I looked out on the crowd and saw 3,000 faces staring at me. What should I say? What could I say? The mayor of Bondeni, Kenya slapped me on the back with a huge smile on his face. His loving gesture almost made my already wobbly knees topple over. The microphone began to slip through my sweaty hands. I felt like I was going to faint.
My 16 years on Earth had been as predictable as they come. I was an average high school student, nothing more, nothing less.
Some friends and I had the opportunity to go on a service and learning trip to Belize. In Belize, we witnessed, firsthand, the reality of the world’s water crisis. We saw families walking miles for water so dirty we would not wash our hands in it, let alone contemplate drinking it. We knew we had to do something.
Over the course of a year we raised $25,000 to bring clean water to the community Bondeni - in Kenya. Given our young age, the organization we partnered with was blown away by our dedication and success. They decided to “break protocol” and send us to Bondeni, Kenya so we could help commission the water filtration system we funded.
That’s how I found myself in front of 3,000 people, in the middle of Kenya, about ready to faint. In that moment I learned a profound truth. I was not an “average high school student.” I might have been 12 short months ago, but I was not anymore.
If I was capable of that, surely I was capable of much more, and so is everyone else. I call moments like this the “Bondeni Moment” - when we become aware of our full potential, and our capacity to truly change the world. The response to our trip was to create Hands 4 Others, a non-profit designed to give other young people an opportunity find their “Bondeni Moment.” To make a difference, grow as a leader, and be empowered “to be the change they want to see in the world.”
What started as an idea on the back of a napkin, has grown into an international movement. To date Hands 4 Others has provided clean water to over 225,000 people in 15 countries around the world, while addressing critical needs, such as the refugee crisis. Thousands of high school and college students are a part of the Hands 4 Others movement. Together we believe we can “be the generation” that forever changes the world.