“We come to Kenya to climb a mountain.” And does Claire Diaz-Ortiz ever.
A decision to travel around the world for a year with her friend, Lara, forever changes the lives of these two young women. They wrap up their voyage in Kenya, set to run in a marathon. While there, Claire and Lara get connected with the Imani Children’s Home, where they begin a running program for the children and meet Sammy, a young boy whose father is dead and mother has abandoned him.
Claire and Sammy document their journey in “Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption.” It’s a heart-warming tale of love, determination, perseverance, hope, joy, overcoming trials and adversity, and so much more.
Through her past experiences and her journey of meeting and loving these Kenyan orphans, Claire learns a valuable lesson in helping others – true change comes when the volunteer is transformed. We are reminded that when we help others, we are often getting so much more in return.
Claire and Lara quickly fall in love with the precocious Sammy and, over time, develop a plan to bring him to the United States – as a scholarship student to the Maine Central Institute. They must learn how to “parent” a teen-ager as twentysomethings, and often from a distance.
“Hope Runs” is such an uplifting story. It truly encourages us to reach out and help others, but to make sure you’ve truly helped yourself so that you can be a gift to others. Claire often struggles with not being just the “white savior” who comes and goes quickly in these children’s lives. It’s a great reminder to try to make a lasting impact in other’s lives. Sammy’s story, especially, encourages us to keep going, to never give up, to find the good in the bad.
He writes “…Bad and painful moments come and go, and they are all part of the life we are called to live. The best thing we can do is deal with everything as well as possible.”
“Hope Runs” is a raw and honest telling of a story of love and redemption. It’s truly an inspiration. Claire is an inspiration for standing up for those who need help. Sammy is an inspiration that no matter how bad things get, there is always a prize at the end of the race. Just keep running!
Five stars out of five.
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.
For more information on the Hope Runs organization, founded by Claire and Lara, visit www.HopeRuns.org.