Update and tribute: Since this article first appeared, James also earned his Ph.D., writing his thesis on fatherhood issues in Africa, and developed the first fathering board in Africa. More recently we learned that James passed away after a double amputation and complications from diabetes. True to his character, James sacrificed his own health, doing without needed care and medications, so he could pay for the needs of his son, who has epilepsy.
Leading up to Father’s Day we’re honoring some everyday heroes, and we have to tell you about one named James Maina, who might have a rougher commute than most of us.
James is a native Kenyan and a master trainer for our programs. He was equipped by another trainer, Dave Clark, and now James uses our curricula to equip community leaders, pastors, YMCA leaders, prison officials, and men from refugee camps, who then spread the fatherhood message all over Africa.
James is a husband and father of three; he has a master’s degree in education, and for ten years he held a position equal to a school superintendent in his country. But he left that because he has a passion for fatherhood and saw the great need around him.
And to be clear, there are huge challenges. It’s about five miles from his home to his office, and many days he walks. More than once, he’s been beaten up or robbed on the way. Some days he gets a ride in the back of a crowded van, but he basically does whatever it takes. He’s that sold out to spread the message; he knows it’s important.
So, whenever you’re driving in your air-conditioned car and you start getting irritated because the world isn’t cooperating with your schedule, maybe you can think of James.
We should all be encouraged to hear about everyday heroes like James who not only are good fathers, but also enlist other dads, because that’s how we’re going to win the battle for today’s children. One of the greatest challenges facing our country is father-absence, or fathers who for some reason choose not be involved in their children’s lives. Statistically, it negatively impacts many of the markers about the well-being of children.
So one of the ways you can leave a legacy beyond your own family and make a difference in our nation is to engage other fathers, whether they are disengaged from their kids or they simply need an encouraging word or an insight that might help them through a fathering challenge.
We don’t want to disturb your daily routine too much, but as an everyday hero yourself, are you considering ways you can help unleash responsible fathering where you are? Please think big!
Maybe lead a small-group of dads. Or, find ways to engage dads at your children’s school and encourage them to get more involved. Maybe you could be trained, like James, to lead other men. The point is, use the opportunities before you to reach out to other dads. There’s no better way to celebrate Father’s Day than to share some of the joys and blessings you feel as a father with other dads who may need your encouragement.
Many of you are actively involved in enlisting and equipping other dads. Please tell us about what you’re doing on our Facebook page.
If we all get involved, positive change in our culture—and our world—can happen!
- Ask yourself and another dad you know well, “What can we do to help strengthen fathers?”
- This weekend, participate in activities that your child suggests. Make sure you aren’t taking your opportunities as a father for granted.
- Tell your children about James Maina or someone else you admire who makes great sacrifices to help others in some way.
- Enlist other dads using social media. Like us on Facebook, then be active in sharing, commenting, and promoting what you see there.