Monday, April 16, 2012

"His name was Caleb, He called me baby"

…. Honoring the Porters in your life
Reaching Peaks for African Leaders

Last year my friend Kate and I went on a gorilla trek in Western Uganda.  We arrived early in the morning and were greeted by the organizers and guide and introduced to a group of young men who were going to be our “porters”.  Of course Kate and I mentally rolled our eyes a bit… we’re young, we’re strong women, we’re self-sufficient Americans, surely we would not need a porter for our trek!  I then meet Caleb, a polite fellow with a grin that could light up the night who says “I will take care of you baby”….. WOW, this just keeps getting better and better….. now my feminist leanings are screaming – YOU DON’T NEED A PORTER!  Sure enough, it is the “standard” thing to do, so Kate and I comply, and off we go with our new travel mates…. And about 10 minutes into our trek, I am seeing the wisdom and need for Caleb in my life.  Who knew?

He was always there…. There to carry the backpack when it got heavy, there to push me up a steep hill from behind and there to grab my hand and hoist me up when the rocky places were slippery.  There for good conversation about what we were seeing and ensuring I didn’t miss anything, and there to sit quietly and share a meal with.  He was just there through it all and I was grateful.

This experience had me thinking of the other “porters” in my life…. Those colleagues and friends at Eastern who have always been there to share the load.  Of course for my own leadership journey, I think of my colleagues Stan, Peter, Begona and Sharlene.  We were there for each other when we couldn’t see the path ahead as the School of Leadership and Development was created, we were hoisting each other up over the bumpy terrain of NGO partners, we carried each other’s loads and each other’s burdens when we placed mothers and daughters into the arms of Jesus, and we sat quietly and celebrated at resurrected marriages.  We were just there together through it all and I am grateful. 

My students share the same types of experiences with me about our Africa residency programs (  The students create quite the bond during their two years together, supporting and encouraging each other at the residency in Africa, and pushing each other from behind and hoisting each other up over rocky times during their year of on-line coursework.  Time and time again I will hear the stories of the fellow student or professor who was just there helping carry the burdens of a struggling student when life or career takes an unexpected turn.  To hear those stories, to be part of this journey… I am grateful.

How about you?  Can you think of those around you on your journey who have just been there to carry your load, to steady your footing over the sometimes rough terrain we find ourselves on?  Well now is your chance to honor them.  As part of the Kilimanjaro fundraising climb, we’re giving you the opportunity to publicly “honor the porter” in your life.  With your contribution to our African leader scholarship fund, you are not only lightening the load for our African leaders but you're honoring that special person in your life who has done it for you!  Contribute and then write me about it.  Your “porter” will receive a letter telling them all the reasons you’re grateful to be making this journey together! 

For more details see the Kili Climb site: and click on “honor a porter or guide” at the bottom of the page.

Onward and upward!
Beth Birmingham

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.