“Did you enjoy your safari?” This is what people ask me when I say I went to Africa. My answer? “I didn’t go on safari, but what I did was wonderful all the same!”
I didn’t know much about Africa before my first trip in 2014. My daughter Kori and I went with our local church on the first of what would become many visits to a small village in Kaihura, Uganda. In 2017, I got to return with my wife Chris.
Win, Raphael (a village Elder) and Greg taking break from the water project
Cisco provides employees with 40 hours above and beyond their normal PTO for what’s called Time2Give. It’s pretty open-ended, and it’s up to the individual to use it for the cause they feel is most important. This shows the character of Cisco – not only are we given substantial time to give back or give to others, but we are trusted to use that time in the way that will mean the most to each of us individually.
Corporate charity is really important (and Cisco does SO much in that area), but when you can focus on the cause that means something to you personally, it just might set your heart on fire.
So no, I didn’t get to go on a safari, but I did see and do some amazing things!
We spent time with local schools, teaching lesson plans and playing with the children on the playground. We made so many new friends!
Teaching a lesson at St. Mary’s Primary School
We helped out local orphanages, cooking, cleaning, building new buildings and spending time with teachers who take care of the wonderful kids.
We worked on a water delivery system that provides fresh, clean water to people who might otherwise have to walk miles (yes miles!) to get polluted water.
Prepping the water pipe
2017 was my second trip, but it was the 5thth for my church to go back to the same tiny village in Kaihura. Why would we go back year after year to the same dot on the map? Why not spread out and cover more ground?
One reason – it’s the people. When you come back year after year, they get to know you, and remember your name, and look forward to your return. You are honored with a level of trust that can’t happen on a single visit. They start to think of you as part of the family. This opens up opportunities you wouldn’t get on a single visit.
Seeing old friends again in 2017
Cisco provided this opportunity by encouraging me to spend a week doing something bigger than my day-to-day job. Just like the villagers in Kaihura, Cisco considers me part of its family. They trust me to take a week away from work to do something meaningful and important to me. They know that passionate employees can do great things!
And just like my new family in Kaihura, my Cisco family knows and understands why consistency is so important. When you become known, you become part of something bigger than yourself. When you do that, you can change the world.
Students at Noah’s Arc Academy greeting us
Greg and Chris meeting our sponsor child Macklin for the first time!
Kori and one of many new friends
Are you looking to join a company that encourages you to change the world? We’re hiring!