.  Most of his trip he stayed with the Fishers and became part of our family and a very evident inspirational influence on our children.  And during his stay he visited 3 church sites, spoke at an informal dinner (potluck) and a formal tea, shared with many school children at 3 different schools, and told his story at 3 evening events and 2 luncheons as well as the MPPC Men's Bible Study and a private prayer group who had been praying for him for the past year.   I accompanied him at these events and each time I heard his story I was more inspired by it!

He enjoyed a trip to the beach and to SF, including the Golden Gate Bridge, and visited with the Sisters of Mercy and with Kiva in SF
as well as with the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Countries (SEED).  And he toured Stanford and Silicon Valley, with a special tour of Google.  He thoroughly enjoyed his visit and reached many people in many ways and it was hard to see him go!

Michael joined a panel with Mark Swarner, Mission Pastor, and Zenebe, Director for an NGO in Ethiopia (Hope Enterprises) on Sunday, December 2nd at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church (MPPC) in Menlo Park in front of about 60 people and that evening again at MPPC's Mountain View campus with about 35 attending.   Michael told his story of realizing how little it took financially to change lives and founding first a micro-finance organization and then Achungo.  And he shared his forward-looking vision for Achungo.

The following Sunday, Michael shared his story with the youth group at Saratoga Federated Church and after services, spoke to a large gathering of those interested in missions in Africa and supporters of Achungo.  Here he is part of a presentation to the original U.S. Executive Director, Barbara Jeanrenaud and her husband, Henri, who are retiring from the Achungo Board.

During the week, Michael spoke to the 6th, 7th and 8th graders at Eastside College Preparatory School in East Palo Alto, hosted by Suney Park, a longtime Achungo supporter and teacher at Eastside.

Trinity School, a private primary in Menlo Park, has been something of a sister school to Achungo for almost 2 years.  Michael shared with the entire study body on Friday morning and then was invited into the 5th grade class (top picture on the right) and 2nd grade class (lower picture on right) where we handed out letters from the 5th and 2nd graders of Achungo.  Trinity students have been writing letters to Achungo students for over a year now and it has been an enriching experience for both sets of students.

We also shared with the Trinity preschool class and showed them pictures of the animals and of the school and students in Kenya.

 That afternoon Michael shared his story with 200 7th graders of Hillview Middle School in Menlo Park.  In the top picture to the left, Jonathan Schaff, a 7th grader who visited Achungo in June 2012, introduced Michael to his fellow students.

In the lower picture to the left, Michael stands in front of the bleacher seats that were filled with the 200 7th graders during his talk.

That was a large crowd of teens but they were silent and respectful throughout Michael's presentation.