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Back to Kenya: Basic to Beautiful with ME to WE

A Twelve Minute Readphoto-8

Throughout my bicycle ride around the world from China to Canada, I came to the grand realization that we are all very much alike. However, our locations, cultures and views threaten to divide us. They threaten to make us feel like we are different. That our common man or women are removed from our current reality. That we are somehow better than someone else by mere circumstance. These are dangerous notions which only perpetuate the feelings expressed behind the glass wall of social media forums or news programs.

We are all very much alike in our personal wants and desires. If you take away the money, greed and power, the root of the humanity can be found in a few basic needs. The need for food on the table, sanitation, access to healthcare, clean water, shelter and opportunity. Beyond these basic necessities, we all want to feel love and connection. A connection to family and friends. To call a few people our close ones. To feel that returning feeling of love, forgiveness and warmth.

We all deserve access to these basic and affectionate sides of the human experience. We can help people achieve the basic pieces of the puzzle, but the soulful side is in the hands of the individual. Share that individuality on a local and global scale.

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“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ~ Ralph Emerson, Writer

The sun cracks over the walled green horizon. In the morning glow, the Maasai Mara comes to life. Roosters make their morning call, donkey’s neigh and the chatter of women can be heard in the distance. One of the oldest areas of human life begins another day. A life of simplicity, family and challenge.

The little things are but part of the daily existence called life. Words like water, food and shelter. We call these words basic rights, but for many these are in top priority for the day. The morning chores, the weight of the water bucket, the cleaning and preparation of available food are part of a greater effort being enacted here.

Arriving back in Kenya was one of those experiences which drove me down a tunnel of introspective nostalgia. I have now accepted a position at WE Charity as a Motivational Outreach Speaker. I am incredibly excited about this opportunity. It will be a unique chance to share my story of cycling around the world with youth and adults alike across Canada and the US, while promoting the sustainable development work of WE Charity. Though leaving my position as a Teacher after finishing my bike ride was difficult, it is an opportunity I could not turn down. I am incredibly proud and excited to share this news.

The new position prompted my return to Kenya on the biannual staff trip. It was in this capacity I could gain a stronger perspective of the work being done on an international scale, come to understand the programs in place and meet some of my new colleagues. It would give me an opportunity to give back to the communities I partnered with nearly two years ago.

As we drove out to the Maasai Mara, I relived my cycling route out towards Narok. Rolling along the hilly landscape that winds out of Nairobi, I found myself retracing my steps. I saw ghosts of conversations I had along the way. A shop where I had a broken bracket welded and a bottled Pepsi rest spot sped on by as my eyes wandered.

One spot in particular stood out as we stopped at the view point over the Great Rift Valley. The cradle of life lay before me once again. It was Canada Day July 1st, 2015 that I stopped there to have a bite of lunch and a view. Moments later a bus load of Canadians stopped by and I was able to share an afternoon break with some people from home. This was one of the more memorable look out points on my entire trip, not just because of the view, but because of the historical as well as the personal significance the valley represents. There I snapped the same picture and returned to our ME to WE lorry with a smile where new friendships were forming.

Arriving at camp was a welcome experience, getting to know our wonderful facilitators, Maasai guides and more team members. Over the next week we would eat, work and learn together. It was an action packed ten days at camp. We learned about the history, culture and challenges of life in Kenya, particularly for the Kipsigis and Maasai peoples. Here we made new bonds and came to understand the stark differences that separate our world. Access to water, food, education, healthcare and opportunity were always at the forefront.

“If you’re in the luckiest one per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.” ~ Warren Buffett, Business Magnate

Throughout the week a variety of activities were designed to give you a sense of the daily reality people endure. We participated in traditional water walks where lugging a huge jug of water back from the nearest river is the norm. This experience gives you a deep understanding of how precious water is when taking into account the wastefulness of our Canadian brothers and sisters. If we had to walk a kilometre with a large bucket of water on our backs five to ten times a day, we would all reconsider our use of water.

We beaded like the Mama artisans who participate in the opportunity pillar projects making a wide variety of fair trade items for sale through ME to WE. You learn how important these types of empowerment projects are in the lives of the local people. It allows them to send their kids to school, buy medicines and provide for their families in a way that was previously impossible.

