A post for a new decade…

Photo 04-01-2020, 09 14 35

There is only one way to begin this post, so here goes;

a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR and NEW DECADE to you all!

There is definitely a cut off for such cursory wishes. Not an official date but just a feeling that we all seem to discern at roughly the same time; perhaps when we reason that this year is much like the last.

I hope then that this post and my well-wishes has arrived in time?

Albeit my year to date has been far from normal which is a nice bridge to what might be my most important blog to date – and I make no apologies if it is longer than my usual efforts. And few laughs ahead either, if any?

You see, as I write, us Hollands are in Kenya, as some social media enthusiasts amongst you will know already. A family holiday (we did a 3 day safari) and a chance to be away and all-together, but principally we wanted to visit the places in Nairobi where The Lunchbowl Network (LBN) do their work; a charity that many of you will be familiar with via The Brothers Trust.

A very abbreviated history of The Lunchbowl Network…

A London couple, Sally and Stuart McGreevy visit Nairobi, Kenya in 2005 – like everyone else on their flight I expect, bound for a safari family holiday. But the McGreevy family holiday becomes the catalyst for LBN when they chance upon a Methodist missionary who runs a feeding programme in the Kibera slums of Nairobi.

How to describe Kibera?

It is a place of unimaginable deprivation. Because it is not fixed, determining its size is not easy – but a good approximation is the size of Richmond Park, close to where we live.  London’s biggest park at 6 miles square; the former hunting ground of King VIII and now famously home to a herd of deer. Kibera is home to more than 1.2 million people.

Clinging to a hillside; a squashed succession of mud dwellings with tin roofs not much bigger than transit vans and home to up to eight people, most usually, a mum and her offspring. No running water. No electricity. No sanitary facilities at all. Open latrines of raw sewage being what connects them all and everyone at the mercy of the unrelenting heavens.

Toto’s famous song, Africa has the emotive lyric, “I bless the rains down in Africa”

But I wonder if the people of Kibera would agree with this sentiment as the heavens rain down misery on their porous ‘homes’ and during particularly heavy rains, can wash their homes away entirely.

These are the world’s poorest people which I reason since they have nothing. Average age is 15. Infant mortality some estimate for the under 5’s up to 50% and from the stench and the slurry we walk through, it doesn’t need a biologist to understand why.

My words and writing is inadequate to convey what Kibera truly is – so feel free to set your imaginations free and you might get an inkling of this grinding life and by contrast, our  great fortune.

The great life lottery of where we are born?

And with this experience of Kibera fresh in their minds – Sally and Stuart head for the airport after their memorable safari – but unlike their fellow tourists returning home, even though they’ve done the Masai Mara and seen the lions, they are already decided that they will return to Kenya.

And before then, they resolve to begin fund raising to support this feeding programme in the slum that they have seen. It is not a comprehensive provision – remember, there are over 1m hungry ‘Kiberans!’  Just a Saturday lunch affair for some 350/400 of the most deprived children and just how such kids are discerned is anyone’s guess and not a job I would relish.

Anyway, their fundraising begins in earnest, headed up by three mums in South West London and an official charity is founded called The Lunchbowl Network which has now grown into a thriving endeavour that The Brothers Trust is proud to support.

If ever a charity fits with our hopes and intentions, it is The Lunchbowl Network.

Remarkable people tend to do unusual things and so in 2014 – Sally and Stuart sold their house in London, upped sticks and relocated to Nairobi with their four children so that they could concentrate their energies on LBN. Their goal: to make a real difference to the lives of the children of Kibera.

The Saturday feeding programme continues to this day – and I was able to experience today. The state of my career, I am not used to seeing a room quite so packed but not even in my hay-day as a stand-up comic, could I ever compete with the atmosphere created by 400 hungry kids singing their lungs out ahead of their only hot meal of the week.

But as well as this heartening spectacle, LBN under Sally and Stuart’s stewardship has now become something much bigger and more durable with the founding of two kindergartens and one mid-school, providing a vital education to these children.

Education being the most potent weapon against poverty…

How many politicians the world over do we encounter using such a line with elections pending?

