w: ajleon

Building a Windmill in Africa

Five years ago when I evacuated my unremarkably average life as an unhappy banker, I promised myself that I wouldn’t wait. That I wouldn’t wait to live a life of adventure or to try things that terrified me or to begin new stories with uncertain endings.

And I also promised myself that I wouldn’t wait until I was rich to start changing the world.

So every now and then I would come across a project, or a small NGO or a change maker who were doing amazing things, who were just inches from remarkable but needed a little help.

And I started finding and standing alongside the misfits that were truly changing the planet.

It began with a project in 2008 to raise a few thousand dollars to build a school in South Sudan with my friend Emmanuel Jal, then evolved into humanitarian projects in Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and others eventually culminating to our Instagram-powered project with WaterAid which raised almost $4,000,000 for clean water and health sanitation programs in Malawi last summer.

And today, I want to try something else.

And I’m wondering if you would like to join me.

An experiment in social philanthropy.

The single most common question I am asked is this.

“AJ, I see you doing all these social projects around the world. Can I help?”

Usually my only recourse to simply tell these beautiful and generous souls that they should find people whom they know are doing amazing work and help them carry it through.

But a few weeks ago when my dear friend Jeff Power said that Gambella, a village in Kenya he has worked with for five years (I’ve been out there as well) needed $15,000 for a windmill, which would serve to irrigate the year round crops of 500 families, ensuring that the village would remain self sustaining for generations to come, I thought …

Maybe a small group misfits can combine their efforts to solve one REAL problem on this planet.

The Good Misfit Project. 

The goal of this project is to raise $15,000 in 30 days (in June) to build a windmill for Gambella Village outside of Isiolo, Kenya (a village I have worked in with Jeff in the past, here’s an old video of me being cut off by some wandering camels there two years ago).

This windmill will be Gambella’s last step towards complete self reliance, in other words, no longer needing any form of aid. It would be a graduation present for a village who came together five years ago to create a sustainable future for their children. Specifically, it would allow the village to have water irrigation all year round, drastically multiplying the amount of crops they can grow and sell.

Here’s a video Jeff recorded a couple weeks ago from the exact spot where the windmill will be built.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

How YOU can change the world. 

Instead of doing this fundraising campaign as a solo mission, I’m considering the possibility of partnering with a small group of misfits (maximum of 30) around the globe that want to pitch in to make a tangible difference in the world.

Primarily, I’m looking for individuals who have a local community, and strongly believe that they can host an event in their hometown or produce something locally that would raise at least $500, all of which would go directly to the project.

However, I’ve had a couple coffee shop owners say they would be interested in donating 10 cents per coffee sold that week, an artist offering up work she would sell to her community and a few other neat concepts. So, I am definitely open to creative fundraising ideas that raise at least $500.

Why am I asking for such a small commitment? 

Because I want us to prove that you don’t need a huge presence or an enormous amount of money to make a tangible change in the world.

The idea is to prove that a small handful of misfits can band together, and solve one real problem on the planet.

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If it works, Misfit will host Good Misfit as an annual project, choosing one new tangible problem to solve each year. And if it happens, it will happen because of you. Can you imagine all the problems in the world we could tackle together?

Update: As of now, we have events being produced in Vancouver, Denver, St Ines Valley, North Dakota, Iowa and a couple other places.

Click here if you are interested in becoming a Good Misfit Producer. 

If I become a Good Misfit Producer, what do I receive? 

++ Spotlight on the Good Misfit website

Your event or project will be boldly highlighted on the Good Misfit website in June and beyond. 

++ Your Twitter Handle on a Windmill in Kenya!

For my birthday this year (if this works!), I am traveling to Gambella to attend the celebration ceremony for the windmill, and will personally write your twitter handle on one of the blades of the Gambella Windmill.

++ Video Call with me from Gambella

I will personally do a live GoToMeeting video call with you from Kenya, where Jeff, Melissa and I will introduce you to the lovely people of Gambella.

++ Open Invitation to Join me in Kenya!

All Good Misfit producers will receive an invitation to attend the celebration ceremony of the Gambella Windmill (assuming you have a desire to travel with Jeff, Melissa and I to Kenya!).

++ Getting There First!

Most people wait for things to be fashionable to join them. You will have the honor of being one of the founding Producers of Good Misfit.

++ Gratitude and a Gift from Africa

The love and gratitude of the good people of Gambella village in Kenya. Oh, and if you can’t make it to Kenya, I will personally return from Africa with a gift for you from Gambella.

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If you’re at all interested, take 30 seconds and fill this out, and Jessie will contact you about details within 24 hours.

We all wonder how we can make a real difference. This is not abstract. If you get involved, you will have a direct hand in erecting a windmill in a real village in Africa, which I will report back to you from.

I hope you’ll consider joining us.

From my home in the East Village
Your Fellow Misfit,

AJ

1047 words

5.9.13

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