These projects are supplemented by ‘merry-go-round’ initiatives which enable women as well as men to make investments into larger items in their household or community through a roundabout style collection and distribution of money. Basically, everyone puts in $10 and eventually it will be there turn to use $100 or more for something that would improve their lives. It is amazing what these people can accomplish with a simple hand-up. It is not a handout, but a hand-up to create sustainable change for future generations.

During the trip we had a variety of local entertainers join us. We went on a safari drive deep in game reserve territory where we saw elephants, zebras, gazelles, warthogs, buffalo wildebeest, giraffes, vultures, hyenas and even watched a huge pod of hippos while eating bagged lunches. We participated in weapons training where we launched arrows and threw traditional Maasai weapons called rungus into the afternoon heat. There was a rungu making session as well as Swahili lessons.

There were two huge ceremonies for the surrounding communities while we were in Kenya. The opening of the boys High School was a huge highlight and a massive step forward for education in the community. We also got to experience the graduation ceremony at the Kisaruni girls High School. Of all the groups of young learners I have ever met in my life, these are the most dedicated, mature, strong and powerful young ladies I have ever met. When I first had the opportunity to meet these girls I was blown away by their enthusiasm and often thought about how often we take education for granted back in Canada.

For myself, one of the most amazing aspects was visiting the Baraka Hospital, especially the surgical wing. When I was in Kenya a year and a half ago the surgical wing of the beautiful Baraka hospital was only a foundation. During my time there I participated in laying some cement in the work site. At the time it was difficult to envision what the end product would look like. Seeing the finished product and realizing the greater picture of change it would enact is hard to describe. When people travel hours down bumpy roads to get to a hospital only to be told they had to again travel another few hours to a hospital which offers surgical procedures, must be crushingly difficult. Soon, that will no longer be the case with the surgical wing opening in February.

The list of experiences and accomplishments goes on. The work being realized by WE Charity in Kenya is truly inspiring and difficult to accurately describe in full. All of the projects are interconnected to one another. The model of sustainable development has been put in place to a point where life events are coming full circle. People who went through the school system in communities which are now independent have gone off to university and returned to become teachers that give back to the community they grew up in.

The work here is truly changing and improving lives on a daily basis. It is something I am very proud to attach my name to. Helping communities rediscover their independence through projects they can be proud of has shaped future generations to come. Of the many communities WE Charity has partnered with, many are now completed independent. They have worked to a point where they function as a sustainable unit through the projects that have been implemented. They work under the sustainable model that empowers people through empowering them with education, healthcare, water, food and opportunity programs.

As I transition into my new role as a Motivational Speaker with WE Charity, I thank all of the people who have supported my ride. I thank those that have donated to make a difference in the lives of the people in the communities we sponsored in rural China, India, Kenya, Ecuador and Nicaragua. I thank most of all my wonderful wife, family and friends for being there through it all and helping me get to this point. I am now doing my best to live the message I have been promoting for over the last two years. Speaking for WE will allow me to get that message out there to a much later audience. For that I am eternally grateful for the people at WE Charity. I am so excited to join a team of intensely passionate and energetic people at WE. Together, through challenge and change, we can have a lasting impact on our world.

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*I look forward to continuing to share my adventures on here as my new exciting role with WE Charity begins. I will keep updates rolling as I develop my new speech and take to schools across Canada and the US.

**If you are curious to read about my original time cycling through Kenya, please feel free to CLICK HERE.

***If you haven’t had a peek you can watch my GoPro cycling journey around the world at the bottom of this post.

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2-Year GoPro Bicycle Adventure Around the World

 

 

 

5 Kind of Easy Steps to Following a Dream

A Ten Minute Read

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“It is better to risk starving to death then surrender. If you give up on your dreams, what’s left?” ~ Jim Carrey, Actor

     #1-Find that Dream:

Deep inside of us all is a pesky annoying little dream which we dismiss on a daily basis. We dismiss it, because we think that it is just that, an annoying little dream. We don’t take it seriously. We think it is not worth much of anything. At some point, for some reason, that dream came to light in the back of our minds. But, the stigma surrounding the thought of a dream, kept it there.

Looking deep inside all of us there is something which is calling us or has already called and been answered. Maybe you are already chasing that dream. For many though, that dream will never be realized, because the person didn’t take the first step to even admitting they had a dream at all. Life gets busy. It becomes complicated by relationships, expectations, the need to make money and survive. We have these expectations and these boxes which confine us to a certain degree. We think we are limited by our options by an age and forget those dreams.

