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Claire holds an MBA from Oxford University and a BA and an MA from Stanford University. She is the cofounder of Hope Runs, a nonprofit organization operating in AIDS orphanages in Kenya. She has appeared widely in major television and print news sources such as CNN, BBC, Time, Newsweek, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Wired, and many others. Find her on Twitter @claire.
Samuel Ikua Gachagua was born in rural Kenya in 1992. After losing his parents at a young age, he struggled to survive until he was placed in an orphanage in Nyeri, Kenya. In 2009, he received a full-ride scholarship to Maine Central Institute, granting him a rare US visa and the chance to begin his sophomore year of high school under the guardianship of Claire Díaz-Ortiz. After graduating from high school, he spent a year serving in Ecuador as a fellow for Global Citizen Year. He is an up-and-coming motivational speaker and can be found on Twitter @sammyikua.
Posted July 10, 2014
This book keeps you interested from page one. The authors interweave their stories to make it easy to understand and enjoyable to read. Claire and Sammy come from such different backgrounds but are able to still give something missing to each other. Claire is a college graduate who is traveling the world. Sammy comes from an orphanage in Kenya. The book is a quick read. Make sure you have a few tissues handy just in case you may need them(I certainly did!).I recieved this book from the Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 6, 2014
Hope Runs is a book I’ve been privileged to read. I love nonfiction books that inspire, challenge, entertain and I find that I usually end up learning something in the process as well. This book has all those elements. A great read and one I will be recommending to my friends. This is a book that appeals to so many which makes it even better!
I received this book for free from BookClubNetwork in exchange for my honest review.
Posted June 4, 2014
Samuel and his siblings were abandoned by their mother. Samuel and his brother eventually end up in an orphanage. Claire, an American tourist arrives at the orphanage and decides to stay. She, with the help of friends and supporters, starts a running program for the children. She will change the life of Samuel, and he in turn will change hers.
I'm a runner, so I'm sure this influenced my feelings about the story. But I know I would have enjoyed it even if I wasn't a runner. The authors took turns telling the story from their point of view. This added a fresh perspective and kept the story interesting. Even with the two authors, the story flowed well and brought the same messages and emotions into play. The story was inspiring, heartwarming, and uplifting. This was a story of two people who taught each other the meaning of family and faith. I will continue to follow these two and hope they write another book together.
I received this book free of charge Book Club Network in exchange for my honest review.
Posted May 26, 2014
Sammy is an incredible young man who looks like any other high school graduate desiring to make a difference in the world. He is an athlete, an excellent scholar who speaks at least four languages who recently spent a year in Ecuador as part of Global Citizen Year. Sammy is also a miracle who comes from a life far, far removed from the luxuries of most American high school students, a place where the thought of flying on an airplane anywhere would have been one of many of a young boy’s impossible dream. His is a life changed through others’ vision, and he also desires to be a catalyst for change.
Claire is an extraordinary young woman in every way. She is hard-working, intelligent, a visionary who sees a need, studies to find how best to meet that need, and has the determination to see it through. Claire and her college friend Lara are world travelers and partners in helping those who need help or finding a means with which to help them. Claire’s travels and work with Lara changed her from a loving, extraordinary young woman to a loving, extraordinary young woman who accepts the challenge to change and grow even as she becomes a catalyst for change.
Brought together through God’s will and plan, the three of them are an example of what the Lord can do when one has hope. Or when two set up a non-profit group named Hope Runs, as Claire and Lara did. Hope Runs is an organization that currently helps students at a Kenyan orphanage where Sammy had been a student. It provides athletic training to students at the orphanage and scholarships to university for those who want it who also demonstrate their successful completion of high school. Hope Runs is the recipient of the proceeds of this book, making it a true work of love by Claire Diaz-Ortiz and Sammy Ikua Gachagua.
During their world travels, Claire and Lara went to Kenya to climb Mount Everest and move on. While there, they received reasonable accommodations at the orphanage where Sammy lived. After meeting the children at the orphanage, especially Sammy, they spent a year rather than just long enough to do the climb. Claire and Lara put together a program to train students athletically who want to run, and study the needs of those at the orphanage.
Sammy had been orphaned, homeless at a tender age. He and his brother lived at the orphanage and received schooling, while his sister lived with one of their aunts. Sammy knew that the orphanage was possibly the best his life would be until he becoming an adult. He, like many in the orphanage, learned to protect his heart and not grow close to those who came to the orphanage to help. It was too easy to love some of the volunteers who would one day pack up and return to life in the US.
This is an incredible book about change, about God’s work in our lives, and about what believers with a vision can accomplish to change lives. Both Claire and Sammy are excellent writers, bringing a compelling read to that I would highly recommend to young adults and adults of all ages. It would make a great gift for graduation or even for someone who has a dream but is afraid to act on that dream. Sammy, Claire, and Lara are unique people that we will hear more of in the future; they are part of our future in this country, in Kenya, and around the world.
I received a copy of this book through the “For Readers Only” group at The Book Club Network, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.
