In last week’s column, we mentioned that leaders from two global organizations recently spoke in Memphis and highlighted how we could play a role in helping these nonprofits do good on a global stage. We discussed Samaritan’s Feet last week, so now let’s turn our attention to Jake Harriman and his fight to eradicate poverty around the world through Nuru International.
Born in rural West Virginia, Jake Harriman grew up on a small farm in a small town, where helping others was a way of life. Although money was often scarce, he learned at a young age that what he had to offer others was free - compassion and hope. Jake’s father served four years in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. His commitment to serving our country, along with a desire to travel and see the world, inspired Jake to attend the U.S. Naval Academy and to ultimately serve seven and a half years as an Infantry and Special Operations Platoon Commander in the Marine Corps. During his military tenure, Jake led four operational deployments in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. His experiences in combat convinced him that the “War on Terror” could not be won on the battlefield alone – that we must fight to eradicate the plague of extreme poverty in remote, rural areas and provide help and hope to those who need it most.
Jake discovered that many of the opposing soldiers weren’t soldiers at all, they were poor farmers who didn’t particularly want to fight, but were recruited and did so to protect their children and families. Extremist groups increased their numbers and won the trust of these people by providing food and safety and building schools and medical clinics. Jake decided someone on our side of the war needed to help empower these individuals and families to address the poverty and provide opportunities to become self-sufficient. So, after Jake left the military, he enrolled and graduated from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and started Nuru International in 2008.
Nuru operates in the poorest districts of Kenya and Ethiopia and soon will be working in Nigeria. The nonprofit primarily focuses on four areas of need: hunger, coping with economic shocks, healthcare, and quality education. To date, Nuru has enabled over 100,000 people to lift themselves out of extreme poverty through programs aimed at increasing crop yield, introducing entrepreneurs to new markets and capital, and counseling local leaders on modern advancements in education and medicine. Nuru’s ultimate goal is to create a roadmap to eradicating poverty that can be shared with other organizations worldwide.
Learn more about Nuru International and how you can help their efforts at NuruInternational.org. Then, make plans to watch “A Conversation With Jake Harriman,” which will premiere on WKNO/Channel 10 at 7:30 PM on Friday, May 5. It’s an interview you won’t want to miss!