Instead, I want to encourage you to limitless. Don’t box yourself in. Don’t shake those dreams off to another day. Take some time to think about what you truly want from this life. What you are able to give back and where you would be the happiest. When you are at your best, the people around you will be the same. With a little searching, you can find your dream.

They are inside us all, whether we already have realized it or not. That’s the first step, if you haven’t already done so, do a little searching.

     #2-Share that Dream:

After that pesky dream has been acknowledged, it is time to start sharing it. Whether that be annoying people online about said dream or telling random strangers. Sometimes, it is easiest to tell someone about these types of things who you have never met before. Some of the first people I told about my dream to cycle the world, were people I had only met for a few moments. It was a truly liberating feeling, expressing my ideas for the first time. It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I could breathe again. No one laughed at me, because it was clear I was sharing something important. When someone is genuine, we as humans usually take the time to listen. Whether any of these people truly thought I would follow through, I have no idea.

Once you feel you are truly ready to break the news with your inner circle, I recommend by sharing it with close family and friends. This is like pulling off a band aid over a patch of hair. Just come at it with all of your conviction and strength, knowing that it is the right thing to do. I assure you, the feeling will be much more gratifying when it is all over. You will feel a huge sigh of relief and your inner self with thank you for letting it all out. Don’t be hurt if everyone is not 100% on board at the beginning. You cannot expect them all to be. As long as they hear you and mildly understand what you are saying, that is half the battle.

After this, the ball will start rolling. Whether the people you love simply ignore your words, berate you, quietly listened or completely agree with your plan of action, you will have come through one of the highest hurdles. Sharing that dream is one of the hardest parts, trust me. This step is necessary, because by announcing it to many people, you are tied to your dream in many ways. If they heard you, they won’t forget what you said. They will remind you and hopefully help push your forward. It is important to share those dreams.

“The percentage you’re paying is too high priced,

While you’re living beyond all your means,

And the man in the suit has just bought a new car,

From the profit he’s made on your dreams.”

~ Steve Winwood, Musician/Songwriter

     #3-Build that Dream:

Now that you have shared your dream with your little section of the world, it is time to build that dream. This is one of the most exciting parts. Working towards something that you would like to change in your life or a new path to follow. Honestly, a dream can be anything. It can be making a commitment to lose 50 pounds. Maybe you would like to completely switch career paths at the age of forty-five and go back to school. It could be getting out of an unhealthy relationship. Maybe it is coming to terms with your sexuality. Maybe you would just like to be a little more compassionate. Maybe you have always wanted to sky dive. Maybe you always wanted to travel Europe. All of these things take some sort of courage to start.

Whatever your dream, big or small, it takes a bit of time to build. Successful dreams, do not happen overnight. Professional athletes, musicians and artists, mostly did not arrive after one day of work. They too all had a dream and had to work towards something they believed in. Most people who follow a dream, especially if it is outside of their comfort zone, had to sacrifice. Sometimes they had to sacrifice a good many things. Whether that be time spent away from home, giving up a bit of comfort or investing hard earned savings into something you have truly believe in. The larger picture will become much more clear as you near that starting point.

Trust me, some of the hardest moments in my life were in the building stages of a dream. That waiting, that work, that not knowing if it is truly a good idea, or you will be successful at all can be difficult. But, a little belief and hard work go a long way during this transition period. Build that dream one day at a time.

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     #4-Start that Dream:

You can do all of the building you want, but you need to pull the trigger and make that change. Dreams are like losing a bunch of weight. It is not a one-day deal; it is a whole lifestyle change. Crash course diets do not work over time, because they are miserable and unsustainable. You’ll eventually give up, if you do not enjoy something. What you are looking for with a truly life altering dream is building yourself up to the point where it is a lifestyle change. It is a change in mindset and internal goal setting. It is strange to me that many of us give up weight loss plans that we hate, but not jobs or partners that we hate. I don’t really see the difference. If it bothers you that much, make a change.

We are all at different stages in our lives, so a person who is seventy may have completely different life goals and dreams, compared to someone that is twenty. For someone much older it may be going back to complete some unfinished business and for the twenty something, it may be taking that initial leap into the unknown. Whatever age you may be, I want to remind you that it is never too late to start. You are never too boxed in.

