Season 3
40 Minutes

112 | Laurie Pickle Evans & Ian McCluskey | When Kids in Africa Become Your Mission

Laurie Pickle Evans is a former partner in a Miami law firm. Ian McCluskey is a veteran journalist and thought-leader champion who served as a South American correspondent for Time Magazine and the Sao Paulo Bureau Chief for Bloomberg news. Their current life looks little like their past acts.

Laurie founded Afrikids, a Miami-based nonprofit that is dedicated to helping educate and improve the lives of kids in Tanzania. Laurie and Ian met 6 years ago, became romantic partners, and Ian now serves as the Communications Director for Afrikids. How does a hugely accomplished professional couple juggle collaborating with partners in Africa and supporting a vital nonprofit organization?

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Laurie Pickle  00:00

Our goal was to get the children a good secondary school education. And we started by sponsoring six children and finding a good school for them. And that’s when we met. Probably the most important person for Africans which is a gentleman named could toy who works for us now on the ground in Tanzania. We knew him as a safari guide. And he became the person on the ground and helped us find the proper school for these six children at that time.

Achim Nowak  00:34

Hey, this is Achim Nowak, executive coach and host of the MY FOURTH ACT Podcast. If life is a five act play, how will you spend your FOURTH ACT? I have conversations with exceptional humans who have created bold and unexpected FOURTH ACTS. Listen, and to be inspired. And please rate us and subscribe on whatever platform you are listening on. Well, let’s get started. I am very happy to welcome Laurie pickle Evans and Ian McCluskey to the MY FOURTH ACT podcast. Laurie is a former partner in a law firm in Boca Raton here in Florida. Ian is a veteran journalist, thought leader champion and corporate storyteller. Both have an entirely different next act in their loss, which is one of the many reasons why I wanted to speak with them. Laurie founded African’s, a Miami based nonprofit that is dedicated to helping educate and improve the lives of kids in the Arusha Region of Tanzania. Laurie, and Ian met a little over six years ago, became romantic partners. And II in these days serves as the communications director for Africa, kids. So you joined a cause that was started by Lori, that interests me in many, many ways. So welcome, Laurie, and Ian.

Laurie Pickle  02:04

Thank you.

Ian McCluskey  02:06

Thank you, again, great to be with you.

Achim Nowak  02:08

So look forward to this conversation. I want to spend a bunch of time talking about Africans. But before we go there, I always had this thought, Well, neither one of you probably envisioned when you were growing up that you would be part of something called African. So Laurie, take me back to when you were a young girl, a teenager and you know, mom and dad want to know what you want to do with your life. Like, how did you answer that question?

Laurie Pickle  02:33

I grew up in Ohio, and we had horses, and my passion all through middle school, high school was horseback riding, showing competing on horses. Yeah, my middle school in high school had this most incredible art department. And I was very involved in art in high school and my horses. So that was really what my childhood my teenage years revolved around. When I went to college. My first year, I was an art major. I realized that really wasn’t what I wanted to continue doing. But I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I went into business thinking, anything I can do, you know, I can use that degree for all kinds of things. I didn’t really have a passion, I thought I would just always have horses and be an equestrian and maybe be an artist someday. When I got out of college, I decided to go to law school. brought me to Miami. And fast forward. Here I am.

Achim Nowak  03:28

I’m chuckling because you realize going from art and horses to law school is not an obvious leap right.

Laurie Pickle  03:35

Now it was it was quite a giant leap. But it was a great leap.

Achim Nowak  03:39

And we’ll talk later about art because one of the beautiful things in your life is that art is back and what you do and can’t wait to talk about it. When you were younger fellow, what were you thinking about? As you thought about your grown up life?

Ian McCluskey  03:53

Yeah, no horses in my life. But I was really good at languages, unlike anybody else in my family. My parents and my brothers and sisters included. I was always thinking about living in other places. I didn’t think about traveling. I mean, traveling to me seems superficial. What I was interested in was living in other places. So I moved to France when I was 19 for a year and then and studied French and then I moved to Brazil. So I did an international business degree in Phoenix, Arizona, but I’m from Canada. So that got me out of the cold and Canada took me to a completely different culture ended up in Brazil and Chile and I ended up back in Miami 20 years ago, but spent a lot of time living abroad and that’s what I wanted to do. And that’s what I ended up doing.

