Monday, May 02, 2011

The Work of Nuru International & The Death of Osama Bin Laden

Sunday evening, before going to bed, I began scrolling through my twitter newsfeed, and discovered that President Barack Obama was about to make a special announcement. Before he was able to speak, the news was all over the internet via Twitter & Facebook. United States Special Operations Units had been in a firefight with Osama Bin Laden and the leader of the terrorist organization Al Quaeda had been killed. As I lay in bed, incredibly tired, I pulled myself together to go before the television and waited to hear the words from the mouth of our nation's Commander In Chief, Barack Obama.

As I waited for the President to begin his speech, my mind went back to September 11, 2001, and the day that four planes were hijacked and nearly three thousand lives were lost in a matter of moments. I was an analytical chemist at Mylan Pharmaceuticals and I was preparing samples for a test as the news came over the radio. It was shortly after that day that my career took a significant turn and I left the pharmaceutical company to pursue a career in ministry with Great Commission Ministries. Leaving Mylan was a difficult decision both financially and personally because I had many friends there, and I loved the fact that I was serving millions of people by insuring they had high quality medicine to take.

Over the next eight years as I worked and recommenced my studies on the campus of West Virginia University, my friend Jake Harriman was serving on the front lines of Iraq as a platoon commander in a Special Operations unit called Force Reconnaissance. While he was serving, he had seen a connection between terrorism, insurgency and extreme poverty that led him to launch out an initiative to fight the war on terror on a different front.  The connection in its simplest form is that terror and insurgency groups use the desperate conditions of people living in extreme poverty as a means to recruit individuals to take up arms against the West.

In 2007, Jake, John Hancox, and I met in Morgantown, WV, the place where John and I call home, and the place where the three of us initially met. We gathered together to talk about the issue of extreme poverty, and an organization that Jake and John were starting to fight extreme poverty by empowering local communities to lift themselves out of their condition in a holistic, sustainable, and scalable manner. The idea Jake and John were proposing absolutely fascinated me. In September 2008 the idea became a reality when we launched Nuru International and began this innovative approach to fighting extreme poverty that Jake had developed while attending graduate school at Stanford University.

We inserted our first team on the ground in southwestern Kenya, and today over 10,000 people are beginning to lift themselves out of extreme poverty through Nuru's unique model. Farmers are able to feed their families, save money, pay school fees, and have drastically reduced the incidence of malaria and waterborne illness.

As the President began his speech I took in the words of May 1, 2011. "...The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda. His death does not mark the end of our effort..."

Indeed, it does not. As long as there are people living in extreme poverty, there will be a recruiting ground for groups like Al Quaeda. I am grateful to be working with a team of dedicated individuals like Jake and John who are working to give our global neighbors access to tools and knowledge that will insure that this and future generations will be able to live with opportunities and choices and will take away the desperate conditions that contribute to the cultivation of terror and insurgency groups, trafficking, slavery, and many other significant global problems today.

The president wrapped up his speech, and I was sitting in my living room confronted with the reality that while this was a significant day, our work is not over. Every day, my friends and I who work at Nuru wake up with the reality that we are working toward ending the greatest humanitarian crisis of our generation. And so, just like the rest of the world, I will take a moment to reflect on this significant event, and then I will return to the work of engaging others to join us in this effort.

In that spirit, as you finish reading this, I want to invite you to join us in the fight by sharing Jake's Story with others, and possibly making a donation to further Nuru's work of empowering families out of extreme poverty in Kuria, Kenya and beyond. Thanks for reading and for your unique contribution to fighting terrorism and insurgency by working with Nuru toward the end of extreme poverty!


Alise said...

I'm so thankful for the work that Nuru is doing. I love that this organization is working to end terrorism not with the sword but with a plowshare. Thank you.

Eric said...

Best post-Osama bin Laden reflection piece I've read yet. Thanks.