The Power of a Pencil

Colorful Pencils

The holidays are a time for us to reflect on the true meaning of this wonderful season. We look forward to them because we decorate the interior and exterior of our homes, fight the crowds to find that perfect gift for that one difficult person on our list, and perhaps finalize travel plans to visit loved ones near and far.

In June, I was able to fulfill a life-long dream of an African safari. I experienced numerous magical moments throughout Kenya and Tanzania, but perhaps the most memorable and life-changing experience was my last activity before packing for my long journey home.

On my final day, I traveled through the Mukuru slum in Nairobi to the America Share Harambee Center. America Share is the non-profit arm of Micato Safaris. Those living in this impoverished area of 500,000, struggle every day for hope and survival. This center provides education, community outreach, and economic empowerment. I spent time with orphaned and vulnerable children who are receiving an education and talked to employees who are dedicated to caring for those with HIV/AIDS. I saw economic empowerment in action when I met two women who were taught the skill of jewelry making in order to give their family a better life.

On safari, you are given strict luggage weight restrictions. Over-packing is not an option. However, 500 brightly colored pencils made the trip in my suitcase and were given to the children at the Harambee Center that day. You would have thought that I had given them gold! Their eyes lit up and the hugs, fist bumps, and high-fives from them I will always remember. This experience not only warmed my heart, it nourished my soul!

Find your pencil this holiday season, I know I will. Giving of your time, talents, and treasures to those in need will be the best gift you’ve ever given yourself!

Happy Holidays!


Joel Lilliquist Interior Designer Allied Member ASID

Joel Lilliquist

Interior Designer Allied Member ASID


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