Throughout my travels around the world, I met some of the most inspiring people, doing amazing things. Some of them were living their dreams under the most difficult of circumstances. I could see the passion in their eyes. In many cases, the idea of age is only an idea, category and number you put yourself into. The idea that we are all classed equally by our biology is a mistake. From the people I have met, I can honestly tell you that you are never too old to make a change.

It all starts with a single day. Light that dream.

     #5-Live that Dream:

Now, the most exciting part of the whole experience. Actually living the dream on a day-to-day basis. The waking up and knowing what you are about to do that day, is exactly what you would like to be doing or a path you would like to be headed down. You are firing on all cylinders, engaged and awake. You are not walking asleep through life, but living in the moment as it should be lived. You are losing the weight, you are entering new relationships, traveling Europe or even cycling the world.

All of these things started with a dream. A choice to make a change. We only get one life. There is only one of us. Why stay weighted under the prescribed notions of society when there is so much possibility out there? Throughout our years as citizens of the earth, we are influenced by a larger body of direction. A direction that keeps the wheels spinning, so to speak. We are conditioned by culture, media, religion and circumstance throughout our lives. However, I believe now more than ever, we are at a time in history where exploration, dream building and opportunity are more possible than ever. We have every chance and ability to access new sustainable horizons, if we do it in the appropriate way.

Living the dream is the best part. To embrace a new happiness with a plan to be the person we always knew we could be. To leave that comfort zone and try something new. To accept happiness and change. Dreams are forever. It is not one single act, but a new direction of thought. If you do not continually dream to make change in your world, your new vision will become stale. All choices have a meaning, as do all dreams and our present state. Always move forward. Look around you, educate yourself and read between the lines.

Living a dream is the culmination of years of neglect to our inner selves. It is like saying sorry and truly meaning it. The act of living that apology.

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*If you are looking for more information on how to build you dream, take that trip you always wanted or hear a little bit more, please feel free to email me anytime at markquattrocchi@hotmail.com

**You can check out my cycling video around the world for a bit more motivation below.

 

10 Lessons From Cycling the World: Lesson #4

A Five Minute Readimage5-e1438805529127

(Study Group: Masaai Mara, Kenya)

Lesson #4- We Can Make a Difference: Give Back

“We so often feel powerless to do anything about the many problems in the world around us. We are so often left to wonder whether one person can possibly make a difference.” ~ Craig Kielburger, Free the Children/ME to WE

—-> In the grand scheme of things Canadians are pretty lucky. I read an article the other day that said Canada ranked number two in the world for the highest quality of life. After cycling around the world and visiting over sixty countries throughout my life, I can say for certain that the article is not far off the mark. We have it very good here. Yes, we complain about the rising prices of goods, gas and taxes, but the services we get in return, cannot be matched. We are well off and monetarily we live above many other places in the world. With our disposable income and time we have the power to make change a reality for people in struggling parts of the world.

It doesn’t mean we all need to start a fundraising campaign to build schools, health clinics and clean drinking water projects around the world. What it does mean is that we all have the power to make change happen. This can be right in our home community. I also understand there are plenty of Canadians that are going through a tough time and need our help as well. Volunteering at the local shelter, lending a hand to an old neighbour or using whatever skills we possess to help the less fortunate are just some way you can help. We don’t need to change the whole world with our actions, but we have the power to change individual lives in the present. I know when I give back, the feeling of having done so goes a long way for my present state of mind.

On my cycling trip I decided to partner with Free the Children, because I was passionate about education. As a teacher I knew the power that education can have on the lives of people around the world. In the modern age, without education, many people are lost and without much hope for the future.  Because of that initiative, four schools have been built and one final school in El Trapiche, Nicaragua is on the way. It is hard to believe, but we are almost there. With less than $320 to the final goal of $50,000, I am blown away. When I look at the long list of over 300 individual donations from great people throughout Canada and beyond, it leaves me speechless. If you would like to donate on the last push of the fundraising journey, please CLICK HERE.

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*A full update on all of the schoolhouses constructed under my cycling journey will come once the final goal of $50,000 is met. Not long now!