Providing numeracy and literacy skills (not to mention, English language) – are the essential keys for any kid hoping for a better adulthood than that enjoyed by their parents. This is a noble longer-term aim of LBN but let’s not forget the more immediate provision of the daily respite and refuge for these kids just being out and away from the Kibera slum.

Because Kibera is a wretched place. A living hell (by our living standard) and so LBN Angel kindergarten, directly across from Kibera is literally an oasis for these kids. It is pristine and safe. It has running water and toilets. It even has a hot shower. Hot breakfast and a hot lunch is provided. A playground with toys and the children wear beautiful school uniforms to compliment smiles as broad as any I have ever seen.

And because I knew that I would write about this experience - all week, something has been troubling me.

Not just how I could adequately describe this place and this extraordinary charity but something much more unsettling in this age of Identity Politics which I believe serves only a rarefied elite and certainly not the people it purports to protect.

My troubles can be summed up in two words which I will come to shortly.

Personally, I am often persuaded by the arguments against aid.

Certainly, the mantra, Trade Not Aid resonates with me.

Give a man a fish and he feeds for a day. Teach a man to fish…

There are many ways of saying the same thing.

But such logic and sense quickly pale when walking through the slums of Kibera (with our armed guards) and experiencing the lives of the world’s poorest people. An experience as troubling as it is humbling.

Troubling because this needn’t happen, of course. It shouldn’t happen in a country like which has abundant natural resources and remarkable wealth. An elite as rich as any strata of our West…

And incidentally, the people of Kibera are not just squatters. No, they are tenants. They are paying rent for their pitiful plots and for their painful lives. But rent to whom? Who are these landlords?

Well, they are not the people you might imagine. As in, they are not the people who own the land. Kibera is just a sprawling hillside and is not owned by anyone. So these landlords are just opportunists. Inhumane Kenyans who will readily evict people if they don’t receive between $10 and $25 per month. And so Kibera is nothing more than a racket then and something that the Kenyan government doesn’t want to acknowledge nor do anything about. How utterly contemptible and depressing? Human greed out-punching human kindness.

And so because this an intractable problem, it is easy for us to ignore and do nothing.

And not just because out-of-sight is out-of-mind but even as a calculated response…

“Because, really… what is the point?”

“These people can’t be helped. There are there are millions of them. They live like animals and it’s all they know. And they seem happy, right? Well, the kids anyway”.

Certainly the children do seem happy and I write this in the context when children in the West (the Civilized world?) are said to be at their least happiest with so many markers: self-harm, prescription meds, rates of suicide and substance abuse all indicating that something is very wrong with our youngsters.

But I noticed that the smiles in Kibera are more scarce as the children became older. Harrowed looks are more common and no surprise with some of the things they might have witnessed. Kibera is a place where rape and violence is normal. Corruption is endemic and only compounds their grinding poverty. Kenya is a country with up to 70% unemployment. Alcoholism is rife. Stories of fecklessness that I hear are beyond frustrating and inevitably begs that question again.

“Really?”

Just what is the point?

What difference can we really make? Because these problems are cultural. These problems are intractable. Problems that are entrenched and will take generations to solve, if ever. Human failings exaggerated by a lack of infrastructure and precedent.

All these points and others I put to Stuart McGreevy, a man with a calm and soothing manner and who is boundlessly kind.

One child at a time is his repeated mantra.

“…Sure. We might just be a sticking plaster against a mortal wound, but for the kids who are directed to us, they receive a small lifeline and maybe a chance of a way out to a better life.”

Which instantly strikes a chord with me.

His response put more bluntly might be –

“So what, we do nothing, then?”

The children in the care of LBN receive an education from professional teachers who are assembled to meet us before school term begins and rarely have I been so impressed to see an array of smartly dressed men and women who clearly take immense pride in their role. Much is asked of them and they seem more than up for the task. The men in particular, dressed in suits and ties, their function as role models almost as important as their teaching skills.

These teachers are paid of course – and solely by LBN from their fund-raising efforts – which brings me to the clincher in being able to commend LBN to any readers of this blog.

