Each year, Foth recognizes employee-members who go the extra mile providing selfless service to others by presenting them with the Community Service Award. This year’s award winner is senior project manager Todd Treat for his volunteer work to help build a church and community center for residents in Kenya, as well as a school in Haiti.
Todd and his family worked in an area called Tapsagoi, which is in the central western part of the country, about 60 miles east of the border with Uganda. Tapsagoi is in a mountainous and lush rural region, and due to security measures, Todd’s team traveled about 1.5 hours each way from their lodging to the worksite.
The community could be described as materially poor but rich in many other ways. Many of the residents had never seen people who looked like Todd and his family, and were especially interested in meeting their three young children.
Their team consisted of 12 people, led by a member of the African Missions Project who guides teams from the United States into Kenya to build tabernacle shelter churches for communities that would otherwise not have the means to build a building. By supplying building framing materials, erecting the framing structure and installing the metal roofing, the local community can continue to complete the structure, adding walls and flooring as they are able.
Todd’s professional experience as a project manager has introduced him to a vast variety of challenges, a few of which he and his team faced during this project. He recalled one in particular that he had not experienced previously or since. “One of the most interesting stories I have from the trip developed about 20 minutes after we arrived at the airport in Kisumu, Kenya. At this point, our group had been traveling for two days without stopping for adequate sleep. The country had just implemented strict COVID-19 protocols, including curfews and social distancing policies, and our team was unaware of the details.
“As we passed one of the roadside police checkpoints, a local police officer stopped our van. Note that this van included our native driver, my family of five, and my sister in law and nephew. We were essentially one family. The officer said we were violating the social distancing policy because my two young children were sitting next to each other. We showed him our passports and that we all shared the same last name. He then asked if we could get him some tea. We told him that we were headed for breakfast and would gladly buy him some tea or breakfast. He got angry and frustrated. Speaking to our driver in Swahili, he told me to get in the front passenger seat and separated my two youngest children by one van seat. Then he left.
“What I later learned was that “give me some tea” actually means give me money. I guess that day we were too naïve and tired to understand his request for a bribe so he just let us go.”
Thank you, Todd and your family, for demonstrating Foth’s core values through your dedication to making a difference in the lives of others.
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