Posted May 12, 2014
This is a touching story of the way God weaves together the lives of individuals from vastly different cultures and life experiences to create something valuable and greater than those involved. It is also the story of young people “growing up”, finding their voice and purpose in life, and the human need to find fulfillment through helping others. It is ultimately the story of the power of the human spirit and the transformation possible through the love of God and the love of others. Through alternating chapters, the author tells her story of searching for something she can’t quite put her finger on and the tale of the struggles of a young African boy to first survive and then find his place in the world. As the two stories intersect, we see the wonderful hand of God working through the events and “coincidences” of ordinary life and what can happen when love and faith take precedence over cultural and economic differences.
Sammy’s story humbles those of us who have so much and yet dare to complain. His early years are spent hungry, abandoned, and physically abused, but his unquenchable spirit keeps him tenderhearted toward the needs of his companions and optimistic about the future. One of the most poignant moments was when the homeless and desperate child reaches into the pocket of his jacket and finds a candle. “Even though we go to bed that night without eating and aren’t sure where our mother is, finding that candle makes me feel that God is up there looking out for us.” He explains how the concept of “family” plays out in his life and at the orphanage: “Even though people might not have a blood family, they take whatever is available and make a family for themselves.”
Claire’s story is one that helps illustrate that true humanitarian relief can’t come in short spurts of charity and mission trips. Her college thesis and her world view contend that : “by having one cross-cultural experience, then another and another, these volunteers—if given the right tools to recognize the importance of what they themselves are actually learning----have a good chance of one day doing something that can hopefully make things a little better.” The value to the local people is not in “those three months building a church or two but in the possibility that those three months can transform the VOLUNTEER into someone who gives for life.” She explains that her work is “about helping organizations see this and making their programming more sustainable in the process.” She is full of good intentions but doesn’t make a difference until she is completely and emotionally invested in the lives of individual people where they are. It is significant that when she decides to spend a year at the orphanage she first asks the local elders what they would like her to do there.
Then Claire meets Sammy, and the rest of the story demonstrates the growth and support of both of these young people in the unusual family they form. I wonder if we appreciate the tapestry of people the Lord has woven together in our own lives.
I received this book through Book Club Network and the opinions are mine.
Posted May 11, 2014
Claire ends up in a Kenyan Orphanage for one night, Meets Sammy, Gods plan for both of their lives took over. It is neat to read a book with so much going for it. God bless both of them Please read this book
you will be blessed by it
I received this book from tbcn for my honest review
Posted April 29, 2014
Sammy Ikua Gachagua had lost his father to illness, his mother to abandonment, and his home to poverty. By age ten, he was living in a shack with seven other children and very little food. He entered an orphanage seeing it as a miracle with three meals a day, a bed to sleep in, and clothes on his back.
When Claire Diaz-Ortiz arrived in Kenya at the end of an around-the-world journey, she decided to stay the night, climb Mt. Kenya, then head back home. She entered an orphanage seeing it as little more than a free place to spend the night before her mountain trek.
God had other plans.
Hope Runs "is the emotional story of an American tourist, a Kenyan orphan, and the day that would change the course of both of their lives forever. It's" "about what it means to live in the now when the world is falling down around you. It's about what it means to hope for the things you cannot see. Most of all, it's about how God can change your life in the blink of an eye.
-- Wonderful story of what God can do when we let Him move in our lives. I love how we move back and forth in the story between Sammy and Claire, I loved especially Sammy's story. As Americans, we really take for granted everything we have. I thought this story was just a story of adoption, I didn't know that they started a running program and that really made it over the top for me.
This story brought tears to my eyes and I will tell lots of people about this fantastic book. Too bad we all don't have these thoughts, each one of us, one by one.
I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
Posted April 21, 2014
Claire and her college friend Lara decide to spend a year traveling around the world. One of their destinations is Kenya where they end up visiting an orphanage called Imani Children’s Home. During this brief visit, they make the decision to return to the orphanage a few months later and spend a year starting and implementing an extracurricular running program for the orphans. In the course of this year, they befriend Sammy and the relationship deepens. I really liked the format of the book because both Sammy and Claire are given a voice and the chapters alternate between Sammy’s perspective and Claire’s. I appreciated hearing both interpretations of the events during that year at the orphanage as well as reading about their early years before they met. Claire’s observations about the responsibility of giving and the value another culture places on material possessions were insightful. And Sammy’s point of view toward mzungus, white people, was equally astute. The transformation that took place in Claire and Sammy’s lives is a testament to God and an inspiration. And it was interesting to read how their relationship grew and developed and how each had a positive effect on the other. There were times in my reading that I thought the writing was a bit vague and I was wishing for more detail or clarification. For example, Claire wrote, “I went to Mexico because a bad book told me to.” I found myself wondering what she meant and why or how was the book “bad”? Also there were some inconsistencies I found confusing, such as, at the end of chapter one, Sammy stated, “Since that day I have never skipped school.” Yet then in chapter three he mentioned, “because I skipped so much school, there are a lot of holes in my education.” However, overall I thoroughly enjoyed the book and found it fascinating and engaging.
I would recommend this book for those interested in contrasting cultural experiences and those involved in short term missions.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Books in exchange for an honest review.
