East of Eden…
“Isire has just killed his brother.
David Carreon (Nuru Healthcare Program Manger) stared in disbelief at the text he had just received from Nelly, the Kenyan Field Manager for all Nuru’s healthcare programs. He looked up at me with a bewildered look on his face, and just handed me the phone without saying a word. I took the phone and read the message. A sickening, familiar feeling began to grow in the pit of my stomach as I read the SMS.
Isire Fanuel is one of the best Field Officers working for Nuru right now here in the project. He is a dedicated, humble servant leader who has been absolutely committed to improving the lives of his fellow Kurians. As a Nuru Health Field Officer, he is personally responsible for mobilizing, training, and implementing Nuru health solutions to improve the lives of about 90 families in the Kuria District.
That morning, Isire had gone to his shamba (farm) very early to plow in preparation for planting his short rains maize crop. As he worked, Isire’s older brother came charging up behind him and attacked him with a panga (machete). His brother swung the panga wildly – slashing Isire across the face and then across the forehead in attempt to kill him. Isire struggled with his brother, wrestled away the panga, and in desperate anger and fear, slashed back at him – cutting him across the face and neck. The blow proved fatal, and Isire watched helplessly as his brother bled out on the ground…his brother.
Why on earth had Isire’s brother attacked him to try and kill him? What could drive him to do such a desperate thing?
Land…Isire’s brother was desperate to have his land. Here, land can mean the difference between abject starvation, poverty or death of one’s children and a promising future for the family.
This sad act that occurred here in our community was an event that is all-too common in areas of the world like Kuria, Kenya. The death of Isire’s brother was yet another sobering reminder to me of why I am here. A reminder about why I feel so strongly that we, as citizens of the developed world, must engage in the war that is being waged all around us in order to stop the unnecessary injustice and insanity in our world today.
Extreme poverty leads to desperation. Extreme poverty strips a person of his dignity, his opportunities in life, and worst of all…his choice. Those stripped of all choice are left with desperation. Desperate situations cause people to commit desperate acts – good people who love people and love life. I have seen it in the eyes of the extreme poor time and again.
…in the eyes of peaceful cowherders turned warriors crossing the Tanzanian border with bows and poison-tipped arrows hunting the bandits who stole their cattle – the one hope for future income and food for their starving families. And when they find them, they intend to burn the bandits alive.
…in the eyes of a desperately poor Iraqi farmer picking up a weapon he has never even seen before or strapping a vest laden with explosives to his body and running headlong into an American position. Why? Is it out of some misplaced/ignorant sense of hatred for the West and all it stands for? No. It is out of love. Love for his 5 year old daughter and 3 year old son at home who are starving to death. A love that compelled him to say yes to the jihadist that darkened his door that day. The jihadist who promised food and education for his children if he would only sacrifice his life by attacking these men from across the ocean he knew nothing about.
The good news is that there is hope for those without choice. Their plight is not “just the way the world is.” The world DOES NOT have to be this way. Their plight is a rally cry. It’s time to rise up and answer the cry – to give a voice to the voiceless – to give choice to noble men and women who have been struggling for so long.
Join a revolution that has begun…a revolution to give choices to those like Isire’s desperate brother…to the poor Iraqi farmer…to the 14 year old cowherder. The time has come to get in the fight. Join us and give choice back to those who have been crying out in weary desperation for too long.
Be hope. Be light. Be Nuru…
About Jake Harriman
Founder — Jake Harriman is a United States Naval Academy graduate and former Force Recon Marine combat veteran who became convinced that the “War on Terror” can’t be won on the battlefield alone; the contributing causes of violent extremism–specifically extreme poverty–must also be eradicated. After transitioning out of the Marine Corps, Jake enrolled in the Stanford Graduate School of Business to found Nuru International in 2007 with a mission to eradicate extreme poverty in some of the most fragile regions of the world in order to help stop the spread of groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS. Over the next twelve years, Jake and his team grew Nuru to become one of the premier organizations at the nexus of security and development - empowering over 130,000 people with lasting meaningful choices to permanently climb out of extreme poverty in some of the toughest places in the world.Read More Stories of Hope