A common accusation levelled at charities is the waste of resources. The poor ratio of funds raised and what is actually spent on the cause. In crude terms: how many mouths are filled.

LBN is run entirely by volunteers. None of their key Charity staff are paid, enabling a remarkable ratio of 97p in every £ raised being spent directly on the kids meals or their education.

In the slum today (Saturday, 4th Jan) – I sat in the home of two young girls while their mum was out looking for work. The girls spoke little English and struggled to make eye contact. Shy or traumatised, I don’t know, but it wasn’t an easy encounter. Irene, a resident and matriarch of Kibera and key partner for LBN translates and relays their reluctant story.

I ask their names.

Mary and Agnes and this makes me smile; namesakes of two of my many aunts who I remember so fondly from my childhood. My aunts Mary and Agnes were both kind and loving women. Only Agnes is alive now, known by her birth name, Margaret and has featured on my Instagram when I last visited Ireland for some gigs. A nun all her life – Sister Agnes - was a missionary in India and poignant for me then to meet a young Agnes in such a place and in such a plight.

And fortunate also that via LBN I am able to directly help both sisters.

No doubt, you will have heard of child sponsorship already but LBN sponsorship offers benefactors some key advantages…

Because they are a small charity (total budget last year, £170,000) – and it’s key people are here in Kenya and on the ground, all sponsorship money can be specifically directed at the child and almost in full. Of the £25 it costs to sponsor a child with LBN, £24.25 will reach the child.

I couldn’t afford to send my boys to private secondary schools (not funny enough, as I joke) – but I can afford to put Agnes and Mary of Kibera through school and for this, having been here and experienced Kibera, I am thankful that Stuart and Sally can make this possible.

Of the 374 children enrolled in LBN schools – just over 60 of them are directly sponsored by people, mostly from the UK. If you would like to join them, then please do visit www.lunchbowl.org where all the salient information and appropriate links can be found.

And finally to the matter that has been troubling me for some time now but particularly so this week and those two words…

White Saviour!

…along with ‘privilege’ – it is now a thing to be contended with and based only on the colour of skin; the very thing that Martin Luther King dreamed one day would not happen.

But this is where we are now, a reality flagged up recently by President Obama. We live in an age where it is difficult to keep up with these vague moral arbiters who patrol our lives and our standards. What can be said and what can’t be said. How people should be referred to. Where our speech and even our thoughts (unconscious bias?) are policed and people are cancelled. Who these people are is unclear. But they are an elite and ironically themselves, most usually well-educated and ‘privileged’ people.

Being woke seems to be the new noun.  Another new word to contend with?

I don’t know who coined the phrase, White Saviour but I do know who brought it to my attention. A British politician and although he is notoriously stupid and attention seeking, sadly, this does not mean that he can be dismissed.

White Saviour is now a thing – and why an incident this week bares explaining.

The Brothers Trust have purchased two 50 seat buses for LBN, which allows them to ferry kids from Kibera ‘to and fro’ their mid-school across town. School is out during our visit which means the buses are free and the kids are back in the slum – so Sally suggests we arrange a day trip for them to an elephant orphanage.

Naturally the kids are excited. The only animals they have ever seen are stray dogs, cats, goats and wild pigs feeding off the scraps from the slum.

None of them have ever seen an elephant before.

One of the children on the trip is Jackson. 8 or 9, Jackson has cerebral palsy for which there is no special provision in the slum. Unable to walk, his grandma carries him to the kindergarten which is a perilous place to walk for even the able bodied.

To see the elephants, Jackson has to be carried from the bus and he is not easy to lift. His body is stiff and his arms are fixed over his head, so he is unable to nestle in to a hold the way that healthy children do naturally. A dead weight then and too much for a single adult for very long and so Jackson carry duties are shared and we all take turns.

My children are photographed often and some more than others as you can imagine. Another – the age of the selfie.

One of my boys was photographed whilst holding Jackson and the immediate concern was ‘white saviour’ and how this photo might appear as exploitative of a disabled black child. The person who took the photo kindly deleted it but being Kenyan, probably didn’t understand the reasons I felt obliged to give.

