Hey, everybody, thanks for tuning in to another episode of Thoughts of a Random Citizen. Today, I have an interview with Shaun SF Banks, a very entertaining guest, so I appreciate his energy on this podcast. We talk about a heap of things that he is involved in right now, a youth magazine that is operating around the world, a youth camp that he runs down there in Georgia. In addition to an orphanage that he runs over in East Africa, which is hands down my favorite part of this conversation and we dive into really just the perspective in eye-opening stories that he experienced over there.
I think if Shaun’s light on to some of the luxuries that certain people have in parts of the world as opposed to what others don’t have in other parts of the world. A fantastic conversation and I really hope you guys enjoy. We’re just jumping in, man, I’m excited.
Tell me about this magazine because I have no idea you had a magazine. That was very sick.
Yes, man, it’s called You Can Have It All. It’s a motivational magazine. It is pretty much the only motivational magazine, well, youth motivation magazine of its kind in the world. It’s all about motivating kids to go after their dreams and be inspired by other kids that have dreams. For example, an issue we have up now, we have kids that are doing dirt biking, they’re doing all kinds of martial arts stuff. I have a kid that’s running track, one of the fastest kids in the US, and then there’s puzzles, there’s games, there’s fashion, there’s all kinds of stuff for kids for them to be inspired.
Like a kid, you don’t know what you want to do until you see it. It’s like, “Oh, that might look cool. I want to try that.” We put it in a magazine so that they could be able to do it.
Okay, nice. With the magazine, how does that print work? Do you guys print that? Is it all through you? Do you have somebody else work with you? Can you walk
Sure. Yes. We have third-party printing, so we don’t print anything here. We send it all out and it gets printed and then it gets distributed or we’ll distribute it from our office, but we have someone else that prints it. We also have a digital copy just because digital is a lot easier if we want to get it.
Other parts of the country or other parts of the world because some people just want to be on their phone, looking at stuff but then also, the cost of shipping is expensive, so we don’t want people to have to pay extra money. They’ll pay twice for a magazine just to get it shipped to their house.
Man, that’s sweet. I’m just want to jump into the episode because we already started talking about that news interesting for me. I’m going to ask about your background, but one more thing on that magazine, I know you said it’s international. Do you feed your kids from all across the country, all across the world, or how does that work out?
All across the country, all around the world. The magazine is relatively new. So far, we’ve been able to have someone contributing from somewhere in the world like this issue. We have writers from Australia, we have some kids that submitted artwork from Trinidad and Tobago. We have, let’s see, next month, we have someone writing from Malaysia, so it’s growing. It’s growing and as it grows, and they know youth in their areas who want to be in a magazine and do things so that’s how it’s grown.
Initially, yes, a lot of the kids were out of Atlanta because that’s where I’m from. Then we started getting other kids from the States and growing.
Well, can you walk us through for all the listeners who are like, “What the hell”? Can you walk us through your background kind of what you did? I know you’re in real estate for a bit. If you want to highlight that, I’m going to ask you questions on it but who is Shaun SF Banks? Who are you?
Man, well, originally from Seattle, Washington, and got into youth development, almost on accident. I didn’t want to work with kids at all. Couldn’t stand kids, man. I didn’t want to engage to kids at all. I was in the finance industry on the finance side of real estate. Back in 2008 when the market changed, it was hard to get deals closed. A buddy of mine had working out at a martial art school said, “Man, maybe we should start teaching kids martial arts?” I said, “Well, all right, that’s the way to make money.”
It’s like I got to figure out something because it was just the bills are piling up and the deals aren’t closing. One plus one equals two, you got figured out how to make some money. That’s what I started doing against my interest and it started growing from there. When I was about 17, my aunt and cousin were murdered in a domestic violence situation and I’d always said that I wanted to do something in their honor to be able to help other people if I could. I never thought that it would come out this way.
When I started the martial arts program, I was able to do something in their honor to be able to teach women how to defend themselves, to be able to teach kids martial arts. What I found with doing that was that there are a lot of kids that needed personal development. They needed to learn confidence, skills, how to improve their focus, their discipline, how to make a friend, how to have better work ethic, and I looked around and those skills weren’t being taught anywhere else.
I said, “Okay. Well, maybe this is a need, we can start filling.” That’s where Camp Warrior King came from. Then, the Camp Warrior King came and said, “Okay, there’s–” I just kept seeing other needs. That’s where all this stuff started coming from, was just trying to fill all the needs that I saw that needs to be met.
