I recently was in in extremely Northern Kenya near the Ethiopian border on Lake Turkana for a few weeks with Dr. Louise Leakey, Deming Yang of Kenya National Museum, and my colleague Gonzalo Martinez for an Autodesk research project. It changed my perspective on the world, and life.
Some blog articles on the research project.
Capturing Ancient Remains in Kenya with a Remote Octo-Copter
Autodesk Octo-Copter Video of Kenya
Back from Kenya
I Kissed a Giraffe, and I Think I Liked It...
Never Sleep Near a Hyrax
3D Fossil Exploration in a Virtual Laboratory
Hover over images for descriptions of the photos.
The people of Northern Kenya need a helping hand to lift themselves out of the poverty and limited options of just goat herding. There could be the next brilliant engineer, architect or scientist, but they may never get the opportunity to fully live to their potential and make a difference in the world ort their local communicates. They need more than just being manual labor in their life. The proud and humble local people also need help in education so their only skill is not their hard backbreaking labor in a hot poverty and drought stricken area.
One quote from a Ethiopian tribal elder is forever stuck in my mind, he said through a translator through three languages looking at us in our clothes, with cameras, GPS, and a remote controlled copter “you have too much stuff in your life.” He was adorned in minimal traditional tribal clothing, a stick, and a round wood carving to lay his head on to sleep and can move his families shelter in minutes to a new location in search for food and water which they dig in the sand for by hand. They live as they did for thousands of years. Just imagine if he had seen where we live and our homes and all the stuff in them.
These people are extremely resourceful given little materials and I called them the “Ultimate Makers.” In remote regions there are no stores or Home Depots or 3D printers. They find scrap materials, and build what they need. Simply amazing ingenuity and they are really smart.
If I had no obligations in my life, I would dedicate my life to building schools and helping provide a better life for the amazing people and children. Typically only one child per family can go to a cinder block school where they might get some food, but are starving for education and have nothing but old ragged clothes and ancient books. Their siblings sit across the road some without any clothes hoping their brother or sister would pass on the knowledge they learned that day. Some walk 6 hours each way to attend school for an hour of education. We visited two schools while there to tell them they can do and be anything..They need more opportunities and schools and volunteers. It would be amazing to get Khan academy involved in helping educate these children as well as more schools and supplies, even clothes.
You don't have any idea how well we have it compared to some people around the world. Comparing the education in the US and those in Kenya is a great divide as the Kenyans want to learn and don't complain about school conditions, teachers, locker size, homework etc. The Kenyan students attend regardless of all the obstacles and challenges in their life, and they appreciate it and see it as a real opportunity to change their lives and people. The young Kenyan students lucky enough to go to school will walk miles barefoot in hot sand and thorns and perjhaps a scorpion or venomous snake along the way to get to their small cinder block school with no fans or AC just so they can get an education, but I am not sure how many in US or Western world have the same passion for school even though they have so many more opportunities.
If I do one thing that makes me feel like a difference in my life to make a better world besides building my beautiful family and career, I will do everything I can to help the people I met in Northern Kenya and people less fortunate elsewhere around the world. An internal fire has been lit in me.
I am forever thankful for Dr. Louise Leakey for opening my heart and eyes to the world far away and Autodesk for allowing me to participate in the Octo Copter research project in remote Northern Kenya where most people never go. Autodesk is a company known for design, visualization software, technology, and services.
Sincere gratitude to my management and people like Carl Bass, Jeff Kowalski, Amar Hanspal, Brian Mathews, Jon Pittman, and of course the Turkana Basin Institute’s Dr. Louise Leakey who made it all possible for taking our Octo-Copter for testing in remote Northern Kenya. You have forever changed me and given me the goal and fire to do something.
Autodesk is not just about selling software or making profits, but have a very active philanthropic program to Build a Better World. Autodesk is a company with a big heart. We at Autodesk are not just a corporation, but people that really truly care about our world, environment, and its people.
I challenge everyone to try and make a difference to someone else they meet less fortunate to gain an education.