Thursday, March 24, 2011

It Happened On The Way To War



“Rye Barcott’s engaging and candid memoir on the catalytic power of participatory development shows us that, whether we are in the slums of the world’s biggest cities, in rural Haiti, or on college campuses, we can learn from Tabitha, Salim, and Rye—a nurse, a community organizer, and a young Marine living in urban poverty—about how to fight extreme privation and bring about lasting change.” —Dr. Paul Farmer, professor, Harvard Medical School, and co-founder of Partners In Health

Bloomsbury USA, 2011 - 352 pages

Three Cups of Tea meetsOne Bullet Away in this inspiring, literary memoir by a young Marine who finds his calling empowering youth in one of the world's largest and most volatile slumsIn 2000, 

Rye Barcott spent part of a summer living in ten-by-ten-foot shacks in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. He was a 20-year-old college student heading into the Marines, and he sought to better understand extreme ethnic violence something he would likely face later in uniform. He learned Swahili, asked questions, and listened to young people talk about how they survived in poverty he had never imagined. 

Anxious to help but unsure what to do, he stumbled into friendship with a widowed nurse, Tabitha Atieno Festo, and a tough community organizer, Salim Mohamed.It Happened On the Way to Waris the gripping story of this unlikely trio's journey to build a nongovernmental organization that would develop a new generation of leaders from within one of Africa's largest slums. 

Their organization, Carolina for Kibera (CFK), is now a global pioneer of the movement called participatory development. Timemagazine called CFK a "Hero of Global Health," and dignitaries such as Melinda Gates and Barack Obama have visited to see its best practices. CFK's greatest lesson may be that with the right kind of support, people in desperate places will take charge of their lives and create breathtaking change.

Engaged in two seemingly contradictory forms of public service at the same time, Barcott continued his leadership in CFK while serving as a Marine human intelligence officer in Iraq, Bosnia, and the Horn of Africa. Struggling with the intense stress of leading highly trained Marines in dangerous places, he took the tools he learned building community in one of the most fractured parts of Kenya and became a more effective counter-insurgent and peacekeeper. 

This is a true story of sacrifice and courage, failure and triumph, and the powerful melding of military and humanitarian service. It's a story of what America's role in the world could be.