Achim Nowak  04:39

Nice. I appreciate that deep motivation. I went to Arizona because of the weather so

Ian McCluskey  04:45

well, it was a pleasure. Ya know, it’s

Achim Nowak  04:46

deeper than that.

Ian McCluskey  04:48

No, no, it wasn’t it was a pamphlet that fell out at the library one day in Toronto when it was in February and it was called Sun Valley. It turned out to be a wonderful business school, the Thunderbird business school but In a place called Sun Valley, which in Toronto in February is very appealing.

Achim Nowak  05:04

I have been in Toronto in February, it can be brutal. I want to briefly talk about your previous careers before we go to Africans. And Laurie, you and I had a pre chat before this. I love it because you made it clear to me that you are probably one of the few lawyers I’m paraphrasing who said, who actually really love being a lawyer. What is it that you enjoyed about practicing law? What was that?

Laurie Pickle  05:27

One of my passions when I got out of law school, and during law school, was I did an internship at public defender’s office, I enjoyed criminal law, I sort of had this belief that I could help and save the world possibly through being a lawyer and I could do all these wonderful things. I went into private practice, I worked at a small firm that did criminal law work. And we also did personal injury work. And I sort of felt we were helping the underdogs in both those areas of law. And I did that for about four or five years. And then when I decided I want to have a family, I realized that being a litigator, being at the mercy of a judge’s orders and rules and calendars difficult to have a family. So I switched and I switched to do sort of corporate transactional work, that transition was actually wasn’t easy, but it worked better to have children and have family

Achim Nowak  06:27

hopefully make the leap now, because I understand the family part. But you know, going from that to let me do some work in Africa is another not obviously with you. We’re going from equestrian law and then you go to Africa helped me make the leap from Boca Raton to I want to do some work that’s really socially important Africa. How did that start?

Laurie Pickle  06:49

It actually wasn’t Boca Raton. It was Coral Gables. Oh, sorry. That’s okay. We had two offices. And we did have a sub office, a smaller office in Boca Raton that I would commute to a few days a week. My ex husband’s family business is based in Africa. So when we went on our honeymoon in 1983, it was the first time I ever traveled abroad. The first time I had ever been to Africa. Well, obviously, I’ve ever been to Africa. And I fell in love with Africa. I fell in love with the people. We did an incredible Safaris. We lived in a house there and got to meet lots of people in the community. We were in Kenya. Fast forward. We took our children when they graduated high school, both of those children picked that as their place to go for their high school graduation trip. And in between that I had traveled to Africa for many, many years. But I had not gotten involved in the education of the school children until my oldest daughter went to Tanzania. As she was volunteering through a program after she graduated college. She did her backpack abroad through Europe with her then boyfriend now husband, and they went through a volunteer company and spent a month volunteering at a small little school in Tanzania. And that sort of jump started are Africans.

Achim Nowak  08:12

I’m also just getting such a picture of how your daughter certainly wasn’t introduced to Africa from a young age on and found that clearly was part of her life. Now, what was the first project you undertook? Did you come up with what Africans who created that just take us to the very, very beginning.

Laurie Pickle  08:29

We went my daughter and Bobby her husband talked about this small school described it in an area called Oosa river which is just outside of Arusha. It was a trees with plastic tarp around it and some rugs on the ground. And that was a classroom. And it was all preschool students. And they talked about bringing the children in and teaching and how they had to go to the store to buy paperboard, the right letters and things like that. They just fell in love with the children. They left coming home talking about how they wanted to take two of the children and put them in an English curriculum type school. We went back my ex husband and I went back several months later, to visit the school while we were doing some work in Africa, or in Tanzania, got to meet the children and got to meet the director and saw this huge need at this very poor impoverished school and got involved that way.

