On Monday I will be the MC at a Silent Auction in Auckland. The cause is one that is truly inspiring, and highlights how passion and motivation can be turned into achieving your goals.

Early this year I was fortunate to be a keynote speaker at the same event where Cassandra Treadwell, the founder of educational charity So They Can, also presented. In the audience was Jacqui Edwards, who told me that my talk, and Cassandra’s charity, motivated her to make the dream of volunteering in an African school or orphanage into a reality.

Jacqui set about fundraising to travel to Kenya and freely donate her time and experience as an Early Childhood Educator. She will spend one month working with the Holding Hands orphanage and in the Aberdare Ranges School. The school was the first So They Can project, opened in 2010, as a result of negotiations with the Kenyan government and local Pipeline IDP (internally displaced persons) community.

So They Can’s key focus is to end poverty through education and building the local economy in Nakuru, Kenya. They work directly with the community, teaching them to become self-sufficient. Due to internal conflict, and a spate of murderous violence, thousands have become displaced persons in their own country. Over 1,000 children currently live in the Giotto dump site, where they compete for food with pigs and vultures. Not only this, but the children are also combating diseases and regular rapes.

The situation Jacqui will face is one that is hard to comprehend. To commit to something like this is certainly not the ‘typical path’ for a mother of teenagers. As I said in my blog last week, it’s one thing to deal with a situation forced upon you, but it’s something very special to search out a challenge that many don’t expect of you, and choose to do it anyway.

This trip will be enormous for Jacqui’s personal development, and she’ll certainly come back with skills that will help in her other roles in education. The biggest message though, must surely be that Jacqui has turned an intention (something loads of people have at New Year’s) into a commitment.

Jacqui approached me a few months back to help as a guest speaker. But her enthusiasm and the inner-strength that she has for her goal is infectious. It inspired me to do more, so I am thrilled to support Jacqui with her plan to run a micro-financing scheme based on a model that is operating in Kenya. It’s all based on providing money to families to build a house, grow vegetables and so on. Once they’re self-sustaining they pay money back.

Her organised passion has generated many followers like me. I’m excited to be supporting someone who has set a stretch goal, one that is based on changing the lives of many, many others

On her blog, Jacqui quotes Randy Pausch, “It is important to have specific dreams. Dream Big. Dream without fear”. Jacqui is doing this; her long held dream is taking shape. I wish her all the best.

Kia Kaha Jacqui.

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