soccer ball

“There are approx 2.5 million slum dwellers in about 200 settlements in Nairobi representing 60% of the Nairobi population, occupying just 6% of the land. Kibera houses almost 1 Million of these people. Kibera is the biggest slum in Africa and one of the biggest in the world. Most young people in Kibera have nothing to do, obviously it is better for them to have the opportunity to take part in sport and several organizations are working on this.”

People have been asking, “What’s happening at Joy Squared?” I wanted to share about a group we have begun partnering with. It is a newly formed non-profit group called “Candles That Care.” Candles That Care is currently being operated out of a small office space in Anaheim; but the space is the only thing small about the organization. The plans they have, the heart for children, and the infectious desire the share love and joy, could not be contained in any one building or continent.

CTC is the brain-child of a twenty-something college student. It was born out of a 2012 short-term trip to Kibera, a slum on the outskirts of Nairobi, in Kenya, Africa. The visit and the faces of the children he met while there changed this young man’s attitude toward the vast difference between true needs in an African Slum and the perceived needs in affluent Orange County, CA. He came back from his initial trip with the feeling, “If you have the resources, you should do something. I have too much.”

It was while working in a warehouse, packing candles being sent to high-end restaurants that he remembered about a project called Candles That Care, which raised money to feed the homeless and helped in suicide prevention education. Why couldn’t he do the same to raise funds for Kibera? One day there was a shipment that was incorrect and several thousand candles had to be literally cut in half. All of the excess candle wax was going to be tossed in the trash. He asked for, and was given, the entire amount of extra wax to practice his candle making skills. He soon set up a workshop with a few candle molds, pans from his mom’s kitchen, a small warmer, and a dream to make a difference. With the help of some friends and mentors, he developed his multi-leveled plans to turn candle wax into smiles on the other side of the world.

His plan is this: Make and sell some simple but attractive candles at local farmers markets and gift boutiques. With the profits from the candle sales, lease a shipping container. Fill the shipping container with over 12,000 soccer balls. Ship the filled container to Africa. Go into the slums, like Kibera, and hand out soccer balls. Start over. Being a videography student, he plans to document the entire process from beginning to end on a disc; including riding the freighter that carries the container to Africa.

When I asked him why he wanted to do this, his answer was one for the ages. With a big smile, he replied, “Because we can.” People have asked him what the motivation is behind this and what he hopes to get out of the experience. Again, his answer is simple and to the point, “Love.” “I want to share love, with no agenda, and without expectations.” (Containers without Expectations was at one time considered for the group’s name) He continues, “Giving is fun! Being generous brings me the most joy.” And although the young man considers himself a Christ-follower, he didn’t want to put that kind of pressure on the project. Some have suggested writing Jesus Loves You on all the balls, or even make the ball a “gift” for attending a church service. If asked, he is not afraid to tell his story, but much like salvation, he wants the soccer balls to be free for the asking. (Personally, I feel that people will see the love of God in the young man’s face without having to say it, or force the issue.)

Once his first trip has been accomplished, there are plans for a possible South American trip on the Horizon. And it doesn’t have to be soccer balls. There are plenty of items that can fit in a shipping container and will bring joy to a child or a community. And there are plenty of places in this big world where someone can use some love in their life.

Joy Squared is fully behind this project and it touches every point of our mission statement. He has a need for help to continue his forward momentum. His selflessness can cause life-long and even generational change in the life of others. And he wants to bring others along to share the joy of generosity.

You may be saying, “Nice story Bro, but why are you telling me?” Well, as I said, the work space is just about the only thing small about this project: plans are big and the capacity to involve others is huge. The young man who desires to perpetuate the goodness of Candles That Care knows he can’t do it all. He has some great mentors to help with details but he can also use funds to purchase new and better wax, hands to pour candles, connections to get the candles into the hands of people who can move and sell them. He needs people who can help with marketing and logistics. He is even looking for people who would be willing to share the experience on a freighter and in Africa who are passionate about documenting the experience to share with even more people. If this sounds like a project you can be involved in, in any capacity, please connect with us at Joy Squared on our website or Facebook. You will bless us by allowing us to connect you with a worthwhile cause, an adventurous project, and an amazing young man.