Posted April 21, 2014
Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption is an inspiring memoir - a story about real people in a cross-cultural setting, a story about growing up, a story of how God brought two people together and both of their lives were all the richer for it. The events as told by both Claire and Sammy are woven together in a consecutive way that makes the narrative flow smoothly. Some parts seem a little long, but the candid and strong story make it an enjoyable memoir, well worth the read. I especially loved Sammy's writing as he gives voice to what growing up in Kenya was like for him.
Taking advantage of a free night's stay at an orphanage, Claire soon discovered that God had much more in mind and began a journey in relationship with one very special child named Sammy. Used to quick visits, Sammy wasn't initially welcoming to Claire and writes: "The typical visitor at Imani shows up without knowing anyone, volunteers a few hours, takes pictures, and then leaves. All without finding out who lives in the orphanage and who we really are as a people. It is terrible for us kids, and it makes us feel mad and hurt all at the same time."
Realizing the orphanage had a need for extracurricular programming and thinking they could train some of the older adolescents for the marathon along with them, Claire and Lara started a nonprofit organization named "Hope Runs" to support a running program. But this outreach wasn't necessarily without problems, and I appreciated the candidness of their writing. The end result is that Sammy works hard and eventually discovers his own calling: "No matter what, I know that my future career will have something to do with children. I am sick and tired of seeing kids sorrowful, and of being sorrowful myself, and I want to make sure that no other kids go through what I went through."
I want to end with some more of Sammy's thoughts, because I feel his words carry an important message for us: "Claire and Lara proved to be different. They came and they were who they are, and we saw it.. . . Instead of being visitors - different people - they became one of us, they became like sisters. It took some time, but eventually we failed to see their skin color; all we could see were the people behind the skin."
I enjoyed getting to know Sammy in Hope Runs and recommend this memoir to readers looking for a true-life story full of hope and promise.
Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Posted April 16, 2014
Wow! Hope Runs is one of those books that leaves you inspired and anxiously awaiting the next "divine appt." that God has for you! What is a divine appointment you ask? Well, my opinion is when God brings a person into your life and HIS plans work through you or them or both of you together to bring Glory to HIS name and purposes! That divine appointment happened when Claire came to know Sammy and how their lives were changed and now others are being changed as well! Gods purposes at work through HIS Divine Appointment? Indeed!
Please take time to read this one! You will be changed! You will be inspired!
I give Hope Runs a 5 ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥'s for sure!!
Thank you Revell for allowing me this complimentary book in exchange for my honest review!
Posted April 14, 2014
Great book, great story! Easy reading and held my interest continually!!
I wasn't really aware of the non-profit "Hope Runs" but the people side of this story is wonderful. Loved reading both accounts of the authors, as chapters flipped back and forth between them.
Accounts of travels are wonderful! Loved hearing about the stories even before she gets to Kenya!! Wonderful to hear of his journey...
I wish that it gave more of a faith story, how God was working in them, but that's ok ... it's "seeker friendly."
I can't wait to read what happens in the next 5-10 years!
Posted April 13, 2014
I feel so uplifted by Sammy’s story. It’s a message of hope and inspiration, reminding me to realize
the blessings that come with life. The statement ”I have nothing to wear” will put things into perspective
when I remember that Sammy really only had one pair of shorts and one shirt. His shoes flapped open
at the toes. His friends Claire and Lara teach him (and his classmates) about love and integrity through
running, laughing, and loving. The story is hard to follow at times, mostly because so much of it is
background information, but it’s the undercurrent of love that really reached my heart. I’ve met children
like Sammy both in my college classmates and then in my own classroom. There are those children
who come from a foreign land, unable to speak this strange language of English yet I can see that
spark in their eyes and know that they’re intelligent, hopeful, and longing to be understood.
In the case of Sammy and his friends, the simplest gift of shoes or even paper becomes a
tangible reminder of their need. Sammy is that child on the commercial that makes you cry.
He’s the one who makes you want to put a little extra in the offering plate on Missions Sunday.
Read this book and you’ll know what I mean. I received this book to review. The opinions shared here are 100% mine.
Posted March 31, 2014
Thoroughly engaging, this book will inspire you on many levels. The story is real-life and each chapter is either narrated by Claire or Sammy as the tale goes back and forth between their different perspectives. We get to know two very different yet very similar souls. We also begin to understand how other cultures behave and value things. Claire is a twenty-something American looking to find her own way in the world. Her friend Lara accompanies her as they travel the world. Sammy is a Kenyan orphan living day to day. When their paths collide, a love grows that can not be put out. This is by no means a romantic love but rather the love of a woman for a child. Sammy sometimes calls Claire his big sister, his aunt, his mother, or just his guardian. Whatever the title, they care deeply for each other as family members. Readers also learn about the charity organization Hope Runs, which is active in the story. A part of the book’s proceeds even go towards the charity. In the middle of the book, there are some full-color photos of international travels for both Claire and Sammy. Well written, this story will make you think twice about the meaning of life and it will make you want to make a different in the world. At the end of the book, you will want to climb your own mountain, whether it be physical or symbolical.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 29, 2014
No text was provided for this review.