My Auntie Breda was also a nun all her life. She was given the rather unkind name of Sister Bernard for her vocation. She spent her entire working life tending to the poor in Ireland and then on retirement, she promptly hopped on a plane for South Africa where she founded an AIDS orphanage which is still going strong today. I wonder now how she would have reacted to the accusation of being a ‘white saviour’ (because it not meant as a compliment) and I am pleased she died before she had to consider such a thing.

Whilst I understand that the only enduring changes must come from within – I am more persuaded by Stuart’s argument that we should do something where and if we can. And deferring responsibility to others and particularly to governments is not good enough.

I am leaving Kenya today – bound for London – with some extraordinary memories including two lions copulating not ten feet from me – but even this sexual prowess (every 15 mins for 7 days) pales against what I saw in Kibera and I leave knowing that I can help Agnes and Mary for the rest of their childhood at least.

And for this admission, if the accusation of ‘white saviour’ comes my way, then so-be-it. Guilty as charged.

Because I am safe in the knowledge that Agnes and Mary won’t care about some non-intellectual social point scoring as they receive two hot meals a day and learn to read and write.

This is not written as a sermon nor a plea.

Just an honest account by a man of a certain age – who life has been inordinately kind to – and feels that we can and should do more for people not so fortunate.

And finally – to you all - and for the last time this year…

HAPPY NEW YEAR.

(next week’s post will be shorter, I promise)

Should you wish to find out about sponsoring a child via The Lunchbowl Network please visit https://www.lunchbowl.org/sponsor-a-child.html

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55 Comments

    • Joanis navarro January 6, 2020
      Reply

      Her experience has left me thinking about everything she said is more than true what caught my attention most was about education and it is a right that every child should have, as a teacher it is a beautiful thing to see that children learn, have fun and they are happy in every aspect, without a doubt thank you for sharing this and for giving us the example of contributing a grain of sand. Happy New Year

    • Kayla January 6, 2020
      Reply

      Happy New Year Dom & thanks for the story. We have more insight to the lunch bowl network & their amazing efforts. It’s sad when people now want to label charity because of skin color. Why can’t it just be people helping people? !~!

      • Dom January 7, 2020
        Reply

        As Martin LK dreamt would happen. Identity Politics serves only the people who espouse it – and they’re always the people already at the top.

    • Haley Enlow January 8, 2020
      Reply

      Beautifully written! It’s so easy for us to get wrapped up in our own lives and trivial problems that we forget how much worse others have it. Amazing work that you, your family, and LBN are doing. Definitely looking more into LBN!

  1. Kirsten January 6, 2020
    Reply

    Truly inspiring post, wish that everyone could read this and see how it might not be a big deal to us to donate some money or sponsor a child but to them it means the world. Really really inspiring

    • Dom January 7, 2020
      Reply

      I am surprised how small a number of the kids in their school programme are sponsored and I hope that we can boost the numbers – as I am sure that it is very rewarding albeit I only want sponsorships to occur where they can be afforded.

      • Kirsten January 7, 2020
        Reply

        Yh, true
        Still wish that more children could be helped

  2. Theresa Garnett January 6, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you for this long post Dominic. It absolutely breaks my heart knowing how some people live and makes me so angry that others feed their greed from them. I will visit http://www.lunchbowl.org and do my bit and if that puts me in the ‘white saviour’ category then good! Happy 2020 to you and the family

  3. Lisa January 6, 2020
    Reply

    A thought provoking post. Surely compassion is to be encouraged not judged! Making such a difference to a child’s life lis laudable, regardless of the wealth, gender or colour of the giver. I and hopefully lots of others are now aware of this small charity and can also help support those children.

    • Dom January 7, 2020
      Reply

      I figure that there are many people looking for causes to help and because of the muscular ratio discussed in my blog, I figure that LBN is a better option than probably all similar schemes and particularly those offered by the larger charities.

  4. Sun January 6, 2020
    Reply

    It may be a long post, but an important read! Thank you for putting your thoughts and experiences into words to make us try to understand what life in Kiberia is like. Hopefully your words can make more people understand the importance of the work the likes of LBN and your trust do. Best wishes for the new year.