Achim Nowak  09:26

One more question before we bring him into the conversation. So got involved. Did that mean we’re sponsoring a child or two? We’re supporting them for the next educational step? Is that what it looked like?

Laurie Pickle  09:39

Yes. So we there were six children that were ready to leave the preschool and go on to what they call primary school. Those six children. We put them in an English curriculum boarding school, where they could get three meals a day where they would live at the school where they had dorms They would get an English curriculum to school. So primary school is very important to be taught in English if you can, because when children leave Primary School in Tanzania and go on to secondary school, they switch from Kiswahili in the government school to English. And that’s when they lose all of the children. There is about 30 some percent of students in Tanzania that ever graduate from secondary school, which is sort of our elementary school. So that’s when most of their students drop out of school. So our goal was to get the children a good secondary school education. We started by sponsoring six children and finding a good school for them. And that’s when we met probably the most important person for Africans, which is a gentleman named cook toy, who works for us now on the ground in Tanzania. We knew him as a safari guide. And he became the person on the ground and helped us find the proper school for these six children at that time,

Ian McCluskey  11:00

can I just interject one little point, it’s super important the time these six kids started with, and others that joined the program later, are from extremely poor backgrounds, yet most of them are orphans. Some of them have lost one parent to aid and some to parents, and some have just been abandoned. So all these kids were in extremely dire conditions and situations now, and we won’t talk about this now. And later, we will these kids are now 1718 and 19 years old, they’re still in the Africans program. There’s a lot more kids in the Africans program.

Achim Nowak  11:34

Before we continue that for kids, I’m glad you just chimed in. For our listeners, I know he in socially in Miami, and I have appreciate it. Just what a great expansive thinker, you are, among many other things. But part of interviewing, I did a little bit of research, I knew about your background. But I’m gonna throw some you already mentioned your interest in languages and other cultures. You mentioned Chile, that you were I didn’t know this, the South American correspondent for Time magazine for a while you were there, some public bureau chief for Bloomberg News. So this is my very traditional media. And then you moved into managing more sought leadership enterprises in some of them based in Miami. So if you think back about and Because suddenly, I’m connecting the dots, and you can see all of this is really helpful for Africans and the work you’re doing right. But take us back to what’s a moment that stands out for being a journalist in Latin America as a Canadian born who went to Sun Valley, and then you suddenly were living in working South America, which is not an obvious journey, either.

Ian McCluskey  12:41

Yeah. You mentioned Time magazine. I think that the five years I spent as a correspondent for Time Magazine, were probably the the high. It’s a great organization. It used to be the pinnacle of print journalism in the United States. And in Latin America, time was everywhere, super respected. So it opened every door imaginable. But I got to do some of the craziest stories. I remember once getting a call from editor in New York, and love this guy had come from People Magazine, and he said to me in, I’m imagining a tree growing up through the asphalt, abandoned highway in the Amazon. Can you find that spot for me? And I said, Absolutely. You know, I’ll get right on it. I mean, he wanted stories from the remotest parts of the country. Number one story was probably the best two weeks of my journalism career. I was in the Amazon hanging in a hammock for 10 days, with a New York Times photographer, and we were waiting out to see if we could discover and see this tribe, or this isolated Tribe of Indians that had been spotted in the region. And so we were there with Indian fraggers, and so on for 10 days. It was amazing, right? But it was really uncomfortable and hot. And the food we killed, I mean, like trackers killed wild turkeys. And we roasted that over a fire. Anyway, it was quite an extraordinary experience. But after 10 days, I just wanted to get back home, which was Brasilia, where I live the capital of Brazil, and we’re in western Amazon. So we took a 12 hour truck ride out to the nearest airport in Cuiaba. And I phoned in to the admin and have cell phones back there was 1994 or five, we didn’t have cell phones. So I call this time office and they said, Oh, my God, we’re so glad you you called in. Could you please go we need you in the Galapagos Islands on Wednesday. This was because there was an uprising in the Galapagos Islands. The locals were threatening to kill the tortoises and blah, blah, blah. And I said, Absolutely not. I’m really tired. I want to go home. I want to sleep in my own bed. I want to have a bath. No, thank you very much. And I hung up the phone. And then I realized that was the stupidest thing I’ve ever, ever said to anyone. So I call him right back and said, Of course I’ll be there. So I flew to Brasilia and then from there I flew to San Paolo from the Are the Keto from Quito to Waiakea? From Why kill to the Galapagos Islands? Before reading, I had no idea what Galapagos Islands really were, I’d never thought of going there. So anyway, and I spent a whole week there. I mean, driving around on my boat, my bicycle and taking boats to various islands and interviewing people. That became a great story and Time Magazine. To me that was like living the the ultimate foreign correspondent life. I didn’t have to cover wars or massacres, but extraordinary adventures.

