God had plans for Claire DÃaz-Ortiz and Sammy Ikua Gachagua. Neither one of them dreamt of how each life would influence the other.
In the book "Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption" the story of these two people unfolds as they meet in an orphanage in Kenya. Through the connection that they feel for each other an organization was formed to help this orphanage and school implement and run a running program for the children. Sammy was one of these children. Through their time together each was able to help the other in ways that neither of them could predict.
These two created a unique story where each tells their story in individual chapters throughout the book. It is interesting to see an action unfold from both perspectives. What a wonderful book, once I began it I did not want to put it down.
I was given this book by the authors and bookfun.org in exchange for my honest review.
Sammy is an incredible young man who looks like any other high school graduate desiring to make a difference in the world. He is an athlete, an excellent scholar who speaks at least four languages who recently spent a year in Ecuador as part of Global Citizen Year. Sammy is also a miracle who comes from a life far, far removed from the luxuries of most American high school students, a place where the thought of flying on an airplane anywhere would have been one of many of a young boy's impossible dream. His is a life changed through others' vision, and he also desires to be a catalyst for change.
Claire is an extraordinary young woman in every way. She is hard-working, intelligent, a visionary who sees a need, studies to find how best to meet that need, and has the determination to see it through. Claire and her college friend Lara are world travelers and partners in helping those who need help or finding a means with which to help them. Claire's travels and work with Lara changed her from a loving, extraordinary young woman to a loving, extraordinary young woman who accepts the challenge to change and grow even as she becomes a catalyst for change.
Brought together through God's will and plan, the three of them are an example of what the Lord can do when one has hope. Or when two set up a non-profit group named Hope Runs, as Claire and Lara did. Hope Runs is an organization that currently helps students at a Kenyan orphanage where Sammy had been a student. It provides athletic training to students at the orphanage and scholarships to university for those who want it who also demonstrate their successful completion of high school. Hope Runs is the recipient of the proceeds of this book, making it a true work of love by Claire Diaz-Ortiz and Sammy Ikua Gachagua.
During their world travels, Claire and Lara went to Kenya to climb Mount Everest and move on. While there, they received reasonable accommodations at the orphanage where Sammy lived. After meeting the children at the orphanage, especially Sammy, they spent a year rather than just long enough to do the climb. Claire and Lara put together a program to train students athletically who want to run, and study the needs of those at the orphanage.
Sammy had been orphaned, homeless at a tender age. He and his brother lived at the orphanage and received schooling, while his sister lived with one of their aunts. Sammy knew that the orphanage was possibly the best his life would be until he becoming an adult. He, like many in the orphanage, learned to protect his heart and not grow close to those who came to the orphanage to help. It was too easy to love some of the volunteers who would one day pack up and return to life in the US.
This is an incredible book about change, about God's work in our lives, and about what believers with a vision can accomplish to change lives. Both Claire and Sammy are excellent writers, bringing a compelling read to that I would highly recommend to young adults and adults of all ages. It would make a great gift for graduation or even for someone who has a dream but is afraid to act on that dream. Sammy, Claire, and Lara are unique people that we will hear more of in the future; they are part of our future in this country, in Kenya, and around the world.
I received a copy of this book through the "For Readers Only" group at The Book Club Network, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.
An interesting story of people told from their alternating viewpoints - from before they met, through the time their lives intersected and then how their lives were changed through their meeting. I found Sammy's viewpoint fascinating - how people, especially short term missionaries, come in, take lots of pictures and then leave, without really trying to get to know the people. I also found his experiences coming to the United States interesting. The hard part for me was how easily the authors seemed to just run 26 miles like it was no big deal! I guess I like reading more than running! I received this book from bookfun.org in return for my honest opinion.
"Hope Runs" is a beautiful memoir written by Claire Diaz-Oritz and Samuel Ikua Gachagua. They each take a turn throughout the book giving their side of their story. There is much to be learned about life from an orphaned homeless boy in Kenya and a college aged woman that is traveling around the world.
When these two meet Claire thinks that she is there at the orphanage to help them, but she is amazed to realize how much she is learning from the children! As Claire and Sammy develop a close friendship they both realize that some of their stereo-typical beleifs about each other's countries, and lives, are very wrong. For example, to Sammy, telling a woman that she looks "fatter" is a large compliment, but to an American woman, that is an insult...so although they struggle a bit with cultural differences they eventually become very close.
Claire's has a huge desire to bring Sammy to America and give him a chance that few Kenyan orphans ever get. A chance at a better education, and a chance to have an American family. This is a sweet story that contains a fair amount of information about life in Kenya what it can be like to truly be "hungry" for food, and also for love and acceptance.
I received this book from "The Book Club Network" in exchange for my honest opinion.
This is a touching story of the way God weaves together the lives of individuals from vastly different cultures and life experiences to create something valuable and greater than those involved. It is also the story of young people "growing up", finding their voice and purpose in life, and the human need to find fulfillment through helping others. It is ultimately the story of the power of the human spirit and the transformation possible through the love of God and the love of others. Through alternating chapters, the author tells her story of searching for something she can't quite put her finger on and the tale of the struggles of a young African boy to first survive and then find his place in the world. As the two stories intersect, we see the wonderful hand of God working through the events and "coincidences" of ordinary life and what can happen when love and faith take precedence over cultural and economic differences.
Sammy's story humbles those of us who have so much and yet dare to complain. His early years are spent hungry, abandoned, and physically abused, but his unquenchable spirit keeps him tenderhearted toward the needs of his companions and optimistic about the future. One of the most poignant moments was when the homeless and desperate child reaches into the pocket of his jacket and finds a candle. "Even though we go to bed that night without eating and aren't sure where our mother is, finding that candle makes me feel that God is up there looking out for us." He explains how the concept of "family" plays out in his life and at the orphanage: "Even though people might not have a blood family, they take whatever is available and make a family for themselves."
Claire's story is one that helps illustrate that true humanitarian relief can't come in short spurts of charity and mission trips. Her college thesis and her world view contend that : "by having one cross-cultural experience, then another and another, these volunteersâ€”if given the right tools to recognize the importance of what they themselves are actually learning----have a good chance of one day doing something that can hopefully make things a little better." The value to the local people is not in "those three months building a church or two but in the possibility that those three months can transform the VOLUNTEER into someone who gives for life." She explains that her work is "about helping organizations see this and making their programming more sustainable in the process." She is full of good intentions but doesn't make a difference until she is completely and emotionally invested in the lives of individual people where they are. It is significant that when she decides to spend a year at the orphanage she first asks the local elders what they would like her to do there.
Then Claire meets Sammy, and the rest of the story demonstrates the growth and support of both of these young people in the unusual family they form. I wonder if we appreciate the tapestry of people the Lord has woven together in our own lives.
I received this book through Book Club Network and the opinions are mine.