The idea for Two Feet Project was born out of Nakuru, Kenya. Over 15 years ago Stephen Ishmael took his first trip to the continent of Africa and to the beautiful country of Kenya. Since that time he has never been the same. Something changed inside of him. He became consumed by the air, the grass, and the dirt of Kenya. As the African saying goes, “The dust of Africa never leave your feet” and there was no doubt that this country would have a place in his heart for the rest of his life.
During one of his extended stays in Nakuru (one of Kenya’s largest cities) Stephen was living at a boys home that housed over 50 former street boys. One day while they were on their way home from a hike, they crossed a local garbage dump that was receiving a new ”shipment” of trash. As the truck was backing into one of the numerous mounds of refuse, over 30 young men and women emerged from the garbage and started sifting through the muck; hoping to be the first to find that piece of left over food or a small piece of fabric for future warmth.
At the time, Stephen had spent several years in Kenya and had seen his fair share of sickness, hopelessness, and self destruction. But nothing he had seen up to that point prepared him for the images of utter desperation for survival. As he watched the young men and women rummage through the newly unloaded content, the severity of the depravity hit him. Stephen recalls,
“I squatted as I watched the events unfold before me. My heart was broken. I couldn’t breathe. There were so many questions.Where have we gone wrong? Why are there young women and men forced to sift through garbage to survive? How have we let trash of a few become the hope of many? In truly understanding the sight before me, my eyes, for the first time were opened to seeing the realities of what this world had become. That was the last day of my adolescent perception of poverty in the world. My naïve and juvenile view of life was gone forever”!
It was at the moment that Stephen knew something needed to be done. Someone needed to help the youth of this country; to prepare them and put them in a situation where finding hope in a garbage dump would be as unthinkable to them as it is to Americans. Out of that single moment and the aspiration to make a difference Two Feet Project was born.
What if we stopped telling the youth how they should act or do and instead equip them with the ability to change their country from the inside out? What if we break the mold of the typical “aid” organization and instead walk alongside the youth and mentor them toward success? Two Feet Projects goal is to be an organization dedicated to instilling hope and promoting positive change in the youth of Kenya. Empowering vulnerable youth to impact their communities and stand on there own Two Feet.
The origin of Two Feet Project is founded in a passage out of a book titled, “Abba’s Child” by Brennan Manning. The excerpt from the book is seen below. The name itself is derived from the final sentence of the excerpt. Brennan’s words capture the heart of this organization, and ultimately, our desire to equip and inspire others to stand on their own two feet.
The poverty of uniqueness is the call of Jesus to stand utterly alone when the only alternative is to cut a deal at the price of one’s integrity. It is a lonely “yes” to the whispers of our true self, a clinging to our core identity when companionship and community support are withheld. It’s a courageous determination to make unpopular decisions that are expressive of the truth of who we are – not of who we think we should be or whom someone else wants us to be. It is trusting enough in Jesus to make mistakes and believing enough that His life will still pulse within us. It is the unarticulated gut wrenching yielding of our true self to the poverty of our own unique, mysterious personality.
In a word, standing on our own two feet is an often heroic act of love.
- Brennan Manning
Abba’s Child, “Fortitude & Fantasy
Welcome to Two Feet Project.