Achim Nowak  15:27

Well, thank you for that wonderful snapshot. I am thinking about living life in extremes. We’re all in Miami now, which is where spoiled we have good lives here. And you both been in parts of the world where doesn’t look that way. I was thinking as you were talking, when I lived in Tobago, like, every single morning, when I woke up, there might be water, or there might not be and you never knew. And I began to appreciate like the pleasure of just having a shower, you know, that I took for granted when I lived in the United States, I want to take us to Africans. you two met what I call the modern way, because you two have known each other for a while you are a romantic couple. And you also play together and Africans. Now. What Why don’t you just tell us how you two met? Well,

Laurie Pickle  16:17

I’ll tackle that one. Yes, I had been divorced or separated for several years. It’s difficult meeting people in Miami in a romantic way or meeting men because I didn’t really want to go to bars and hang out do that. And my friends all said, we’ve introduced you to everybody, we know nobody’s single. My daughter said you should go on She got one of her friends to come over and help me do my profile. And there’s a secret little button you can push and keep your profiles secret. I felt very comfortable. I could look and see who I wanted to converse with. They couldn’t until you do that. They don’t get to see your profile. And I when I read Ian’s bio, he was an athlete because he’s a marathon runner. And he talked about how he lived all over the world, which just totally intrigued me and was very important to me. He talked about his children and that type of thing. So we had a few conversations and very just through the chat, and then I think he said, Well, can I call you? And I said Well, no, but you could text me. We had a couple texts and pictures going back and forth. And then he sent me a picture from a marathon. He was running with his son. And I went to my daughter’s house and I said, you know, this kid looks so familiar. Who was that? Who was your friend and in high school, and they went to very small high school. And she goes, You mean, Alec McCluskey? And I said, Well, I kind of have a date with his dad two days. And she was like, Oh my gosh. And of course he immediately Texas on and improve the comfort level a lot because I had known his son for a long time. And he had spent a lot of time in our house. And that sort of made the first date a little more comfortable. And

Ian McCluskey  18:04

yeah, our kids are responsible, really for us in lots of ways. Yes.

Achim Nowak  18:08

So I’m curious. But how did your kids react when they realized, Oh, Mom and Dad are gonna go on a date with each other. What was that? Like?

Laurie Pickle  18:16

Samantha texted my daughter. Samantha texted his son. And it was immediately like, oh, my god, are you kidding me? Oh, you know, they thought it was great. And we’ve since had family Christmases with all the kids around and everything’s Yeah. It’s wonderful.

Achim Nowak  18:32

Yeah, you meet this woman. And she has this thing called Africa kids, right? And you’ll learn about Africans, like, maybe walk us into so what did you learn about Africans, the more Laurie introduced you to it, and what got you interested and excited and Africans, because that could have just been Lori’s baby. Right. But you clearly got excited about the purpose of this project? Well,

