• In order for Milton Ochieng’ to go to the United States to attend college, he needed money. He got it: His neighbors in the Kenyan village (with a population of about 1,100 people in 2008) known as Lwala sold chickens and cattle to raise $900 for his plane ticket to the United States, where Mr. Ochieng’ attended and graduated from Dartmouth College and then attended and graduated from Vanderbilt University Medical School. His brother, Fred, followed him to the United States. Together, they raised $150,000 to build a health clinic in Lwala. The Blood:Water Mission, a Nashville, Tennessee-based nonprofit that was founded by Christian rockers Jars of Clay, contributed money to help build the clinic. Its program director, Barak Bruerd, says, “It’s not common to have a couple of village boys come to the U.S. and advocate for a clinic to be built in their country. The fact that they were able to bring so much support to their community is amazing.” Dr. Milton Ochieng’ remembers that when he was young he saw ill people being pushed in wheelbarrows to reach a paved road they could travel on to get medical treatment. In Africa, the American dollar goes far. In its first year of existence, the clinic treated 20,000 patients. Cost: just under $100,000. Dr. Milton Ochieng’ says, “There’s such a sense of love and people feeling they’ve gained so much from the health center. It keeps me going. … It makes you realize how great it is to be a doctor, how great it is to be serving humanity.” The clinic is named the Erastus Ochieng’ Lwala Community Memorial Health Centerin honor of the brothers’ father.
• Sometimes it takes an older relative to teach a kid morality. When Ed Burke was a kid growing up in Chicago, he got a job mopping a small grocery store owned by an elderly black couple at the end of each workday. They kept their money in the bottom of a flour barrel in the back, and they were forgetful and did not keep good records, and so Ed figured that he could take a little money each night and they would not miss it. Therefore, he would reach down into the barrel each night and take some change or a bill or two, never looking to see what he had pulled out because he was so afraid of being caught. He then would put the money in the trashcan, take the trash out, and then take out the money from the trash can. One night, he pulled out two bills, and when he looked at them after taking out the trash, he was shocked to see that they were $20 bills — $40 was a lot of money in the 1920s. He was scared to have that much money on him because if people saw it, they would figure out that he must have gotten it illegally, but he was greedy enough that he did not want to return the money. Therefore, he rented a safe deposit box and put the money in it. A year later, the bill for the safe deposit box rental came to his house, and his aunt got it. Curious, she found out why Ed had a safe deposit box. She did a lot of yelling, she walked her nephew to the bank to take out all the money, and she walked him to the elderly black couple whose money it was and made him return it.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved