The other week, I had the fortuitous coincidence of being on the same travel route through Washington D.C. and New York City that Pope Francis was on as he toured the United States.
On this eventful trip to D.C., I watched in awe as Metro Police shut down rush hour traffic so that the Pope’s convoy of several dozen motocops, police vehicles, and blacked-out Secret Service cars could make their way through. As I was videoing the brigade, unsure if the President and Pope were present, a black SUV flying one American flag and one Vatican flag drove past. I figured it was the President (or his decoy), which is pretty neat. Right behind the Presidential SUV was a little, unassuming car (later identified as a Fiat 500L) with the back window rolled down. I kept recording the onslaught of cars, but my head followed this open window and focused inside, which is when I realized – the person dressed all in white, calmly hanging out in the backseat, his arm resting half out the window was the Pope himself!
I’m not a regular church-goer and I know next to nothing about Catholicism, but it would be impossible to ignore the wave of popularity that the Pope has garnered through his open and encompassing push for responsible social action. In his short time as head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has addressed many topics – from homelessness to climate change. The most relevant to Kuli Kuli’s mission is his call for ending hunger and food insecurity.
Caritas International runs a campaign aimed at ending world hunger by 2025. When launching the program in 2013, Pop Francis said, “We are in the front of a global scandal… one billion people who suffer from hunger today. We cannot look the other way and pretend this does not exist.”
When you see companies like Kuli Kuli who are doing everything they can to make real, positive changes happen, you realize that with a strong social focus, a small group of people can make a big difference. By responsibly creating a product, providing a living wage to several dozen Americans and Africans alike, employing the use of a shipment fulfillment center that employs Americans with disability, planting more trees in developing countries like Haiti, teaching people to use moringa to combat malnutrition around the world, Kuli Kuli is helping our planet and changing many lives for the better. Still, there is more that can be done and it will take responsible input from companies around the world in order to achieve these goals.
I’ve had a recent discussion with a few people about our ability as human beings to either positively or negatively impact this earth. And in these discussions, I’ve heard the same kind of antics – “what I do doesn’t matter,” “the planet will go on without us,” “I need to accumulate my own wealth and take care of my family first.” When I hear these messages, when people say that their actions won’t make a difference and attribute their apathy to their impermanence on this planet, I hear the greed and inequality that Pope Francis warns against.
In all that you do, from the products you purchase to the car you drive to the clothing you wear, you make a choice, you make an impact, and you make a statement. One can only hope that these choices, impacts and statements will take into account all living beings and the one world we share.
To the Pope, I can only say a very deep and meaningful THANK YOU. If all of our world leaders thought with this global mindset, maybe our policymakers could also start making a real, visible difference in this world.