In college, my major was International Service and Development. I spent significant time in Latin America, working on projects that used education as a tool for grassroots self-empowerment and social change.
I remember working in a day care center on the outskirts of Bogota, Colombia. One day, I made the mistake of picking up one toddler and spinning him around in circles by his ankles, “como una gallina” (like a chicken). For the next four months, every morning, eighty little kids would line up for their turn to let the gringa swing them around “como una gallina.”
The kids were beautiful, smart and funny. As a nineteen year old college student, decades from being a Mom, I loved them. They were family.
After that experience, I thought about a career as an expatriate development worker. I realized that I felt more comfortable leaving that work to the people from the countries themselves, while I worked on change in my own country from a different perspective — supporting personal and business growth and development. It led me to volunteer for 10 years as the Executive Director of a martial arts program that served hundreds of youth, many who were originally from Mexico and Central America. Helping them make sense of their world, and celebrating and loving their roots felt like a full circle. I loved them, and still love them, as if they were my own children.
Today, in many places in the world but particularly in Africa, every 45 seconds, a child dies from Malaria. Malaria is preventable. These children are no different from my own, or the kids I loved in Colombia, or in San Francisco. Their parents felt the same swell in their heart when they saw their babies for the first time as I felt when I saw mine. They are our relatives, our strength, our future.
For this reason, I was very proud to participate in a project created by my dear friend Michael Bungay Stanier and Seth Godin from The Domino Project. It is a book called End Malaria that has fresh essays about why and how to do great work. It includes 62 original contributions from some of my heros and High Council of Jedi Knights like Daniel Pink, Nancy Duarte, Tom Peters and Sir Ken Robinson. It is the kind of book that will open your mind, ease your fear and help you move forward to create great things in the world.
$20 from the sale of every book goes to Malaria No More, a non-profit organization with a mission to eradicate Malaria by 2015. That is 100% of the cost of the Kindle version and 80% of the hard copy version. The remaining $5 will be used for production costs. None of the contributors or publishing house are taking any money from sales, and Amazon makes no profit on the project. My hope is that it will be a show of solidarity for families in Africa touched by this disease.
Initiatives such as these are not a replacement for the complex and difficult work of development for Africans and by Africans. My friend Teddy, who is from Uganda, writes passionately about the topic at Project Diaspora, highlighting the development work being done every day by Africans, and often looking at expatriate aid programs with a critical eye.
From a very personal perspective, contributing a piece to End Malaria was an act of love as a parent. I want to see all our world’s children grow up strong and healthy and loved.
To see the complete list of contributors, to learn about the project and to purchase the book, go to:
I want to give a special acknowledgement to Michael Bungay Stanier who took on this enormous task with an open heart and tremendous stamina. I love you Michael, and am very proud of what you have created.