It Happened On the Way to War: A Marine's Path to Peace

It Happened On the Way to War: A Marine's Path to Peace

by Rye Barcott


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In 2000, Rye Barcott was a student on an ROTC scholarship when he first visited the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. He wanted to understand the ethnic violence he expected to face in uniform. Once there, Barcott befriended a widowed nurse and a community organizer, and together they built Carolina for Kibera (CFK), an NGO that breaks cycles of violence and develops young leaders in one of Africa's largest slums. Barcott continued his work with CFK while leading Marines in Iraq, Bosnia, and the Horn of Africa. He waged peace while fighting war, and struggled to compartmentalize the experiences and resist darker forces. It Happened on the Way to War is a true story about the powerful melding of military and humanitarian service. It's a story of what America's role in the world could be.

Praise for It Happened on the Way to War:

"Riveting. A beautifully written memoir that reads like a novel and reveals fundamental truths about good, evil, and our common humanity."-Ishmael Beah, author of A Long Way Gone

"A tremendous story of the power of friendship, love, and the transforming grace of God." -Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Novel Peace Prize laureate

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608194315
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 02/28/2012
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 585,230
Product dimensions: 5.58(w) x 8.52(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Rye Barcott founded Carolina for Kibera (CFK) with Salim Mohamed and Tabitha Atieno Festo while he was an undergraduate at UNC Chapel Hill. After graduation, he served as a Marine for five years on active duty. In 2006 ABC World News named then Captain Barcott a Person of the Year for his dual service to Kibera and the Marine Corps. As a Reynolds Social Entrepreneurship Fellow, he earned master's degrees in business and public administration from Harvard. He is currently a member of the World Learning Board of Trustees and a TED Fellow living in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Part I