  5. Heather January 6, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this story! I definitely want to help these children as much as possible. I truly love not just reading your posts but seeing your whole family’s involvement in helping make these people’s lives better. All of you are an inspiration to me!

    • Dom January 7, 2020
      Reply

      That’s kind Heather – maybe you and your friends can fundraise for LBN and sponsor a child between you?

  6. Elizabeth January 6, 2020
    Reply

    Hi Mr. Holland,

    A happy new year and thank you for taking part in the complex discourse of humanitarianism and the “white saviour” complex. I would like to share this insightful article about the “White Saviour Industrial Complex”: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/the-white-savior-industrial-complex/254843/

    I understand that the “cancel culture” fueled by social media today is very toxic. However, as someone who is a part of a developing charity, I urge you to look more into the structural issues within humanitarianism and incorporate them into the mission and vision of The Brothers Trust. Your charity has so much potential and has already made a significant impact on so many lives. I am in no way telling you how to run your charity. However, as a public health student, I’ve had my fair share of global health experiences where I’ve seen firsthand how these top NGOs and charities have only caused long-term damages to the circumstances of underserved populations.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. I am just very passionate about these things. I, too, am still learning how to navigate the complexity of global issues and how to take part in them. All the best.

    • Dom January 7, 2020
      Reply

      I take this on-board. I think the consensus now is that Western aid to Africa has had an adverse impact – and due to the endemic corruption that blights the entire continent – and why having Stuart and Sally on the ground and a ratio of 97p in the £ gives donors an assurance that their money will be well spent and will make a difference. But for sure, the only lasting changes will be made by governments and the people themselves.

  7. Claire January 6, 2020
    Reply

    Loved reading this post, thank you for sharing.
    I have only recently discovered The Brothers Trust and the wonderful work you and your family are doing, so it’s great to hear more about one of the charities and the difference it’s making to peoples lives. I think many of us (and I include myself here for sure!) truly do not appreciate how lucky we are, and this very honest account of Kibera really brings it home. It’s interesting you bring up ‘White Savior’, as I was only reading some Instagram comments the other day where a celebrity was getting slammed in exactly the same way – for doing great things! It made me so mad (and sad), but what you’ve said is spot on… the people who are actually are being helped don’t care about these idiotic comments, and we shouldn’t give the morons who write them a second thought!!
    Just keep doing what your doing, and I look forward to following/supporting more of The Brothers Trust’s amazing work 🙂

    • Dom January 7, 2020
      Reply

      Whilst I loathe the term white saviour – almost as much as white anything – but it feels good to be ‘out’ as it were – and as I say in the blog, Agnes and Mary don’t give a hoot about my colour nor who provides the money for their schooling.

  8. Ellen L January 6, 2020
    Reply

    This is probably one of my favourite blogs of yours to date! I’m going to start sponsoring a child. If that means me being a white saviour, then I’ll hold my head up high and proud; at least I’m doing something to help! Thank you for bringing this incredible charity to everyone’s attention. Happy New Year, I look forward to seeing what 2020 brings for you and your family.
    Love from, Ellen xxxx

  9. Lorraine January 6, 2020
    Reply

    Wishing you all a very happy new year Dom. A very thought provoking blog and written straight from the heart. It’s wonderful that your family are so involved in The LBN an honorable and worthwhile cause. Who cares ultimately what you are called if you are doing good by the child sponsored by you. What is most important is the outcome of the sponsorship ie; education and nutrition for the little one involved. You are changing a life and giving a child a chance of a better future. Well done to all involved Dom. On a lighter note I think most Irish families have an nun or two floating around and most have spent time in Africa – my own Aunt included for 30 years, a lot of good has been done by them particularly in the hospitals. Take care and safe journey home.

    • Dom January 7, 2020
      Reply

      Thanks – four nun aunties in my life – all of whom I loved and greatly admired growing up. Just two left now.

      • Lorraine January 7, 2020
        Reply

        I only have the one nun auntie whom I greatly admire and is a very special part of my life too

  10. Star January 6, 2020
    Reply

    The happiness in that photo radiates from both of you. Remember that kids don’t really see skin color like adults. Helping hands are loving hands; it’s what we should all aspire to.

