This was all started by a boy from Tanzania, Africa, who was inspired by a cup of milk. What follows is the story told to me by that young boy now know as Father Stephen Mosha: "A glass of milk that broke traditional rules inspired my heart and slowly created my philosophy and love to help others. In my culture there is a rule that states something like this: 'The cow belongs to the man but the milk belongs to the woman.' According to this rule, it is the woman who milks the cow and controls the milk. Therefore, if a husband needs milk to drink, he must ask his wife for it. Under no circumstances should a husband take liberty to take his wife’s guard, shake it and pour out milk for himself or for another. This is tantamount to an insult to his wife and does not go unpunished.
One day my mother was out cutting grass for our animals and my father was at home. A neighbor came in and requested from my father for a glass of milk for herself and her child who was not feeling well. I believe, the child had not eaten anything the previous night or that morning. According to the cultural rules, my father had two options: one, tell the woman to wait for my mom to come back and give her the milk. Or, send for my mom to come and give her the milk. But to my surprise my father called me and told me to give him a glass. He shook the guard, poured milk and gave it to the woman. Behold my father broke the cultural rules and left me shocked and wondering what would happen when my mom returns!
But that was not all. This neighbor had been at odds with my family. They had done some pretty bad things to my family and to my father in particular. So in human terms I expected my father to take this opportunity to refuse to help, or to take the cultural excuse and wait for my mom’s return or even to send for her. To crown it all, while my father was pouring the milk he said to us, his children, 'You may be in need of this milk, but this woman needs it more than you. You can stay hungry.' Then he gave away what we would have taken. After the woman had left, my father said to us, 'When someone is in need, you must always help, even if it be your enemy.' That glass of milk given to the woman in need broke the traditional rules and inspired my life."
As his dedication to his people grew so did his faith and he pursued a career as a priest. He arrived in the United States in 2004 seeking assistance to build a clinic back in Mkuranga (Tanzania). He joined a parish that served the Ossining community. At the time, I was managing a fine dining restaurant in Manhattan where owner Chef Ian requested my art on his walls. One day a gentleman by the name of Joe "Giuseppe" Provenzano (architect) was dinning in the restaurant and asked a waiter about the artist who's work was displayed on the walls. The waiter escorted me to the table and I introduced myself. We arranged a meeting at his home office. As I arrived I saw a book on his table which I viewed weeks ago in a book store. I mentioned it and he returned with “Yeah, my work is in that book,” which seemed like a strange coincidence. On a separate day he called me up and requested that I accompany him to a meeting in Ossining, NY. When I asked what part am I going to play in the meeting, he simply replied “I’m not sure, I just feel you need to be there."
Joe picked me up and we drove to Ossining, where I met Father Stephen Mosha for the first time. We sat and spoke over a good cup of tea in the dining room. During the meeting, I listened to the exchange until Father Mosha mentioned that he needed a health center back home to assist his people. I was familiar with the steps in starting a non-for-profit and stated them. Father Mosha then asked if we would assist him in accomplishing this goal. I was surprise and asked “You would like me to do what again?” I hesitate with surprise, I was just never asked to help out on such a big wish. But, I did make a promise to assist him. My promise to him was made from one person to another, not because he was wearing a clerical collar. As we continued to our conversation, I could feel his gentle soul and humble nature. I could feel his sensitivity and need for this to take place. My reason for being there was clear.
In a year since we met, Joe left the country permanently for work to pursue his illustrious career. Within a few years, we acquired a few acres of land free and clear from the government and any church affiliation. Joe and I decided to assist in giving him a village instead of only a clinic since we have been blessed with the size of the land. I had no idea when I first made this promise that it would turn out grow to this capacity. I had to come up with a plan and I educated myself in various areas of development, but I did not know any specialist or individuals that could assist at this point. I asked the world to guide and introduce me to those who were to be part of this journey to help change the lives of the thousands to come.
Time and patience has lead me to these great individuals who are now part of an amazing team who have given their time, expertise, hearts, devotion, and love to a greater cause than their own. How often can one say they are part of a life altering project that will save so many lives. Now you have the opportunity to be part of the great movement to help the lives of those who do not have the means or can’t help themselves.
It is our responsibility as humans to extend a helping hand when we can and remind others of the power of FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE.