epiphanies heard ’round the world…well, at least it’s possible.

What an amazing time we live in…think about it…technology like YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, MySpace, Skype, email, texting, and yes of course, the ever-growing number of blogs out there have completely changed the landscape of the way we live, in a very short amount of time really…I know there is the argument that our lives have sped up too much because of it all, and that we are more isolated in some ways because of it – we aren’t forced to go engage with human beings because we can communicate via computer in so many instances…but in a lot of ways our technology has allowed us to be more connected…we are definitely able to connect and communicate with our compadres in other parts of the world…that’s why it was always so important for me to do a website with my interviews living on it. We could take the project and reach out all over the country and world and see:  how are we all alike?  how are we different?  do we have the same kind of epiphanies?  can we learn from each other and share wisdom no matter what our background, nationality, age, profession and walk of life?

So far, the answer for me is a resounding ‘YES.’  Here is an example how a gentleman from Kenya reached out to share his epiphany – and he did it through Facebook… we could not have reached out to him on the other side of the globe nor he us without the technological world we live in now…more and more our world is shrinking with technology and we are realizing we are more of a real community – a global community.  As Erastus says, we are a ‘Nation of Us.’  We are very unique and different as people and in our experiences, yet we are all very much the same.  This project is proving this to be true, at least for me, in a very tangible, very real way.  Perhaps one day we will get to go see the community Erastus Wambugu is helping and impacting because of his epiphany…but the beautiful thing to me is – we are able to know about it…

note: Erastus found me via Ariane de Bonvoisin’s Facebook page, and when I told her that he had found my site through her and written to tell me his epiphany, she wrote him and sent him copies of her book, The First 30 Days of Change.  It is impacting his community and they are ‘waiting in line’ to read it, as you’ll see below!

Excerpts of our Facebook exchange…

Erastus Wambugu November 18, 2009 at 8:27am

Dear Elise.

First I pass my warm greetings all the way from Kenya and let you know that am doing fine. How are you doing? I wish to share with you a small story about my realization I have faced and congratulate you for a wonderful job you are doing.

Being born in the Ghetto, brought up there and still living there has not been an easy ride. After being lucky to attend college and study Photo-Journalism, I had made up my mind that this was the only way to make money and get out of this poverty. I know what it means to go a day without food and looking for a job the whole day without luck.

After finishing college, I had the opportunity to work with a local newspaper for a period of six months, but it went down, and I was back in search for a job without any luck.

I was so stressed and felt down and wondered how I would survive in this world. I had witnessed some of my friends be killed for engaging themselves in crime. With a lot of time at my disposal, I decided to attend a youth forum that was being held in a Community Center after a friend had invited me. Youths communicated different issues they were facing in the community and how they should look for solutions.

I was interested and kept attending and realized that majority of the guys attending the forum during the discussions didn’t have facts about what they were talking about.  Myths about things misled their lives and they lacked role models. So I felt I needed to be laying out the facts of things every meeting by doing research, and when I did this, the guys would respond positively.

I felt the passion of sharing what I knew with my fellow youths and felt passion for being part of a small change in the community.  Some of the guys were even Primary school drop-outs.

Then two years ago, a community radio station was opened and recruited youths from my community to volunteer as presenters and reporters.  I was among the first pioneers of this and continued highlighting different issues affecting the community at large by engaging them in discussions, finding the solutions and inspiring them. The response has been very positive.  The majority of the people living here lack most of the basic needs in life and lack the information necessary to live a moderate life.

Despite not being paid for what I am doing and having to do small odd jobs to be able to survive, I feel great satisfaction when I meet people and they tell me, “Erastus, I didn’t know about that. Can I get this kind of help?” or “What are my rights?”

I wish you a peaceful moment and looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Take care,

Erastus

Elise Ballard November 20, 2009 at 2:03pm

Dear Erastus,

Thank you SO much for sharing this with me. Would you mind if I posted it on my blog? This is beautiful and I am so happy for you and very proud of you. Keep up the good work, and I will be affirming that your work grows and you will be able to make a nice living at it so that you will have even more energy to reach people and make a difference in this great world of ours. Thank you so much for all you do on behalf of all us, Erastus. You are making the world a better, happier place and that benefits every one of us on this planet.

Take care and talk to you soon…

With great respect, Elise

Erastus Wambugu November 21, 2009 at 8:44am

Dear Elise,

It was nice hearing from you and appreciated very, very much for your loving and caring message from your heart as it gives me more encouragement in my daily work.

It’s my pleasure to give you my blessing to post it in your blog and believe it will touch other souls out there to be part of change in this Nation of Us. I will be looking forward to reading your book when it comes out and hope the publisher can use it. I will be praying also for you to have more strength and power to touch more people in your work.

I promise to keep on with my work and am happy to have a friend like you to be able to share with about my work. I will keep you updated about my work and hope you will do the same. I have also posted some photos about our studio. When you have time, please look at them and see for yourself.

As this industry is becoming competitive and to be effective in my work, I am trying to get some assistance so that I can get more education and some equipment to do enough research.

God bless you and take care.

Enjoy your weekend and keep the fire burning.

Erastus

Elise Ballard November 23, 2009 at 12:23pm

Thank you, Erastus. When I post your letter, I will send you a link to the blog. This week America has a holiday called Thanksgiving. We give thanks for all we have in our lives. I am thankful for this technology to make wonderful friends all over the world and touch beautiful souls like yours and I am thankful for people like you, my friend, that help make the world a better place.

I will be in touch soon…take good care…

light and blessings to you,

Elise

Erastus Wambugu November 29, 2009 at 9:22am

Hey Elise,

You are much welcomed Elise, and I was very glad to hear from you and keeping in touch despite your busy schedule. I will be waiting to receive the link and share it with my family and my workmates here in Kenya.

How did the thanksgiving go?

Did you enjoy it?

Here in Kenya we don’t have a thanksgiving holiday but we celebrate it during Easter Holiday and Christmas Holiday as a great moment to meet my relatives who I have not seen during the year and share our experiences. I uphold my African tradition as I have great respect for the family. You are always welcome to ask me any question, and I will honestly answer you.

Thank you for encouraging words during my work in this part of the world.  I am happy being part of this change that I believe in.  Let us continue being part of this wonderful calling and make a beautiful place to live in, my friend, no matter the challenges we might face every day.

I have just finished yesterday a six month training on Paralegalism, and I will be able to actively teach more on Human Rights among the community members that lack this knowledge.

Have you talked with your friend Ariane recently?

Take care and have a memorable moment,

Erastus

Erastus Wambugu January 11 at 6:00am

I wish to start by wishing you happy New Year 2010.  Last year is already gone and behold we are blessed with a new year that will take our lives to the next level.

I hope you are fine and enjoying your moment.  I am still waiting for you to share with me about the link of your blog.  How is your book writing project gone so far? I can’t wait to read it soon.

By the way, Ariane sent me six copies of her book about the First 30 Days.  It has inspired me a lot as I read it, and I have got many comments from the people I shared the book with.

Many people are waiting on the line (to borrow and read it), and I can’t believe the joy in their faces and how they are talking about it.  It has been a great Christmas gift for me, my friends and my neighbors.

What are our plans for this year?

Hope to hear from you soon.

Erastus

Be cool to be cool

About Elise Ballard

Elise Ballard is the author of Epiphany! a book of inspirational stories, aha moments and exclusive interviews from Random House Publishing
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