There’s an African proverb that says,
“The eye never forgets what the heart has seen.”
For Rod Mickels, this proverb couldn’t be truer. From the moment he first set foot in Kenya in 2002, he felt an immediate connection with the land and the people. He was visiting his daughter Alissa, who was working for Youth with a Mission in Mombasa at the time, when she introduced him to Winnie 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 currently in Nairobi working at an orphanage called Morning Star, and invited Rod and Alissa to meet the director and the children. The children had so little, yet they were happy and hopeful for the future. They aspired to become doctors and teachers and engineers; and most of all, they wanted to help the people in their communities.
The visit inspired Rod’s vision and sowed the seeds for The Giving Exchange. Rod knew he could make a difference by creating opportunities for these children—not with handouts, but with education, skills, a thriving economy and self-sustaining income. As a businessman, he knew how to connect people with the supplies and skills they needed to build success. With his vision in mind, he reached out to his daughter, Alissa Mickels Pelatan, and together, they founded The Giving Exchange in 2012.