1 The Grenade 17

2 Big Gota (Fist Bump) 37

3 The Present and the Future Leaders 55

4 "Because I can" 70

5 What's the Key? 81

Part II

6 Doers 95

7 The Sword 110

8 Things Fall Apart 118

9 Messiahs 135

10 Harambee 142

11 War on Trash 161

Part III

12 From Peacetime to Wartime 173

13 Change and Continuity 182

14 Spyderco 196

15 Compartments 213

16 Grass, Flower, and Wind 229

17 The Manuscript 250

18 The Elephant and the Velvet Glove 262

19 Eleven Years Old and His Life Is Already Behind Him 283

20 Impact 304

Epilogue 321

Acknowledgments 337

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It Happened on the Way to War: A Marine's Path to Peace 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
zenart More than 1 year ago
"It Happened On the Way to War" is a fascinating book. I really enjoyed it, but more importantly, I learned from it. Rye Barcott shares with the reader his experiences trying to bring aid to the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. His unrelenting dedication to the people of this area leads him to establish an organization called Carolina for Kibera (CFK). He is attending the University of North Carolina and when he visits Kibera he establishes significant relationships with a nurse, Tabitha; a young man named Kash, and a gentleman named Salim. All three of these figures assist him in setting up sports programs for children and a health clinic to provide a better life for the residents of this poverty stricken community. I was so impressed by his dedication to his goal. Not only does Rye learn Swahili, but he gets to know the people of Kibera, living as modestly as they do amidst poor sanitation, HIV/Aids, other illnesses and much violence. While doing all this, Rye continues to pursue his education as well as his goal to be a dedicated Marine. You have to admire a man like Rye Barcott. He never loses sight of his goal and he understands how to focus on achieving it. He hones the art of networking, meeting influential politicians, pursuing fundraising for his organization and is even able to attract some key people in the military to assist him. The work he and his friends accomplish is outstanding and has a ripple effect on others living in poverty in Kibera. For example, he discovers that a group of women have now started an organization to empower themselves. They sell power beads they craft to support services that help other women cope with HIV/aids. The author explains how supportive his parents always are and just how much their ideals encouraged him to pursue his dreams. The key for Rye Barcott seems to be his deep desire to "make a difference", to have an impact on the lives of others. He explains that he always felt he would die young and this motivated him to get things accomplished early on in his life. As he reaches age 30 and he is in fine health, he realizes he will not die young, yet he is still motivated to achieve great things. He serves in the Marine Corps in the intelligence department, attends Harvard University for a Masters Degree, marries his college sweetheart Tracy, and does all this while dedicating any spare time he has to his organization CFK. This book is well written and demonstrates the power of soul to soul connections among people. After reading Rye Barcott's book, one understands that the key to bringing about lasting social change among those who are living in poverty is to reach out with both financial aid and the power of a healing heart. The world needs more people like Rye Barcott to address all its social issues and bring peace and prosperity to those who suffer unecessarily. The best part of this book is expressed in the author's ability to share his innermost thoughts with his reader. Barcott admits when he is frustrated, exhausted, overwhelmed and even disappointed with his friends and the marine corps. Here is an example of his honesty regarding his 6 month tour in Iraq. "My combat experiences were nowhere near as intense, tragic and terrifying as many others'. But they allowed me a glimpse into the abyss and its seductive, slippery force. It didn't take long for me to begin to move down the slope. Within weeks in Fallujah I experienced moments of bloodlust, t
bibliophileofalls on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a book about what one person can accomplish based on his experiences in Africa when he was a young man. He used these experiences to found a non-profit organization to help people of Kenya especially in the slums of Kibera, where living conditions were unimaginably atrocious. During a time span of approximately ten years, Rye Barcott worked part of the year in Kenya and also attended college and served a stint in the Marines. He graduated from the University of Carolina and the organization he founded was called CFK (Carolina for Kibera). He taught the youth of Kibera to play soccer which ultimately showed them how to get along with each other. Through his efforts CFK has established a health clinic in an area of Kenya which had virtually no medical care prior to this. CFK has grown to a large, effective organization with donations coming from the Gates Foundation and other philanthropic organizations. This was a very inspiring book and I recommend it to anyone who likes to read about people with perseverance and tenacity accomplishing good in the world.
co_coyote on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I returned from a month spent in Ethiopia to find this book on my desk. Barcott, as an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina, formed an organization to support youth in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, a neighbor of Ethiopia. It was fascinating to read this book and compare it with my own experience walking the streets of Addis Ababa. Everything about it rang true to me, including the ambiguity, the difficulty in understanding another culture, the uncertain nature of what you thought you believed strongly. But, clearly, this is a young man who is willing to confront the world head on, with his mind and heart wide open to the experience. Sometimes the problems of Africa seem so large as to be unmanageable. Barcott doesn't let that stop him, and plunges in anyway. Good for him and good for anyone who is willing to follow his inspiring example.
motivatedmomma on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am in awe of Rye Barcott and his book, "It Happened on the Way to War: A Marine's Path to Peace. This memoir tells the story of Barcott , young college grad and soon to be a Marine and his fortuitous journey to Kiberra -- one of the worst slums in Africa. Barcott wanted to research ethnic violence. Once there, Barcott develops the nonprofit, Carolina for Kiberra with the whopping sum of 26 dollars! This memoir tells the duel story of the development of the nonprofit and its amazing accomplishments along with the development of Barcott as a Marine and the predicaments of keeping the two goals separate but equal. Barcott has told an amazing true story-- he gives me inspiration in our next generation.
