The last time I saw Father Tijwa, we were in Milot, Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake. The diminutive and soft-spoken Catholic priest has been an innovative leader trying to build a better community.
Medical teams from our valley have traveled to Haiti on numerous occasions over the last few decades to provide health care in that desperately impoverished country.
So it was a bit strange to walk into Caffe Mela in downtown Wenatchee and see him having coffee with Dr. Dale Peterson, the retired urologist and long-time humanitarian who championed Wenatchee's connection to Haiti.
Father Tijwa is visiting the Wenatchee Valley, oddly enough, at the same time as a small team of local Rotarians is in Milot to continue work on bringing clean water to that community.
Both Peterson and Father Tijwa talked but about how meaningful it is to help individuals and not focus on the overwhelming problems of a country. "Providence says we do what we can do," said Father Tijwa.
The Wenatchee Downtown Rotary project in Haiti began in 2010 with a few dozen water purification filters. The club has continued to develop ties to that community and now provide other services, including a micro-lending program as well as a scholarship program to train nurses.
According to Rotarian Garry Arseneault, a new water system costing $28,000 has been purchased and is waiting to be installed in Milot.
The team of Rotarians, led by Jim Russell, also includes talented videographer Charley Voorhis, who wowed the community here with his "We are Wenatchee" marketing video recently.
There is nothing more noble than serving others. Some will choose to help in faraway places like Haiti. Others can find plenty of healing work to be done locally.
Wherever it is done, these acts of humanity make a difference and change lives.