That’s incredible. What led you from that transition to, “I don’t want to work with kids,” because I get that especially when you’re younger, but what was that transition that when there’s no way I want to mess with that, too, now, what you do, and all of that you do with the youth?
I started seeing the need and I started seeing the results of when they would get personal development, workshops, or lessons, and when they start to apply them to their lives that it actually worked. When I started seeing that it worked, it’s like, “Okay, man, we can really start helping people.” The desire started growing out of my heart. You started seeing kids who walk around and didn’t have any self-esteem, they couldn’t make a friend, they didn’t have– wouldn’t play sports or they wouldn’t have interest because you don’t always have to have any interest in sports.
They wouldn’t have an interest and then they will come to our programs or come to our camps, and then they would come out with an insurance, they will come up with a friend, they would hold their head up high, they will walk differently, they would be able to deal with somebody bullying them, or how to deal with it, or a bully would come through, and the bully would be changed. We started seeing a lot of transformation. That’s where my heart that really got into it. There’s nothing I’d rather be doing now in what I’m doing, which is crazy, because I never work well with kids at all.
Yes, no joke. I’m trying to focus on this transition a bit to what specifically the startup look like because obviously, you were helping teach MMA. What kind of went from that–? Did you form classes? How did you outreach to the youth? Was it all through that MMA? Was it your MMA? I guess if you can walk us through with that.
Sure, sure. The way it started is we started going to schools because that’s where the kids were. They were just said, we would go to an elementary school or middle school, say, “Hey, look, they’re a martial arts program here, and if not, we want to teach one here and this would be a good way for the kids to get disciplined in school and focus and improve their grades.” It started like that.
I started with three or four kids in the first school, and then those kids will tell other kids, and then they will see the kids with the uniforms on, walking around, and stuff like that, then more kids want to be involved.
Yes, of course.
Yes. Then, we’ll start growing from there. I was a Taekwondo and Hapkido instructor by trade, so I teach them traditional Taekwondo. The parents would come and watch the classes. When the parents watch the classes, then the moms will say, “Well, hey, listen, I work late at night,” or, “I’m a single mom at home,” or, “I’ve been through some kind of situation, I want to be able to protect myself. Do you have anything for us?” It’s like, “Well, I can create something. Give me a second. [laughs] Let me put something together.”
He put together a curriculum and then we start teaching their moms. What happened is during the summertime, school is out. In the US, there’s no school during the summer, so then it’s okay. What are you going to do during the summertime? Well, that’s like three months’ worth of time. The need was kids didn’t have anything to do and then we also need to continue to generate revenue. We open up a camp because that’s what’s going on. I looked around, I thought there were camps everywhere in the Atlanta area.
There are camps, but there was nothing like Camp Warrior King, which is what we do, and which is all about exposure to activity. Then, we started doing fishing, hunting, hiking, spelunking, and taking them out to– We did an oceanographers trip this past summer where they got to see– they drag the bottom of the ocean and pulled up all this stuff for the kids to be able to see squid and all kinds of fish and crap. We just started doing all that. We’re starting to expose them to different things that kids could find different interests.
Wow. That’s incredible. Can you walk us through what that camp atmosphere is like? How long is it? Man, for me, being a kid, I would have absolutely loved something like this.
Yes, absolutely. Camp Warrior King is a youth development camp that exposes kids to activities that normally wouldn’t experience during the school year. It’s like a camp on steroids, man. There’s assemblies in the morning. We go on field trips three or four times a week. Like I say, we’re going hiking, fishing, oh my gosh, rollerskating, boxing, karate, fashion classes, Lego robotics. We do haircutting classes, we do cosmetology classes. There’s girls that learn how to do hair. They could do their little sister’s hair or their friend’s hair at camp.
We have art classes, we had a bike loop at camp this past year, where kids were able to ride their bikes around camp, bring their bikes from home, leave them in our gym, and ride them around during their free time because if their parents are working, the kids only get to ride the bikes on the weekends or when they’re at home. Now, they can ride their bikes at camp. We had a car and bike show at camp this year, where these different guys came with all these clown cars and souped-up hot rod cars for the kids. The lunch is good. We had a celebrity basketball game this past summer.
