In all honesty, it's hard for us to talk about this. We don't want to do it for business purposes. We don't want to do it because it's "in", or to make people like us more. We certainly don't want to do it for "strategic positioning", or worse, manipulation. We choose to talk about it, because it's important. We choose talk about it, because we want all our clients to know they are allowing us travel the world and enabling us to produce some work that can help amazing organizations - all while doing what we love.
So, what exactly is this "passion"? Once a year, me (Simon) and Jordan find an organization that is doing amazing work, but needs a little help in promoting their cause. So we travel to wherever they are, and offer our services - free of charge.
Here are the stories of our travels.
2017 - The Jesus Way Orphanage - Hyderabad, India
We (Jordan, his wife Veronica, my dad, and I (Simon)) touched down in Hyderabad India at 8:00pm local time. Jordan spent most of the 15 hour flight "napping" with his mouth open. I, on the other hand, was in a constant fight to keep my 6'5 frame within the "boundaries" of my tuna-can-like seat. No matter, once we saw the bright smiles of Angel Meagher (who runs the orphanage with her husband Mathew) and her amazing kiddos, Josiah, Brandon, and Desirae, it was all worth it. Angel loaded us up in an amazing yellow school bus with the words "The Jesus Way International High School" painted along the side. It was dark, shockingly dark. I guess I'm used to street lights and bright buildings illuminating the roads. In Hyderabad, there wasn't much. I squinted a bit, as we hit bumps and turns, towards Angel as she began to describe this amazing organization they've been running for 20 plus years. 300, or so, kids live permanently at the orphanage, another 300 come daily for schooling. She told us the "do's and don'ts" for while we were staying there. What time breakfast was, and most importantly, how to avoid being killed by a snake. But nothing she shared, could of prepared me for our first morning.
I did't sleep much. Whether it was reverse jet lag, or the anticipation, I got out of my room about 5 a.m. The temperature was surprisingly cool. The grounds were clean, you could hear faint street noise coming from the newly-built highway just outside the gates. As time passed, I started to hear the distant clatter of children waking, then finally, making their way out. One by one they'd breeze down the stars of this three story complex. An energy and a joy exuded from every kid my eye was lucky enough to catch. They'd form a line, hop in a nearby shower, some would brush their teeth with a standard plastic brush, others would break off a small branch and use that to scrub. Finally it was time for school, and they started in grand fashion.
Rows of 20 or so would stretch across a large part of this 100 acre piece of land. They'd start by singing, clapping, taking attendance. It was one young boy's birthday, Samuel, so he came up to the platform where the teachers would provide instructions for the day, and all the kids sang to him. I'll never forget his smile as they did. Angel had us walk up to the platform after to be introduced to the kids. They all smiled at us, gave us a kind corporate welcome, and led us in one more legendary song. It's not a stretch to say, that I've never seen a group of children more joyful, it's a memory that will forever be stitched in my heart. And once we started to hear their stories of loss, abandonment, tragedy, restoration, hope, healing, and purpose, it started to make sense why.
The daily routine for the children here: Morning assembly, classroom time, lunch, playtime, then more classroom time. Of course, for those who stay at the orphanage permanently, this led to free time, dinner, and, on some nights, corporate prayers. Seemed like most of this kids had their favorite things to do when the time was their own. Epic games of Kabbadi (a high-contact football-like alternative), Kho Kho (a complex variation of tag) and Volleyball would break out. I, you should know, was terrible at all these things, but it didn't keep me from trying and getting very embarrassed by kids a third of my age. Again, the joy from the kids was impossible to miss. Each one would be beaming as they came up and gave high-fives to me or some of their other teammates. They would ask me about life in America, and if I was a "movie star". Of course, when it was time to bust out the old Ursa Mini (camera) and start taking some footage, they all wanted to be in front of the lens, even pushing others aside just to have a moment of glory.
The grounds were absolutely beautiful. The orphanage is only 10, or so, miles outside the very populated downtown of Hyderabad. Though, it could take you 45 minutes by car. It wasn't hard to find something cool to film. There were horses, chickens, beautiful trees, and shrubbery. There were always workers floating around transporting supplies or food. It really was of those scenarios where we could point the camera anywhere and have something majestic captured. So when it came to making a promo-video it was very natural and easy. We just had to let them tell their story.
Any way, I am a proponent of keeping stories short and sweet (I'm pushing that a bit, I know). The last thing I'll mention is what happened on our last day. Angel was gracious enough to usher in all the kids to watch a little re-cap video we able to make of our time there. As they viewed our footage, smiles, laughter, and excitement were as tangible as the floor we were sitting on. Finally, after a loud and thunderous applause, a teacher raised her voice and began to speak. She thanked us for coming, as tears started to flow from every eye in the room. She couldn't of been more kind and gracious, more encouraging or genuine. She was overjoyed that were took the time and the effort to come, and couldn't wait to see how this video would help their amazing organization. I had a few on this trip, but this truly was a moment that will live on forever in me - a moment that will satisfy until our next adventure.