“In a world where we can be and do anything, be kind and do good.” This is a quote from my daughter, Lilliana Libecki. It is the source of passion and organic enthusiasm for all the work we are doing together. The world needs to come together and adopt this mentality. Those words are also the mission statement for the non-profit organization that my daughter recently founded: ‘ The Joyineering Fund’ all for a better planet, focused on people, environment, animals and all living things. I am incredibly inspired by my daughter, and my hope is that the world will be too. She inspires me to inspire her. Being a Joyineer and Solutioneer (those are her words) speaks for itself and makes perfect sense.
My daughter Lilliana recently turned 13 years old. All of a sudden, my little girl is not so little anymore, and she is ready to change the world. Rightfully so I suppose, at only 13 years old she has already been to all 7 continents, and after our upcoming/current Nepal Humanitarian Expedition she will have been to 21 countries. I love the age-old quote: “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled.” One of the best educations is traveling to see the world and be inspired to make it a better place ultimately creating and sharing joy.
My daughter Lilliana has grown up with a dad who lives the life of climbing and expeditions as a National Geographic Explorer; a life of traveling to exotic countries and remote, desolate lands in search of virgin Earth and pushing the boundaries of climbing first ascents and grand adventure. She has grown up seeing the photos and stories of colorful culture and exotic people, unique flora and fauna, jungles and the arctic and high mountains, everything the far corners of the Earth has to offer. And now she wants to live this lifestyle, but her goal is adding in major humanitarian projects while adventuring and embracing this beautiful, miraculous planet.
When Lilliana was younger she could only assume that her dad’s quite abnormal life was, well… normal. Kids don’t really know anything different up until a certain point. But as she started to get older, maybe when she was 6 or 7, she started to realize her dad was much different than her friends’ parents – that her dad was in fact not normal at all.
By the time she was 11, she had traveled with me to 15 countries and six continents, and became the youngest girl to do a ski expedition to Antarctica. Watch Antarctica, An Education: A father/daughter trip of discovery here: https://vimeo.com/112414517
At 9 years old, Lilliana declared she wanted to go to all seven continents by the time she was 12. At age 11, she had only one continent to complete her goal: Africa.
I asked her, “So what do you want to do in Africa – where should we go?” She decided that she wanted to try to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and one of the Seven Summits. She had learned about Mount Kilimanjaro in fifth grade, as well as Tanzania, where Kilimanjaro is located. She also wanted to go on a safari to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater to see Africa’s animals in the wild. She had also learned through her research that there are many orphanages that are in need. The images and stories she found about the children there moved her. Lilliana said, “Dad the most important thing we do in Africa should be to help the children in need, I want to help other kids.” Our goal was to combine the love for adventure with the priority to help others on the way.
I called a friend of mine, Dean Cardinale, the owner and founder of World Wide Trekking that arranges trips up Kilimanjaro and safaris to the Serengeti. We also discussed his nonprofit organization The Human Outreach Project, and the orphanage he started in Tanzania near the base of Mount Kilimanjaro called the Kilimanjaro Kids Community.
Once we discussed it more, it was clear the orphanage needed solar energy for electricity and computers for education. Dean’s eyes lit up and he said, “Mike, the orphanage is desperate for exactly that, they need solar energy that provides lighting and electricity and computers, it would make their life complete.” With further research, we realized the local school, church and community center near the orphanage was also in need.
I told him about two of the companies I work closely with, the solar energy company Goal Zero and Dell; I already knew they both would be willing to offer support, especially since the seed for the entire project and adventure was planted by my daughter. Lilliana started writing proposals about the orphanage and their needs in hopes to make a difference in their lives.
Before long, we had full support from Goal Zero and Dell to ship all the necessary solar panels, solar generators and laptops. Both my daughter and I were incredibly excited about the adventure ahead. If all went well, it would be the trip of a lifetime in every way. Our plan was to first climb Kilimanjaro, then go to the orphanage and install the solar equipment and set up the new computers. The finale was a safari to the Serengeti. The entire expedition ended up being a huge success. Watch the film from our trip, A 12 Year Old’s Passion Project in Africa, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7e1NlZacIA .
The experience at the African orphanage changed Lilliana’s life. When we returned from Africa, she immediately started researching other ways we could help the planet and people. At the time, the huge earthquakes in Nepal were all over the media. We soon teamed up with Human Outreach Project, the same organization in Africa. We started figuring out what the problems were in Nepal and what the solutions would be. After a couple months, we were planning a huge humanitarian expedition to the lower Solukhumbu Valley and into Sagarmatha National Parks in Nepal.
Schools, hospitals and community centers needed solar energy and computers. Of course, people could use various supplies from socks to warm hats to sleeping pads. Lilliana started writing proposals again, with the information provided by Human Outreach Project. Goal Zero immediately signed on to provide funding and solar products for 22 buildings various schools, hospitals and community centers. Dell also wanted to help and committed 20 laptops and additional funding.
Fast forward to early June 2016, present day, the time of now… After an incredible amount of hard work, commitment and support for many months, the huge humanitarian expedition is full force ahead. My daughter’s inspiration flowing to so many to help the planet is humbling, and I am the proudest dad on the planet.
We have arrived in Nepal with our team from Goal Zero and Human Outreach Project. We shipped thousands of pounds of solar equipment and all the Dell computers a month prior. When we left Utah, we checked in over 30 bags of additional product for the local people: thousands of socks, fleece hats, sleeping pads, eating utensils, tools the list goes on. So many people came together in this equation to find the final product of making the planet a better place. We have landed in Phaplu from Kathmandu. And now we start the 60+ mile trek, hands-on, blood-and-sweat installing solar energy equipment village to village with donkeys and yaks, teaching locals to use the computers, and gifting thousands of products as we visit every beautiful person here. Remember what my daughter says:
“In world where we can be and do anything, be kind and do good.”