  11. Kath January 6, 2020
    Reply

    I was so moved by your description of Kibera and it’s inhabitants. As a south Londoner I could easily visualise the comparison of 1.2m people in an area the size of Richmond Park and I just thought Holy F***! It’s wonderful what the LBN are doing and I will head over to their website. I would also encourage anyone who shops on Amazon to switch to SmileAmazon where you can stipulate that Amazon donate .5% of your purchase price to the charity. Yes I know it’s not a lot considering it’s Amazon etc but every penny counts. Thanks for this New Year blog.

    • Dom January 7, 2020
      Reply

      Thanks Kath – your suggestion is a great idea and I hope some people might follow your lead.

  12. Becky Z. January 6, 2020
    Reply

    Dom –
    Thank you for this amazing post. I too don’t understand why we can’t all just be human beings helping other human beings. I can’t believe that racism continues to be at the forefront of our lives. I pray that one day we can just be the human race and that we are all kind to one another.

    As much as I love Social Media to keep up with family and friends, to see what my favorite actors are working on, to learn about cultures throughout the world, and to see places I’d like to travel to, it has ruined our society. It has allowed bullying to prosper in new and heartbreaking ways. It truly makes me sad to read comments where people are so judgemental and mean to other people. We don’t have conversations any more, instead if you have a differing opinion you are bullied and “cancelled”.

    I have said it before and I will say it again, the Holland Clan is a light in this world. Thank you for shining light on this amazing charity. I am working on doing a fundraiser for The Lunchbowl Network for my birthday in February this year. No one should live in these conditions. People deserve to have food, shelter and safety.

    Thank you for continuing to live your life with an open heart to others and inspiring others to do the same. Kindness will prevail again, I believe that.

    Have a wonderful week.
    Becky

    • Dom January 7, 2020
      Reply

      There is power to find racism even where it doesn’t exist – and it serves no one but the elite in my opinion.

  13. Pamela January 7, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you for this blog and giving us incite into The Lunch Bowl Network and the wonderful things they are doing for the kids of Kiberia! I am definitely going to go to the website and check out how to sponsor a child. As as teacher, working in a building that has children from countries such as Africa, Mexico and Nepal, helping a child receive an education along with nutrition is the least we can do! If I become a “white Saviour” so be it! Happy New Year! I look forward to seeing what 2020 brings to you and your family!!

  14. Ceol January 7, 2020
    Reply

    Oh, you made me tear up with this one, sir, for a lot of different reasons. That term – white savior – is very much a punch to the gut. Here in Canada, we’re very much educated (and reminded) about the perils of colonialism/imperialism, and all the isms that come with those. The tales on this continent of damage done to the indigenous populations are as horrific as those on any other continent. And, sadly, what many of us take away from it all is, I think, a sort of helplessness.
    The one thing I learned over a couple decades of journalism, with a focus on indigenous communities, has been simply – listen. Difficult with language barriers, for sure, but it seems to be at the core of what you and your family have been doing – ask what’s needed, listen to the community, to the individuals, and fill those needs as best we can. We may stumble and occasionally go wrong, but it feels better than standing by and doing nothing.
    Thank you for this post, and thank you for giving us this small glimpse into a reality a lot of us would like to ignore, and thank you for giving us a way to step up and do…something…

    • Dom January 7, 2020
      Reply

      Thanks and in terms of people doing something – do share the post with people who might be looking for a charity that they can support.

  15. Desiré January 7, 2020
    Reply

    I really appreciate your insight and perspective. I might be naive but believe that those who give genuinely to those less fortunate should be admired not judged. Thank you to you and your family for giving back to those less fortunate as well as bringing attention to charities that are smaller. Love that several of your aunts were nuns.

  16. John January 7, 2020
    Reply

    Wow!! One of the most thought provoking items I have read in a long time. A poignant reminder, “there, but by the grace of God, go I.” No one donation or organization can hope to solve problems the magnitude of Kibera, but doing nothing is sure to solve nothing. I am pleased to add my support to the Lunch Bowl Network. Thank you, the rest of the Holland family, and the Brothers Trust for shedding light on this opportunity to help. Happy New Year to you and the Holland clan.

