In October 2018, our founder Akshay Nanavati traveled to Liberia as a part of a global delegation being filmed for a documentary reality TV series. While there, he ran 167 miles in 7 days across the entire country from the Guinea, Liberia border to the capital city of Monrovia to help bring clean water to those that need it, raise awareness for notable projects on the ground and build the 1st sustainable vocational training school in postwar Liberia.
Throughout the run across a nation that had been through a brutal civil war, the Ebola virus and extreme poverty, Akshay witnessed a great deal of suffering and pain. This hit him hard.
Here is Akshay’s video journal from day 1 of his run…
After completing another 25 miles on the second day of the run, Akshay was relaxing outside at the little guesthouse he was staying in when Patrick the security walked over to him. As they shared their stories with each other, Patrick said he felt some spirit connection with Akshay. He then invited Akshay to see his village and meet his family. Patrick told Akshay that they were now his family because they were brothers.
Before leaving the village, Akshay asked Patrick what could be done to help his village. Patrick told him, “I can’t tell you. It’s not for me to tell you. I wanted to show you the place so you know how it is here because this is your home, and how would you help in your own home?”
On Day 5 of the run, Akshay met with Dr. Kimmie Weeks to conduct a water filter demonstration in a local village where they then distributed filters, shoes and school supplies to the community.
On day 7, Akshay crossed the “finish line” of his run by stepping onto the waters of the Atlantic Ocean in Monrovia. Pushing hard with no food and water for the last few hours, Akshay finished his run without joy, but pure relief that the suffering was over.
The next day, while exhausted and under-recovered, Akshay drove back up to Patrick’s village with a small team to distribute school supplies for their classroom. They then performed a ceremony for Akshay officially welcoming him as a part of the family.
TWO WORLDS COMING TOGETHER AS ONE
Amidst all the highs and the lows of experiencing the extremes of the human condition during his time in LIberia, Akshay became very close to his cameraman who was documenting the entire journey, Yudawhere Jacobs.
In the hours and days they spent together, Jacobs told Akshay about his 5 year old son Joe and the hole he had in his heart. Jacobs and his family didn’t have the means, resources or facilities to get Joe the surgery he needed in Liberia, so they just had to live with it. Every day they wondered if that was the day when Joe’s heart would fail on him.
This was just one of many conversations Jacobs and Akshay shared about life, family, God and the struggles that shape us as human beings. None of them could have imagined where the conversation would lead.
Fast forward a few months later…
The Fearvana Foundation and Akshay’s family sponsored Jacobs, his wife Comfort, and Joe’s travel to India along with the hospital bills so that Joe could get the heart surgery he needed to save his life.
For one month, Jacobs, Joe and Comfort stayed with Akshay and his family in their home in Bangalore, India. Two families of different race, religion and nationality came together as one to give a young boy a new heart.
Little Joe went through some tough moments after the surgery, but he never let it break him and kept smiling through it all. Just one day after having his chest cut open, he was climbing up on the hospital bed by himself unwilling to let the pain stop him.
Today Joe is back in Liberia playing soccer and thriving in school. The scar on his chest remains as a testament to his courage and his warrior spirit.
What are the odds that some Indian-born, US Marine decides to go run across a country? And then runs into a man who just quit his job to build his own business as a filmmaker – an act which required immense courage, especially in a country struggling with extreme poverty.
“By some miracle beyond my explanation, Jacobs and I came together as brothers,” Akshay said, “our families have now become one forever.”
Akshay, his family, and The Fearvana Foundation are proud to have played some part in Joe’s life. The entire journey from the US to Liberia to India serves as a profound representation of The Fearvana Foundation’s vision for a united global community that works together as one for the collective good.
As this experience aptly demonstrates, we are all part of one human family. A sign that Akshay saw during day 1 of his run put it best:
“The world is but one country and mankind its citizen.”