Ian McCluskey  18:56

I always thought it was a great story. Because it’s this grassroots organization that a family created. They really hadn’t told the story. They had no interest in telling the story. They were happy to sponsor a bunch of kids at that point. I think there were 37 kids and their friends were all pitching in. And so yeah, it was Lori’s baby. I didn’t really get involved. And Laurel explained from her part, but the pandemic changed everything for both of us. It’s what led to the creation of art for Africa, kids, and it’s what led to my and getting involved in Africans. because up till then I was working full time and Pandemic crashed a lot of businesses, and mine was one of them. I mean, I was at the time working for a company based in Spain, but running the Americas division, it was called Thinking heads and you’re familiar with that organization, at least 50% of their business as a speaker agency. So for you know, we had celebrity speakers, ex presidents of ex CEOs and ex presidents of countries who we would accompany to events, conferences all over The Americas, it was really fun. I was busy all the time, though. So when Laurie went off to Africans, or Tanzania once a year, I said, you know, bon voyage and look forward to seeing your pictures and so on. But I didn’t get super involved until March 12 of 2020, when my business came to a screeching halt, and then Lori will tell you her part, but that’s what got me involved. And I started saying to Laurie, look, you what you’ve got here, what you’ve created here is amazing. But nobody knows about it. Except for you and your family, your friends, we need to tell some people, because if we do a nice website, which I helped our I created with Lord’s help, you know, I did the website, and then we created an Instagram. Everybody wants to see pictures of, you know, beautiful children. Now we have the full panoply of communications tools. It’s amazing what the response has been. Yeah, I mean, we haven’t necessarily ask people for donations, but they come because it’s a great story. And before we forget to say this, you don’t 100% Of all the money that’s comes in to Africa, 100%, including all the money that comes in through art for Africans and Loreal. Talk more about that in a sec. It’s supposed to pay for education for right now. 102 kids. So I got involved three years ago, and Laurie became also much much more involved three years ago when we created something called Art for Africans.

Achim Nowak  21:28

A word from your sponsor. That’s me. I invite you to go to the website associated with this podcast Fourth, you will find other equally inspiring conversation with great humans. And you will also learn more about the my fourth act mastermind groups where cool people figure out how to chart their own fourth acts. Please check it out. And now back to the conversation. Let’s talk about art for Africans. So obviously Africans is in there. The art relates to your early passions and I love Well, I’ll let you tell the story Laurie because it is to me it’s also Miami story. Oh, there’s a Miami touch to what you’re creating art wise, would you describe to us what it is you do?

Laurie Pickle  22:23

So art for Africans, what we create our we have we take seashells and we through different techniques paint and decor posh.

Ian McCluskey  22:33

We shouldn’t say we Lord, it’s really

Laurie Pickle  22:34

myself, Lord, I do the artwork, and does all the other things. But he helps me clean the shells and we get them. He helps me organize the shells. Find the shells. Yeah, so it really started during COVID We’re going on walks on a golf course and finding these beautiful brown coconuts that were hollow and dry. And you just say, Oh, these are just beautiful. Let’s paint, I’m going to paint them and looking for something to do because you’re stuck in your house. So I started working with a coconuts. And they’re difficult medium to work with or difficult easel tis or palette. But we went on a trip to Sanibel with my grandkids, because they were in our little bubble at the time. And we started finding these beautiful seashells. And at the end of the trip we had so many I started thinking, gosh, you know, I’m going to try doing this with the shells. So that’s sort of how it started. And

Ian McCluskey  23:28

I just say three years. Fast forward, our house is completely covered with seashells of various

Laurie Pickle  23:36

sizes. We get donations of them from friends and families. I have friends that find them at garage sales or they see on Facebook, somebody’s giving them away and they pick them up for me and I you know, it’s wonderful. We still we went to Sanibel app when it opened up after Hurricane Ian.

Achim Nowak  23:55

Just say for our listeners who are not from Florida Sanibel is very enchanted, not overly slicked up island off of the west coast of Florida. It’s really a throwback to the 1950s and 60s, Florida. And that’s part of his charm. And you can just roam the beaches, their weight, which is what you’re talking about.

Laurie Pickle  24:16

And it’s considered the shelling capital of Florida. I mean, for some reason, the way that tides work in the Gulf, that beaches just get littered with shells, and we never just take shells that are alive. If we see anything alive, we put them back, but there’s just all kinds of dead shells, empty shells there. And we started creating those and I had a little show outside my front door in the alcove and everyone was safe and just inviting some friends over to buy things for Christmas presents and they love them. That was November of 2020. Yeah. And then he and after that said to me, and I think you know, maybe we made $400 or something I don’t even know. He said, Why don’t we do this as a fundraiser for Africans. Let’s do Do this as a fundraiser instead of you just making gifts for your friends or their friends. That’s sort of how it all started.

