There’s an African proverb that says, “The eye never forgets what the heart has seen.”
For Rod Mickels, this couldn’t be truer—from moment he first set foot in Kenya in 2002, he felt an immediate connection. He was visiting his daughter Alissa who was working for Youth with a Mission in Mombasa at the time, and she introduced him to Winnie (LAST NAME) and the kids in the community. He never forgot them—they touched his heart, and he vowed that he would be back one day.
Ten years later Rod and Alissa were in Africa and reached out to Winnie to say hello. She was in Nairobi working at an orphanage called Morning Star and invited Rod and Alissa to come meet the director and the children. The children had so little, yet were happy and hopeful for the future—they aspired to become doctors and teachers and engineers; they wanted to help the people in their communities.
That meeting sowed the seeds for The Giving Exchange. Rod knew he could make a difference by creating opportunities for these kids—not with handouts, but with education, clean water, skills, and self-sustaining income. As a businessman, he knew how to connect people with the supplies and skills they needed to build success. He reached out to his daughter Alissa Mickels Pelatan and together, they began The Giving Exchange in 2012.