Get Inspired: Kinzey Lynch Is Blind — But That Doesn’t Keep Him From Running Marathons

This Drexel student, who has been blind since birth, runs on Kelly Drive every weekend. This is Kinzey’s story in his own words, which I put together for Be Well Philly and Philadelphia magazine based on a run (he is FAST) and interview I did with him.

How to Laugh at Your Worst Days (and Why You Should)

A Q & A with 22-year-old author and nonprofit founder Shane Burcaw in Philadelphia magazine’s Be Well Philly.

From Nairobi to NYC to High School


(photo courtesy of Xavier High School)

Andrew Kiare Mumbi grew up in villages and markets outside of Nairobi, Kenya, but now he lives in Brooklyn. He wanted to pursue his education in the U.S. Through the diligent efforts of Mark Orrs, a PhD in the sustainable development program at Columbia University and a professor at Lehigh University, as well as through the generosity and open-mindedness of Xavier High School and sponsor family Joe Schrank and Laurie Dhue, Andrew is now doing exactly that. Xavier just published an interview with the newest member of their class of 2017, called “The Longest Commute to Xavier.” It’s inspiring that these kinds of broad cultural leaps can be made when people are passionate about making them happen. Thanks to everyone involved with Andrew and with nonprofit organization Harambee USA, which continues, despite all obstacles and odds, to make things happen.

To learn more about the Harambee USA Foundation, which is 100% volunteer-staffed, visit

Kenyan student Andrew Kiare to continue high school studies in NYC

414959_302769176509189_2054276819_o [photo courtesy of Andrew Kiare]

Andrew Kiare, a friend and student in Kenya affiliated with the non-profit Harambee USA, has been offered a full scholarship to to study at the Xavier High School in Manhattan for the next four years. Andrew, who has already been excelling at his studies in Kenya, has been hoping for an opportunity to study abroad for some time now. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Mark Orrs, a PhD in Sustainable Development at Columbia University as well a professor at Lehigh University, Andrew has found housing with the very generous Joe Shrank and Laurie Dhue in New York while he continues his studies. This is an incredibly exciting instance of cultures coming together for a greater good. Studying abroad can change a person and expand their vision beyond the scope of their immediate life, no matter what culture they come from. The opportunity for a smart and motivated teen from a developing country like Kenya to be able to have that experience is even more valuable, however, because he can take his experiences back to his country and be a force for change and development there, where change and development are already brewing. Another friend, Michael Mungai, was given a similar opportunity with a college scholarship at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, my alma mater, and he is now completing his masters degree and writes for The Huffington Post, with plans to move back to Kenya this coming year. Congratulations to Andrew, Mark Orrs, and Xavier High, and everyone who continues to take big, fearless steps where other people would balk and claim “impossible.”

Kenya: Harambee Aquaponics Project

Interesting video describing the attempted project by Harambee USA in Dagoretti in Kenya: “Our mission is to use technology in sustainable agriculture coupled with a community-based business model to provide low-income families access to fresh produce and protein. Simultaneously use agriculture as a means to improve community organization through alternative work opportunities and strengthening relationships between businesses and consumers.”

The Beginnings of the Harambee Aquaponics Project

Harambee USA is involved in trying to establish a sustainable economic system for the center in Kenya with the new Aquaponics project.

“The pilot program of this project is to install a fully-functioning aquaponics system at Harambee Youth Kenya. Aquaponics is a recirculating system that connects hydroponic grow beds with a fishery in order to replicate a miniature ecological system as an agricultural method. The project utilizes reused materials to build the system’s structure and uses a finite amount of water and low amount of energy to run the system–making it environmentally sustainable and ideal for the conditions of East Africa.”

These and other projects exist in progress to seek out ways to fund an affordable and economically viable shelter for the boys of Harambee USA that doesn’t rely on unstable European and American donation. True change has to happen locally for it to stick, and projects imposed from above often hurt rather than help developing economies. With these and other self-sustaining projects, hopefully solutions can be found for the continuing problem of alleviating poverty without overstepping natural growth and domestic solutions.