Ian McCluskey  25:07

Can I tell a little funny story? Yes, of course. Yeah. Because, you know, I’m the one who’s always pushing Laurie to do stuff saying, Hey, she’s sort of underestimates her talent, underestimate her value and all sorts of stuff. So I’m going to keep saying, you know, we got to, we got to buy a tent, you know, a couple of tables and go to some farmers markets and art fairs. And she was a little reluctant at first and, but we did our very first one in April of 2021. Things were starting to open up and we did it outdoors at the Murata way. Artwalk which is fantastic. And Island, Murata. We boutique who was selling some of Laurie’s stuff already because we initially started by placing her stuff in boutiques, which turned out not to be a good business model because they take you know, 30 or 40%. So we set up a table outside and we put up all of her shells, and we must have had 150 different shells, different sizes. Boy that night, I think we sold well, first of all, we didn’t make any money, we probably lost money because the store owner suggested that we buy some Prosecco, Prosecco. And we spent more money buying Prosecco than we did you know, money in his shop. And this one woman Torres from somewhere, walked by and said, Oh, my God, those are the most expensive ashtrays I’ve ever seen. And so that almost destroyed the whole business. But two days later, we went to a farmers market sold several $100 worth of product. And that’s where it all started, then we realized that our stuff or Laurie stuff was really kind of high end. So we ended up going to art shows some really prestigious art shows. That’s sort of where we only hang out now just that prestigious places in our shows why the word that

Achim Nowak  26:47

comes into mind as I’m listening, it’s almost a cliche, but I want to say it, there’s something wonderfully holistic about the story that you’re telling, right? Because you support an organization called Africans that does beautiful work helping children get an education, you’re using some of your respective passions and talents to also help fundraise for it. I want to talk for a little bit about what it cost to support an organization like Africans. You mentioned over 100 Young people who you’ve been supporting are currently supporting, which is ridiculously impressive. So where does the money come from? We know you’re talking about art for Africans, I want to talk about marathons because I know you’re running marathons as well raise money, which is inspiring. But Laurie, like talk about how, as you grew Africans, and you had to pay for these things? Where did you find the money?

Laurie Pickle  27:40

Before we started art for Africa, it’s before we had that influx of donations coming in, it was off really families, friends, word of mouth, we have 37 children. And I would say all of the sponsors are either personally new, or they’re people that could toy the gentleman who works for us in Tanzania met on Safari, and he would talk about it and they would reach out to me and they would want to sponsor a child. I have relatives, my uncle, my cousins, they all sponsored children. It’s really a very close knit group of people. But it has grown with sponsors by word of mouth and really through a toy but then art for Africans is opened up a whole nother dimension to that because we meet people at the art shows who then find out what is Africa’s What is it do and they’ll make a donation, they’ll pay their shell may cost $50. And they’ll give us $100 Bill, you know to pay the end. So we’ve and we’ve gotten the word out of Africa, it’s through art for Africa, it’s it’s been a wonderful publicity really and way for people to learn about Africans. Because I have very close friends that I know that when they hear that they see me have you know, you did this, I didn’t know you’re involved in Africa, it’s because I’m a little private about it. I don’t want people to think I’m asking them for money or things like that. So it is a way to put Africans out there to more people than that the art in them. And it’s been a wonderful source of donations for us.