**You can expect Lesson #3 tomorrow. Almost there! 🙂

Free the Children – Who We Are

Just Like Us: Charity Update

A Seven Minute Readimage

“Charity begins at home, but should not end there.” ~ Thomas Fuller, Writer/Historian

With over $30,000 raised, the schoolhouse in Esinoni, Kenya is now under construction. I cannot thank everyone enough who rose to the call and gave what they were able. Together we are making dreams come true for young learners in different parts of the world. We have now accomplished building a school in Guangming, China and the second schoolhouse in Verdara, India is now underway. I am without words. When I look back at my humble dreams of making a difference in the education of tomorrows youth, I would have never expected this. Simply getting on a bike everyday and going for a ride, has given young children the opportunity for a better future. The dream of having a memorable childhood is the gift we are giving. Seeing the smiling faces in these communities is all the thank you we can ever need.

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My next hope is an additional $10,000 and a schoolhouse for the children in Shuid, Ecuador. I know working together we can achieve this. Together we are powerful. Together we are strong. We can make a difference. We have already proven that. Giving others hope and a better life is one of the best feelings in the world. We are already off to a great start thanks to wonderful donations by Eleanor Glenn and the Rutherford family. Below is a look at Shuid, Ecuador. Some of the accomplishments, needs and details about the community are listed here. I hope to visit the site in the coming months, as I make my way up South America. Together our potential is limitless. We may not change the entire world, but at least we can give hope and alter the course of someone’s life forever. This is what it is all about.

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The more credit you give away, the more will come back to you. The more you help others, the more they will want to help you.” ~ Brian Tracy, Author

To make a difference in the world is not about throwing money at a problem and looking away. It is about extending your hand when someone else is down. When they are out in the cold both figuratively and literally. It is easy to forget about people worlds over or turn the channel. Those with the smallest voices need the most help. The people that just want to live in peace. My experiences throughout my journey are amazingly positive. If you open yourself to the world, you never know who you will meet. The people that had the least always seemed to give the most. When a little is a lot. When times are tough and they were still about to help. The places you’d at least expect kindness were the most giving. This world never ceases to inspire me. Something to think about:

Feels like Home

We closed up and left our shop,
We walked away, with no more talk.
Stealing away under darkened care,
Together we walked all the way there.
The heat rose from the daytime light,
While familiar noises banged in the night.

We took what we could drag, roll or carry,
We did it together, even if it was scary.
Arriving was not a typical scene,
“You’re a refugee.” What does that mean?
A girl I met had the same story,
There were no more bells, no more glory.

We waited in that place forever it seemed,
We talked knee to knee, in small spaces I dreamed.
Reports came in, they were always bleak,
There was no place to go, no shelter to seek.
Inside the gates, caught between curled spikes,
Out of mind and out of sight.

We finally got news of something good,
We packed our few things, happily with Mom and Dad I stood.
Boarding a big plane, it rumbled up high,
Into the night we flew, below dark as the sky.
“Where are we going?” I asked my Dad,
Looking off in the distance, a little sad.
He smiled and said “Somewhere beautiful where we can live free.”
“Welcome to Canada!” The man greeted happily.
I nodded and thought, “Feels like home to me.”

Complacent

Pieces of people walk,
They pass and they glow.
Open books, filled up with talk.
Hopeful we all know,
Know that there is more.
Lifestyles built on a hollow core.

We pass on open roads,
Practical and passive,
Bearing secret loads.
The gap grows, it is massive.
Plugged into lives dictated to be free,
While invisible forces of spirit divide you and me.

We trowel for diamonds in the dirt,
Searching with broken tools and sun cracked eyes.
Amid all the shroud of veiled hurt,
A child’s voice muffled, silencing all their old cries.
Goals lost to political treason,
Hate falls, halting all for no reason.

Flickers of light stain the side of turned faces,
As unwanted feelings bubble deep inside.
Complacent looks shrug away the traces,
Moods dampened, that we easily hide.
Distractions come by the many, they are plenty.
Not my problem anymore,
Call it someone else’s war.

This is dedicated to all of the heroes who have made my journey every bit possible. To all the people who have opened their homes, lives and hearts to me. I am forever grateful. For every bit of freedom you gave me and all of the hardship you saved me from. Thank you for allowing me to show that the world is a good place. Thank you for reminding a guy on a bike, wherever I go, there will be kind people. I encourage those all over the world to look inside and reach out to people in need. Please welcome those the same way you would want to be. We are all of the same world. Just like you. Just like me. Just like us.

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To join the cause and help give the children of Shuid, Ecuador a safe place to learn, CLICK HERE TO DONATE.

**Here is a recent article by Stacey Roy about my ride and charity from my hometown paper. A big thank you to all of my supporters back home! CLICK HERE TO READ.

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