I could go WAY back and recount a recurring theme in my life when I was drawn to helping the underdog (even in sports, I usually have no favored team, but I always appreciate a game well-played, particularly by the team that is behind).

However, to account for my passion to see clean energy, water and sanitation stems from an unusual sequence of episodes in my life between 2000 and 2005 when I was in my final years of active duty in the US Air Force.

My last assignment overseas was as an exchange officer with the RAF in England.  I worked command-and-control systems and, just before I was posted back to the USA, Operation Palliser kicked off in Sierra Leone — if I hadn’t already come to the end of my tour, I would have been able to serve in that action.

Fast forward 5 years, on the other side of a brief stint in Afghanistan the spring after 9/11, and I’m sitting in a church pew, listening to then Bishop Joseph Humper of the United Methodist Sierra Leone Annual Conference telling our congregation about the growing efforts to feed and house the war orphans in Sierra Leone.  This is when I felt a nudge that connected my passion for the underdog, the association with my family’s favorite military posting, and the desire to make a difference–all meeting in a faraway place with an extraordinary need.  I left for Sierra Leone in October 2005 with a small team of United Methodist Volunteers in Mission to go see first hand what the Child Rescue Centre was all about….

This is when I met little Hawa and over 40 other children at the CRC.  She was doing one of her chores, carrying water from the well to the kitchen for food preparation.