Ian McCluskey  29:21

Let me say two things quickly because it’s important. First of all, sponsors still provide the bulk, probably 60% of the funding each year. So that commitment from a core group of people is extremely important. To build any organization you got to have a commitment from a group of people who, who believe in it, believe in the mission and so on and are willing to step up each year. Number two, it costs roughly $1,500 to pay for one child to go to an English language boarding school in Tanzania. Imagine that $1,500 That’s for room board and tuition now in between, there’s probably another six or eight weeks where we try and look after them. There’s kids some other way, you know, like sending and creating a camp for them because they have no money and have no real homes to go to. But a little bit of money goes an awfully long way in Tanzania,

Achim Nowak  30:15

you just recently ran a big marathon. And part of the appeal of the dating profile was that this guy’s an athlete, Laurie, right. But, but he’s not putting his money where his mouth is, so to speak. So talk to us about of connect using a marathon to raise funds as well. Like, I think it’s such a wonderful connection. Yeah.

Ian McCluskey  30:35

Well, this conversation is really interesting, because we’ve never had a conversation like this with a third party asking these questions. But it is interesting how all the passions that you tap into that you mentioned earlier, have all come are all kind of like dovetailing with Africans, right? So everybody uses whatever they got, Laura uses her art in which was her passion until she became a lawyer. And now he’s still and she’s passionate about it. And it’s going for such great cause. Well, you know, like I said, she was more reluctant. Again, she repeated, I didn’t want to ask people for money. I go, why not? If it’s for such a great cause. I said, Look, I’m gonna run the Montreal marathon. I ran my very first 143 years earlier. That’s pretty crazy. And I’m still going to 43 years later. And when I started asking people for money, my former boss at Time Magazine, she said, Of course, I’ll send you a donation, old man running a marathon. And beautiful kids in Africa. I mean, who can refuse? That’s right. Yeah. And sure enough, you know, so I did complete the marathon. I’m no longer the marathon runner I was 43 years ago, but I still love it. In this case, we raised over $10,000, which was great, that just goes so far in Tanzania. So we’re looking at other ways to raise money, because why not? You know, the more you tell people about Africa, it’s the more people want to chip in.

Achim Nowak  31:53

What touches me about the story is that it’s it’s a very personal mission you’re on and it’s a very personal way in which you’re supporting it. The question that arises is, I don’t believe in everything has to be scaled, I believe in sometimes smaller is better. But has more people know about it, do you think, oh, let’s have a bigger organization, or let’s have more officers.

Ian McCluskey  32:19

I mean, I came, you’re the expert on organizational development. I mean, everything that we’ve done with Africans in last few years, has been sort of by the seat of the pants and learning, because you never had kids sit the national exam to try and get their A levels, their advanced Senior High School before, we never have done that. And now next year, there’ll be graduating and some of them will be ready for university, which will be another huge challenge. And of course, as they grow up with Sheikh Laurie keeps referring to them as children, these are no longer made many. They’re still children, we have some younger ones, but you know, they’re not 17 1819. And that is, you know, because if you remember when you were 17 1819, how complicated you were, it brings all sorts of issues. So we’re having to deal with those issues. Now many of these kids don’t have a family to fall back on, we have to step into

Laurie Pickle  33:12

well, it’s a funny side story when they finish their examinations to go into their A levels. Can toy calls me and says, Okay, now what are we going to do with these kids? They have six months before they get placed in high school, we’ve got to find something to do with them. So we were happened to be in Tanzania at that time, and we talked to them, what would you like to do? Let’s go to a trade school. What would you like to learn? We can put you somewhere for six months. And they all were all over the board. And then the more we talked, they all said computer, we found a computer school where they could board for six months. And they learned computer skills. They graduated with certificates and Word and Excel and all sorts of computer programs. No matter what career they’re going to end up going into. That’s a wonderful skill for them to have. The other fun story is when they when we were there and talking to them about that. And they were taking their exams it was a year ago. We said to them, okay, guys, if you work really hard on your exams, and do really well, we didn’t define what really well as we will buy you all cell phone. They were just like, shocked, like, What are you talking about a cell phone. So when the 17 got their exams and got placed, we bought them off cell phones, and we give them a few minutes, or not a few minutes. We give them minutes every three months. They can renew their minutes, which they have to manage. But it’s a way for them to communicate with us with each other while their place. They get placed in high school all over the country. The government places them in high school and they can be a 10 hour to a two day bus ride away from their home and their boarding schools. So it was a way to communicate. And the other thing we did for them at that time was we decided we were going to open bank accounts for them. I would say probably none of their guardians or parents have a bank account. but we didn’t have an open them off yet, because they didn’t all have, they don’t have IDs, because they don’t have birth certificates. So we’re working on that. But about half of them now have a bank account. And we put $200 in it, for them to manage while they’re away at school. And, you know, teaching them this is a life lesson, you need to have a bank account and learn how to manage your money. And you need to have a phone to communicate with people and that type of thing. They’re I mean, that’s seven. They’re incredible children, or adult, young adults, but they’re incredible. They are very appreciative of everything. And they really work very hard. And they have all kinds of career aspirations. We have a student who wants to be a lawyer, we have one who wants to be a doctor, and pilots and Safari guides, it’s incredible.