ljpower on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It is always interesting to hear of an individual who is inspired to take on a project of great magnitude in order to improve humanity. Rye Barcott has given us an uplifting memoir of his efforts to initiate change in Kiberia, Kenya.He is not alone in his quest and has the help of several people, notably Salim and Tabitha, who show him how just a small amount of goodwill can reap huge benefits. But it is his simple idea of finding and promoting community leaders in an urban slum that brings so many people together to focus on the problem. Their support and the help of the right mentors lead him to his life's work, while at the same time serving his country in Iraq. The challenges and successes make this story so inspiring and his path also lead to his own self-discovery and introspection, of which he gave us only a small glimpse. I would like to learn more about his original motivation and how it changed over the decade but I foresee more to come from this author.
brinnafrieds on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rye's book was honest, engaging and inspiring. Rye has juggled the very different, and sometimes conflicting worlds of serving in the military and running a non profit. It wasn't the most entertaining books I've ever read, but I loved Rye's raw honesty of the difficulty of change. Change doesn't happen without a fight, and without many setbacks, and he makes the very clear.
hippygirl26 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book and I wasn't sure if I would. It was very well written and thought provoking. It seemed like an honest and relatable book. I think I might be able to get my husband to read this book, which would be quite an accomplishment!
momtorghj on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book - surprising to me because the last book I read about an American traveling to third world countries to "do good" was awful (don't read Ashley Judd's memoir)! Even though I grew up in a very mission-minded church, I had not heard of Kibera in Kenya and was glad to have the chance to learn more about Nairobi's slums. I found Rye Barcott's style very engaging and he did not spend too much time "tooting his own horn" but rather describing the people he met and bringing us alongside with caring about them.One criticism I do have is that I would have liked to know more details about how he ended up in the Marines in the first place. He did spend a few pages talking about his upbringing but I couldn't quite put my finger on why the Marines instead of a non-profit. I did appreciate his internal struggles between his two responsibilities and maybe this book will encourage other men and women who have served in the armed forces and loved the country they served in, to return to it after the fact to make positive change.
dele2451 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Being a 20-year military member as well as a seasoned veteran of volunteer work for nonprofit organizations, I felt a special attraction to Mr Barcott's story. His subject matter could not be more important or timely and he covers it in an accessible fashion. I applaud young Rye not only for his numerous humanitarian and service accomplishments, but for taking the time to commit his story to paper and get it published--a sometimes tedious process that many very busy people let fall to the wayside. I particularly appreciated his candor in sharing his fears (for his personal safety as well as those of his nonprofit), uncertainties and occasional miscalculations with the larger audience as they help others who hope to pursue similar projects. If I was forced to come up with a criticism of the book, it would be that the "aw shucks, I'm just a regular guy who kind of fell into this by accident' tone ran thin after a while. Thankfully, he started growing out of it by the end of his Iraq tour. I applaud and understand the attempt at humility, but one trait of good leaders is accepting genuine praise gracefully and without embarrassment. Otherwise this is a heroic, inspirational and important story that I would confidently recommend to just about anybody except the family members of military members preparing to deploy overseas. Thank you, Mr Barcott and Early Reviewers!
cee2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rye Barcott is a young man who wants to make a difference in the world and he does it with a rare balancing act. As he follows in his father's martial footsteps by becoming a Marine Corps officer, he also manages to start and enlist support for CFK, an NGO in Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi, Kenya.What I liked most about this book is Barcott's honest sharing of his thoughts and his failures, as well as his successes. He gives credit to others, where it is due. His plan is not one of trickle-down development but to work with the people of Kibera, to listen to their plans, to honor and support their intelligence and skills. It was also an eye-opener to see how the Marines found ways to allow him to continue his work in Kibera, starting with his ROTC days through his five years of service.The book is fascinating, uplifting, and well worth one's reading time.
hays1981 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was absolutely amazing. A great read if you liked Little Princes or Not on our watch. Rye is an amazing person struggling between two worlds that have such different effects on the world. He set up a NGO at such a young age and is impressive. I have suggested all my friends read this book and donate $26. I know I did!
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Karen Izerne More than 1 year ago
Two great forms of service. From all the books i have read this year this one was one of the best.
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rockandrollmama More than 1 year ago
This story is a testament to how things happen.The answer: Disparate groups of humans band together and MAKE them happen, by caring, by creating networks, by recognizing the common good in each other. Rye Barcott, Tabitha, and Salim created such a network in Kibera, and its ripples are felt around this globe. Please read this book- and then please share it.
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Police-Dispatcher More than 1 year ago
A truely captivating and fascinating journey. I recommend everyone read this book as I believe everyone will enjoy it.
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