Wednesday, July 19, 2006


So what do you say when someone you have always hoped to find in life walks through the doors of the international departures terminal - taking you completely by surprise - and asks "Do you have to leave today?"

When I started this business three years ago it was to step out of a work life that forced me to do incredible amounts of things that I 'had to' do or I literally would be out of a job. Forget going to the dentist or lunch with a friend - sometimes I didn't even have time to go to the bathroom which is a bit much but it happens. Work can be like this for so many of us. Yes we have to work. Yes we have to earn income. Yes life brings sacrifice and compromise and consequences which is fine. But I will never believe that work has to control us - we created it so we should be able to mold it around the other things we need so it works for us and not against us. Sure things will go wrong or someone will get mad but some things in life are rare and mostly these things involve people.

Yesterday I sat on my girlfriends deck drinking raspberry wine from a vineyard she had picked berries at on Westham Island in the North Arm of the Fraser River. I know this island well because it is beside other smaller islands in the river where my uncle and grandfather used to go duck hunting. When I was a kid I remember standing on the back deck of our house reaching my hands up in the air to touch the plastic bag that held the felled ducks out of reach of our dog - and feeling their soft warm bodies lying in a bundle while our family ate dinner. The Fraser River boasts one of the largest estuaries in the world holding up to a million salmon every day in a region that is the size of Britain. The river is one of Vancouver's major sources of income facilitating trade all the way from the interior of the province right down to the Pacific where it runs free.

As we sat on the deck we talked about work and another friend said she didn't know if she was ever going to work again. Having sold her business I guess this was an option but at 52 years of age I couldn't imagine how she was going to do this. I believe that life needs the nourishment of work, some form of effort to put forth that does something beyond ourselves. And it made me think of the word 'work' itself. To work, overworked, lack of work - it's a massive system of human trade that seems to have been derailed and needs to be rethunk.

How can someone in Vancouver decide they will never work again while so many people in Nairobi would do anything to have even a small portion of work. There is such a massive imbalance in work and wealth across the globe that there must be a way to look at this and turn it into something more beneficial to more people.

I created my work so I suppose I see it all as a different thing. I decided my life's work was going to be all about alleviating poverty - I actually think of that as my job. I happen to own a struggling small business that I hope to grow but at the end of the day what I do is simple - the small tasks of figuring out how to move capital out of the hands of those who have enough, or too much, and get it into the hands who are literally starving for lack of it.

Joseph called me this morning from Nairobi. He has had malaria so I asked him if he had lost weight and he said, 'not so much'. Likely he doesn't have money for the drugs and he probably got the malaria after going home West to his village. He too is Otieno - a boy, born at night. I was so happy to be able to say I would be there in a few days - after my second attempt to safari - the next chapter in my doing business with Kenya.

Pendo = love. Nakupenda = I love you. Penda = to love.


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5:43 PM  

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