Achim Nowak  35:48

I really appreciate all those details, because it’s so clear to me that you’re helping to support the entire being beyond just being the student who gets good grades. So thank you for all of that. I want to wrap our conversation in this way. We just, I’m touched by your strong commitment and passion to Africans. But my essay question that I asked all of my guests on the podcast is, you clearly both sound like you have adventurous spirits, as you think of your own lies beyond Africans out other things where you go, Oh, this is something else I’d like to explore that maybe I haven’t explored before. Is there something else that yearning to happen? And I’m not saying there must be I’m just curious.

Laurie Pickle  36:30

I, for me, I would say just travel, more traveling adventures. I love going to remote areas and travel. And Ian and I did a wonderful trip last year, where were we up in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. It was just incredible. I would you know, other than my family, my grandchildren, my daughters, I think that the other passion I have in my life besides Africans, and they and of course, I have to say in is travel, I didn’t travel as much as he did growing up, and I didn’t travel that much as a young adult, I definitely have one request.

Ian McCluskey  37:09

I definitely appreciate

Achim Nowak  37:10

you sneaking in the fact that you’re a grandmother is I hope our listeners understand this is a grandmother pursuing some really cool work in anything on your mind. I’m assuming travel with Laurie is part of it. But anything else where you go, oh, I want to do a little more of this perhaps.

Ian McCluskey  37:27

Yeah, I’ll be even more specific than the grandma. I’m not a grandfather yet. But I am 67 years old, just finished my 12th marathon announced the lorry that, you know, I want to do eight more, at least get to 20. So that means once a year for the next eight years or so. It’s a triumph, I think, to do a marathon at age 67. And so I would like it to be a triumph at 6869. And why not, you know, 7576. So that’s what I look forward to. And and by the way, Papua New Guinea was great to have that I couldn’t do was run on that because we’re on this exploration ship. And it was great. But what I was really dying to do was get up and do a sunrise run, you know, on the island somewhere, and I couldn’t do that. So I guess that’s my one thing. And I’ll just add that 43 years ago, when I did run with my two best running buddies, they were much better runners than me. But when I said guys, let’s let’s do another one, you know, back in Montreal, 43. And they went now, we’re over, we’re done with running marathons. If I can continue doing that for a few more years, I’d be very happy.

Achim Nowak  38:33

Beautiful. Somehow I don’t feel sorry for you not being able not being able to run on that ship. You know, you don’t have empathy. Where would you like to direct your listeners who want to learn more about Africans? Or who made the move to want to donate some money? Where can we learn more?

Ian McCluskey  38:51

What we do have the websites www Africans And that’s really important because there is another African organization in London that I think they do wonderful work in Ghana, but it’s Africans Facebook is Africans Inc. and also Facebook slash art for Africans, fo are Africans on Facebook can see all that wonderful art that that Laurie does.

Achim Nowak  39:16

Thank you, Jen tenute success with the wonderful work you do. And thank you for the gift of this conversation. I so enjoyed it.

Laurie Pickle  39:25

Wonderful talking with you.

Achim Nowak  39:28 Like what you heard, please go to my fourth And subscribe to receive my updates on upcoming episodes. Please also subscribe to us on the platform of your choice. Rate us give us a review and let us all create some magical fourth acts together. Ciao


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