NORTHERN KENYA — Kenya, in east Africa, is home of the Maasai.
On the savannah, among the wild animals, a group of American children is following through on a promise. These wealthy kids from the American suburbs are in Kenya delivering a most unique gift — cows — 80 head in all.
“These cows, in American money, cost about $100, but that's just about the same as these tennis shoes now,” explains 12-year-old Daniel Heins as he points to his footwear. “But it means so much to the Africans here. Just $100 can give so much pride and respect to them.”
The kids could have simply raised cash and sent it over and felt good about themselves. But the reality is, in this part of the world, a portion of the money would have been siphoned off to corruption. And another portion would have been wasted on a popular vice here — booze. This way, the kids realize, dollar for dollar, their money is going to be spent where they intended — to buy cows.
“We have never seen somebody come and just give a cow like that,” says Rebecca Lolosoli, a Maasai tribal member who received the gift.
The answer lies back in Virginia, at the private Langley School. Joseph Lekuton is not only a social studies teacher there; he's also a Maasai warrior — the only one in his village who made it all way to Harvard University.
His mother says she sold 72 cows to finance her son's education. Lekuton says he thinks every day about the sacrifice others made.
“I think that the fact that I was put through education by my family selling their cows, I think I should put service back to my people,” he says.
“He's always caring about others,” says 12-year-old Cary Garfinkel. “He's already done his part of himself. And he just wants to give back to what these people did for him.”
And he's doing that with his American students here in Kenya, who are learning to give from a man who has made the most of what he received.
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