Tipping Point

November 3, 2010 § 1 Comment

It is far from coincidence that I started reading Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Tipping Point’ on Tuesday, October 27th.  A book that I’m sure many of you have read, but a book for me that landed serendipitously on the same day as a $100,000 dollar, anonymous donation to Flying Kites.  This kind of giving alters the course of countless lives to an extent that we will never fully know; blessings we trace through the lives of vulnerable children and families for decades to come.  Beyond it’s tangible effects, it carries a kind of energy and momentum that far exceeds the limits of it’s own magnitude. It has given a burst of visibility and already flowered into partnerships that will themselves grow legs of their own.  Which all begs the question, how humble must you be to give $100,000 without need for recognition; without giving your name at all?  The answer can only be that your heart is so fortified within itself and your sense of fulfillment so internally born that recognition is beside the point.  So, from the tiniest, aspiring chambers of all of us, thank you and bless you for what you are, whoever you are.  You are a gift to this world in ways we will spend lifetimes realizing.

With that news, can you begin to imagine how ecstatic and gracious and FIRED-UP I am right now?!  How VIBRANT every person with a hand in this struggle is beaming?!!  To give you an idea, I am writing this in a matatu on my way to Nairobi and the perches of my smile ache and the people sitting beside and behind me are smiling now too, reading this over my shoulder, wondering ‘what in God’s name is this mzungu writing about that could make the corners of his eyes wrinkle like that.’  It’s infectious!  But that’s just the beginning, the beginning of yet another chapter in this extraordinary journey. With one door open these kids walk further, but already a new and beautiful door awaits us.

Meet Peter Gitogo.  He joined our family Friday morning and has proven to be the most fearless and outgoing newbie I think we’ve ever had.  He proudly introduced himself to the entire assembly of school kids upon arrival, and on his first night came knocking on my bedroom door to show me how he’d learned to use the Leapfrog toy computer, show that he could slink a slinky, and to demonstrate how a rhino goes about charging a land rover, running a toy rhino against my door, all the while snorting and laughing.  He’s already hand in hand with the ‘pack leaders’ and is clearly equipped with a disposition to lead.  We are as grateful for his arrival as he is grateful for this new world of love.

If I could tell you Peter’s story and the story of every one of our children, I would.  If I could tell you the stories of the kids we are not yet able to help, I would do that too.  In ‘Tipping Point,’ Gladwell describes what he calls “The Stickiness Factor,” which is the specific way in which a contagious idea is born; an idea that becomes so impacting and memorable it is impossible to go about daily life without it now a part of you.  It’s something so spurring and inspiring it fires motion; creates change.  If I could tell you Peter’s story, it would stick.  The stories of the children sleeping right now in vacant shops would stick.  But you know this.  That’s why you’re here, reading this.  You’re connected to the idea of equity.  It is something stuck in your heart.

Now meet Josh and Jared Furtado, residents of Newport, Rhode Island, and founders of Tower Hill Associates, a recruiting firm for the clean energy industry.  They have visited Flying Kites in Kenya (Jared twice), both have climbed Kilimanjaro through our Adventure Challenges Program, and both are part of an extraordinary family.

The Furtado brothers recently and tragically lost their cousin Carly Liptak, who passed away at age twelve during a tonsillectomy.  The suddenness of such loss struck the Furtado’s, Liptak’s, and joining families in ways only those who share such an experience could understand.  To translate this pain into hope and change the lives of yet again countless people, the Furtado brothers and family have decided to construct a memorial clinic in dedication and memory of this extraordinary your girl.  Thus, Flying Kites will now be home to the Carly “Pie” Liptak Memorial Clinic.

In Africa, close to one in seven children die before their fifth birthday. Carly’s clinic will allow us to provide medical care to our orphaned children, the children who attend our school, and underprivileged children and families living in our local community. It will be a secure, clean, and advanced facility where medical experts can assess illnesses and provide care, treat injuries, manage ongoing conditions, administer and train parents and other health care providers. It will draw partner groups and serve as a launch pad for workshops, classes, and programs to educate families and improve local knowledge of issues such as safe sex practices, disease prevention, diet and malnutrition, reproductive health, pregnancy, childbirth, and breast-feeding. With the success of this project, we aspire to also incorporate dental and optometry services for children and community as well.

We at Flying Kites thank Carly, the Liptak’s, the Furtado brothers, and all who have been touched by Carly’s life for what will no doubt be an incredible legacy of lives lifted from curable illness and pain. The course of an entire community and region will be changed forever.

Can you feel the wave growing?

Take what you now know of our site, a brand new school, a clinic, soon a library, and thanks to our anonymous donor add higher certifications for all teachers, increased funding for community strengthening programs, an RV for our MyTurn recruiting group and funds for a national tour, plus finishing work on our new, headquarters office in Brooklyn, NY, which is by no coincidence in an old pencil factory. With such a growth burst, what more could we need?

We need those kids that we can’t yet reach. We need to build homes for these children. And with equal urgency, we need the consistent relationship and support of a sponsor for the kids we already have. Thus, it is now our pressing goal to satisfy these needs. $100,000 will have our school more than ready for them, Carly and the Furtado’s will have a clinic ready for them, UniteChange will have a library ready for them, and we will have love and a family ready for them.

Once more to Mr. Gladwell. A Tipping Point is the dramatic moment when an idea becomes a momentous epidemic. It occurs when people of a unique caliber, with unique social connections, enthusiasm, and personality take this exceptional idea and spread it with compassion to the hearts of those who cannot help but share in the energy of it’s realization. These are people who recognize word of mouth as the most powerful form of human communication, who recognize that the success of any noble effort will heavily depend on them!

You who are reading this are those people! You are the talented, heart throbbing few, who care enough to follow this story amid the whir of life around you. You are the people who can take this story and tell it where I am not able, who can use the strength of your character and your word to make a noble idea a radical reality! I am thankful for all of you, and I am asking now for your help more than ever. We are at the dramatic moment where we can tip! We can tip the heart of families, friends, business owners, butchers, and bakers in New York, Boston, Texas, Washington, Los Angeles, London, Kenya, and onward.   We can encourage sponsorship, holiday giving, find the people who can build the first house and save ten lives.  We can find one person to donate fifty dollars. And just as easily, we can be these things ourselves.  These children, this town, this region, and this continent is in need of REAL sustainable, consistent, self-owned CHANGE. I need you to be a part of this with me in whatever capacity you are able. If not you, then who?  Let’s tip this.


Life Lifted!



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