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Organics 4 Orphans (and Africa) My journey to ground zero in the fight against poverty

his is what happened when alive's Publisher, Ryan Benn, travelled to Africa with Organics 4 Orphans—an incredible nonprofit that's growing change in impoverished areas.

It’s a mild summer evening in Kenya, a place known for its parading wildebeest and sprawling savannahs. I’m tired and a little twitchy from a 26-hour flight—but mostly just excited for the next few days of exploring and learning. My wingman on this journey is Alive Publishing Group’s Chairman, Volker Wagner, who’s also my boss, partner, and friend. Not to mention, he is the driving force behind our organization’s long-time involvement in Africa and is a force for good.

Tomorrow, we’ll head to the Maasai Mara National Reserve for a quick safari (when in Kenya …). After that? We’ll travel to Kitale, an agricultural town where a nonprofit organization called Organics 4 Orphans (O4O) is growing change, one organic kale seedling at a time

This is Africa

On our first full day in Kenya, my soul is warm. I feel energized, stepping back on African soil for the first time in several years. This place is special. You can feel the energy of the land and the people with every breath and step. At the same time, you might experience a sense of disorganization and anxiety and (if you’re like me) an acute awareness of your status as a privileged visitor. This all culminates in tangled feelings of excitement, guilt, and curiosity.

After witnessing the great wildebeest migration across the Mara River, where only one unwitting wildebeest was snatched by an awaiting croc, we’re back to the red-tinged soil of a Maasai Mara runway. A four-seat (pilot included) Cessna has been arranged for our flight to Kitale, where O4O does the bulk of its work.

I suppose this is where I should reinforce the term TIA (this is Africa), quoted most notably by Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Blood Diamond. In this case, TIA refers to the fact that our charter flight is with an unknown airline, to which we randomly sent money and asked to be picked up at the most random of dirt airstrips in Kenya.

You can worry, or you can go with the flow—because TIA. And things do tend to work in Africa, albeit a bit differently. Our plane ends up arriving ahead of schedule, and the one-hour flight is beautiful. Our host for the next couple of days, Dale Bolton of Natural Calm Canada, is there to greet us. Dale and his wife, Linda, founded O4O, and he currently acts as its International Executive Director. He’s accompanied by O4O’s Kenyan Country Director, Boaz Oduor.

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