    • Dom January 7, 2020
      Reply

      Quite right about the complete resolution – not in our life times I’m afraid and it will only come from within.

  17. Deisi January 7, 2020
    Reply

    Happy New Year to you and your family too. I am a new reader of your blog, and this piece had me writing comment for the first time. I couldn’t agree more, always look at it from the perspective of the people in need, we might be their only lifeline for better opportunities – no matter how difficult the problems culturally, as also happens here in my country. Thank you for sharing and setting extraordinary examples to help people in need. Best wishes for The Brothers Trust!

  18. Keiro January 7, 2020
    Reply

    You son is playing whitewashed Miles a Morales, he deserves to rot.

    • Dom January 7, 2020
      Reply

      As you currently are? You are clearly in a lot of pain and I hope that you get the help you need, I really do.

    • Sam January 9, 2020
      Reply

      This comment is so awful. I didn’t really want to give it any kind of justification, but it’s so far off the mark from this… There’s much you could argue of it, but I’ll check my Spider-nerd at the door & let it go. More to my point, I’ve come to believe, & need to believe, that Tom Holland doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. All credit to his family. The real work being done, & being facilitated the trust, is amazing. It shouldn’t be seen as a charity. That’s not the right word anymore. Now more than ever, it’s simply, the right thing to do.

  19. Sally January 7, 2020
    Reply

    My family learned of the LBN from watching the short documentary at the end of Spider-Man Far From Home. My daughters, 7 and 10, had a hard time understanding the terrible living conditions they saw, and we’ve had many discussions to answer their questions. Especially my 7 year old would bring it up often and want to talk about how the children like her (no mention of skin color) live so poorly and it made her sad. We live in east Tennessee and they have witnessed poverty, but nothing like Kiberia.
    For the last 3 years we have been sponsoring a child in Uganda and the money goes to her education. We love getting her updates, and she lets us know how being held accountable by a donor keeps her on track to become a doctor.

    • Dom January 7, 2020
      Reply

      and wouldn’t that be a great outcome. Thanks

  20. Amber January 7, 2020
    Reply

    Beautifully written. I wish I had the proper words to describe just how impactful this was to read. Thank you for sharing your story 🙂 I hope many blessings come to you and your family in this new decade!

  21. Cathryn January 7, 2020
    Reply

    Thanks Dom.
    What a measured and honest blog. If the white man doesn’t use his wealth and ability to provide aid he is also attacked. I guess this is a very small cross to bear given the countless blessings and privelege of our place and time of birth.

  22. Alessandra January 7, 2020
    Reply

    Oops start over. Woww this was a long post in deed but so worth the read. There are so many poor areas around the world. So many places where help is needed. Not easy to chose the right place. It is good to start somewhere. And yes white saviour because if “white’ doesn’t do something no one would life a finger… Madagascar also needs help so does Brazil… You could add mother Theresa to the white saviour list… We want to help, there are so many charities.. You do your thing we follow suite and help how we can… If I had a dog I’d gotten a collar… I got a shirt… Waiting for open links to help out… It isn’t easy to find the right one the right amount of support and to get things done and sorted also some do it as big advertisement, big show… Not easy to clearly see between the lines… Its is nonstop work non stop money needed and technically never ends unless government does step in as in deed they have power and resources… Just wish we could do something and not feel useless as can’t see the change as it becomes a blurry line. The main thing is that we need to get things done and actually move things and rearrange and continue and make sure those who are helped get up and help themselves until they can help others and understand what needs to be done in order to prevent what has happen to happen again. Continue to dd what you do and keep it up. We are here to help out when we can… 🙂

  23. Emily January 7, 2020
    Reply

    I went to the slums several years back on a missions trip. It was life changing. I cant express how thankful i am for your family’s charities supporting these kids. You are all amazing people…

  24. Marie January 7, 2020
    Reply

    Ultimately, I think some out there DO fall into the category of the stereotypical ‘white savior,’ but their behavior is easy to spot and is driven by a need to show supremacy. They prey on the vulnerable, profit from their pain, and try to heroize themselves for their own gain. They act as if they know what is best for struggling communities without educating themselves and do not come from a perspective of equality.

