Giving Back

Life-Changing Work in Kenya

This relationship started over pancakes and developed halfway across the world.

I met Mark and Tina Hagen at a breakfast diner in Loveland, CO. They spoke to me about a need to rebrand their passion and life’s work, Saruni International, a girls’ rescue center in Kenya, Africa. This was a desire put deep in the heart of Mark in the 70’s while he was on a trip to Kenya. He saw a need in a land where young girls were crying out for help. FGM and early childhood marriage is custom to the culture there. Mark and Tina have made it their life’s work to provide a safe place and a loving environment where young women will have the opportunity to grow emotionally, socially, spiritually and educationally so that they will experience hope, dignity, and value.

After we worked together on a new logo, they sat me down and said, “Chy, you just have to meet these girls… it will change your life.” Followed by, “Will you join us and bring your camera?” Never in my dreams did I think I would be afforded the opportunity to go to Africa, but if I could use my talent to help tell the stories of the people there than I could be a part of something bigger than myself. This was meant to be and I was happy to be a person who says, “YES”!

I witnessed a miracle for the first time in my life, I saw the impossible become possible.

For 16 days, our team worked tirelessly to service the community of The Olooloitikoshi Girl’s Rescue Center (GRC) and their surrounding community. We brought over 300 pairs of shoes in our suitcases, coached a volleyball camp to children (many of which had never seen a volleyball in person), we taught in the classrooms of a primary school, spent a lot of time teaching life-skills to the girls at the center… and THEN THE MIRACLE HAPPENED.

We had planned to serve lunch only to our athletes participating in the volleyball camp. But on our first day, the little children of the primary school next door jumped in the lunch line too. This meant that we had an extra 200 hungry mouths to feed.

The children in this remote area walk to school before sun-up and leave school at sun-down. Schools do not provide meals and so many of the children only have a small meal in the evening when they get home (if they have a place to call home).

We had enough food to serve 150 people, but by a miracle we fed 350 people every day all week long. Each time we would scrape the bottom of the pot (thinking we were scooping out the last large serving), we found that our ladle was full once more. The provision was there and the hungry were fed all week long.

Coming back to the United States, I had an entirely new appreciation for those who make missions their life’s purpose. I left a piece of my heart in Kenya. The thousands of images I took while there has helped Saruni International boost their brand image and raise funds to further their cause. You can see more of these images on their Instagram feed. I would highly encourage you to consider giving to them as well… trust me, it will change your life.

Sierra’s Race Against Menengitis

Sierra's Adventures Children's Book

Giving talent & heart can often times have more impact than giving of funds.

This entire book just happened to plop in my head while I was taking a shower one day with my boy happily playing in his baby seat. I hustled out of the shower, grabbed my towel and laptop and typed up the words as they came to me. I then happened to find a young aspiring artist, Charlie Theobald, to illustrate this book for me. I had some demos created and presented this book to the Krizman family in loving memory of Sierra Krizman who lost her life to Bacterial Meningitis. This is a heartwarming story of faith and adventure while also carrying out the message that a simple meningitis vaccination can save a life. 100% of the proceeds from each book sales going directly back to Sierra’s Race Against Meningitis. Over the past 10 years, this book has raised $75,000 and so ultimately, Sierra’s memory lives on and continues to save lives.

Watch their story unfold through this testimonial of faith, perseverance and unconditional love.