Landmark graduate Paul Boutin went to Kenya for a 10-day safari. He didn’t make it through the first day. On that first morning, he noticed an unfinished building and asked about it. He was told that it was a nursery school that was never completed. When he asked why not, he was told that the Canadian government had helped Kenya build regional schools, but that the project didn’t extend to distant villages like the one the safari was passing by. Money for local nursery shools either wasn’t there or had been moved to other projects. “I can do this!” thought Boutin.
He left the safari and set about doing what it would take to get the school built. It was now December 24th. He found out that the next term of school was due to start January 8th. He created that the school would be ready to open. He found that there were teachers for the nursery school, but they didn’t have any of the necessary supplies–Books, pens, chalk, etc. He went to the closest sizable town and began to look around. After meeting with the regional school principal, he discovered that such things are expensive in Kenya because due to ingrained corruption, there are about five layers of middlemen to go through to get the goods. He discovered who the original source of the supplies was and went directly to the source. “I was paying for everything myself,” recalls Boutin. “The bill came to $3,600. But then I realized a couple of decimal points were off and that it actually only cost me $360 for all the supplies, and that covered 600 kids–Not just the local nursery school but the regional school as well.”
Then he returned to the town and set about working on the construction part. The women of the village acquired supplies locally, such as two-by-fours that were turned into desks. All the women pitched in on the work. In the end, the whole construction only cost him about $200. The school opened on time with 106 children. Paul was not satisfied with this triumph. Most of the Masai people had to walk 20 miles to go to one of the regional nursery schools, meaning that they wouldn’t go to school before they were 10-12 years old. He returned to the United States determined to open more schools in Kenya, supported by the team of people he had met there. He had met a hotel executive that usually worked with safaris, and his vice president of transport that helped him arrange logistics. The teachers would be paid via the hotel.
During the flight home he met a hotel executive who referred him to a wealthy philanthropist, who agreed to pay for Paul’s Kenyan team in Kenya of 40 people to do the Landmark Forum. The philanthropist will pay for 60 more people when they come onto the team. Once this was complete he knew his team was ready to do whatever was needed.
The only thing missing at that point was the money. Boutin was competing in a charity golf tournament, and he got partnered with a young television stars. They played remarkably and their team won the tournament, during which time Boutin shared his work in Kenya. The star told him he’d been looking for a good cause like that to put money towards. The funding of future schools was assured. The total cost per school has only come to about $2,000, which includes not only all supplies but teacher salaries for a year. This year they are adding laptops for communication between schools and the team, and soccer balls, which builds relatedness between villages!
Two schools have been built, and eight more will be finished soon. The recent violence in Kenya has prevented Paul from returning to the country, but his dynamic team hasn’t slowed down in building the schools. In addition to continuing to build schools in Kenya, the team’s next project is a huge school in a refugee camp in Darfur for about 5,000 people. The 200-300 teachers required are already there in the camp. Action will begin as soon as it’s safe for Paul’s team to go to Darfur.
In Paul’s own life, out of the breakthrough he had in being unstoppable in Kenya, he has created a fast-flourishing research and development consulting business in which he made a million dollars in the first six weeks of its existence. Part of the structure of the business is that each of the founding partners takes on a philanthropy game each quarter–Paul’s project is of course the continued building of the schools. Paul now coaches people looking to make a difference through projects in Africa.
When asked what gave him the impetus to do everything that he did, Boutin simply said, “Through the programs of Landmark I really got that I can create anything from nothing.”
For more information on this amazing project and person, email Paul at [email protected].