    Your work with this charity is certainly the opposite. I’m glad that the Lunch Bowl Network has such strong communication with and respect for the people they are helping. Listening to their experiences and their needs in their own words is integral and important. That is what helping truly is, and I’m glad you and your family and all the volunteers as well as the people in Kiberia are able to collaborate together to do some good in the world. I hope others follow your example!

    • Dom January 7, 2020
      Reply

      That’s kind, thank you. You write very well btw.

  25. Elizabeth B January 8, 2020
    Reply

    Dom,

    This blog moved me in ways you couldn’t imagine. I’ve felt anger this week, too, when reading the internet. Yet at the same time I watched Ricky Gervais’s opening monologue and I felt a sense of justice as he showed a large crowd of elites how hypocritical they are in lecturing the world how to live our lives.
    Your story of Sally and Stuart reminded me of my mom’s cousin, who owned a successful construction company in TX but sold everything and moved to Malawi to start an orphanage called Zoey’s Place. They’ve built 3 so far.
    It is worrisome that people cannot donate money or be photographed because it will never meet the standards of the modern Pharisee: the woke crowd. One celebrity, Pink, donated $500,000.00 to firefighters in Australia. I read comments from people ridiculing her because her net worth is 200 million. Nothing is good enough for them. They have no peace inside of them and if you dare have a different view they will make you wish you were dead, they will threaten your entire family as a result too. It’s a bit terrifying, to say the least, how fast things have gone in just the last few years. But I’m thankful that there are people out there still taking a stand. Your sons have a great dad who obviously teaches selflessness not in a bragging manner but as one who lives it by example. Don’t ever apologize for it, Dom. I’ll donate as soon as I’m able to, but in the meantime I’ll be praying for Irene and Agnes, and all the people you mentioned above. Thank you for such a powerful insight on your experience in Kiberia. And as far as the long blog posts go, keep them coming!

  26. Ryan January 8, 2020
    Reply

    Dom, thank you for this post, I enjoyed the read. My family and I help run a street kid reintegration program in Western Kenya. We spent New Years in Nairobi and happened to be at the Elephant Orphanage the same day as you and witnessed picture situation you mentioned. Even though the Kenyan women’s actions were likely not malicious, it does not feel good to be made a spectacle of when you are working to help another. And sadly there is a fear now that those kinds of pictures will be used for criticism. It’s something that happens often though when working with children here. I am sorry that it happened that day. Your criticism of the Kenyan elite is unfortunately largely accurate. Trying to get the various government officials to act simply based on providing for humanitarian need is often a dead end, though there are exceptions that we work with on a regular basis. Rather, some other incentive is usually needed to get movement. It is frustrating, but if you let it push you to giving up, only the innocent will suffer. So I want to say thank you. Thank you for investing in the next generation of Kenyans. And thank you for pressing in and not walking away when you encounter infuriating situations. I am excited to see the change that The Lunchbowl Network brings to Kibera. Next time you are in Kenya, you should come to the west side for a visit. We would love to host you!

  27. Jenny January 8, 2020
    Reply

    Could have done without whining about Obama and playing the victim. Good luck with your charity.

    • Dom January 8, 2020
      Reply

      Not whining – just referencing his flagging of an issue. Lost on you, sadly.

  28. Sara January 8, 2020
    Reply

    I love your honesty. It’s such a relief in the current climate of political correctness. Honestly, I think telling your story the way it is does more to inspire people and bring goodness into the world than editing it to make it sound right for current culture. Thanks for telling it the way it is!

  29. Elizabeth H. January 12, 2020
    Reply

    Whether or not the charities I support help people that look like me is the last thing I’m thinking about when I donate. It is sad that you have to worry about people complaining about something like that. The Lunch Bowl Network is helping children, giving them hope, education, and feeding them. I’m glad that you’re supporting them.

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