Yes, man. It’s anything the kids want to do. We go to museums, we went to Chattanooga, did an adventure up there. We’ve been down to Florida to the space museum, the Kennedy Space Center. Whatever the kids want to do, man, we try to keep them engaged. We have music classes, so we’ve done violin lessons, we’ve done cello, holding a piano, we’ve done guitar, we’ve done saxophone lessons at camp during the summer time. It’s about 10 weeks and it’s 10 weeks full of just crazy fun. It’s a day camp.
The kids come. we open at 7:00 in the morning. They come all day long and then their parents pick them up in the afternoon and take them home.
Wow. I bet they love that because they have a tired kid at the end of the day.
They have a tired kid, man. The kids are tired and dirty at the end of the day. Yes, man.
Do you find it easy to find because I’m assuming you don’t teach all those things specifically the helpers to work with that, is it pretty easy? Is it on a volunteer basis?
Well, we pay the people to come in and work. Paying them makes it easier to get them interested.
Consistent, yes, obviously.
Right, but finding good people is always a challenge, especially with everything that happened with COVID. This past season was really hard to find people that wanted to work because people were able to make money staying at home but we were fortunate to find a good amount of people that wanted to work and work with the kids. I’m always looking for people that have a passion to work with kids because that makes a difference.
If somebody is doing it just for the money and they don’t like kids, then they don’t really stick around because working with kids, sometimes the money’s not worth it. It’s like, man, you got to deal with this seven-year-old that wants to tell you their mind. Sometimes it’s not worth getting the checks. You got to really– [chuckles] It’s like now you take off the belt and whoop him, and that’s your kid. You got to find people that care about the kids.
Yes, man. I did something like that. Well, not specifically that, but I was a lifeguard way back when I was younger. There was this thing in the mornings and we had a nickname for it that I won’t repeat, but it was pretty much before the water park opened, there was like a youth camp, essentially, next door to the water park. It was an hour, an hour and a half, I can’t remember, and man, it was like absolute chaos. They’re all young, so you have to be careful and really focused.
You get the ones that just come up and blah blah blah blah, you got to go away now. No, it was good. You had the good ones, you had the bad ones. It is what it is. Do you have any plans? I know, and we’re going to dive into what you do in Uganda, and I’m very excited to ask questions about that, but do you have any plans to expand elsewhere in the US or internationally?
For the camp, you mean?
Yes, for the youth camp and what you do.
Okay. For the youth camp, as far as expanding the camp, I don’t plan to expand the camp. I like it being a boutique kind of camp where it’s a single location and people come to it. There is such a great liability when it comes to working with children that keeping it small works. I’ll look more into consulting other people on how to run a great camp, how to do what we’re doing is more of what we’ll do in the future as opposed to opening up camps all over. I don’t– I mean, it’s just– Yes. [chuckles]
That’s a headache, right?
Oh my goodness, yes. I think about just how it is. It’s just this one camp. I couldn’t imagine doing 30 of them.
Yes, actually. That just doesn’t sound fun.
No, not at all.
Talking about what you do in Bombo, Uganda. I think I’m pronouncing that right. I know it is an orphanage. Man, what made you want to go to Africa? How easy has it been? How did you figure out how to do it? So many questions. Can you just walk us through that?
Sure, sure. No problem. I originally went back in 2019, right before COVID.
So you had been to Africa before?
The first time I went is where everything started. I went to do a conference. We were invited to do a You Can Have It All conference in Uganda. I agreed to do it. It took us about a year to get everything situated in the planet. Everybody on my team was supposed to go, people I work with camp, and different people I knew that were interested in going to Africa and being able to help out with the conference. At the end of the day, everybody had quit that was supposed to go. I was the only one left that was still going to go. I said, “You know what–“
Because of COVID?
No, this is before COVID. This is before COVID. This is way before COVID.
Why did everyone quit?
Well, I don’t know. That’s the question. People, they didn’t get their shots on time. They didn’t get their passport. They just didn’t do the things they were supposed to do. It’s like with anything when you start, a lot of people say, “Hey, yes, I’ll do it with you, man. Let’s go. It sounds good.” When it’s time to actually do it, then they fall off and that’s what happened to me. I said I’m going to go anyway. I went by myself, which people say, “You’re crazy to go by yourself. You haven’t been over there. It’s east Africa. What are you doing?”
I said I’ll go. I went there. There were four gentlemen that met me there, Matthew, Shadrack, Enoch, and Joel were the four men that met me there. Man, they took care of me the whole time I was there for the conference. Everything that we did was able to go without a hitch. Well, I’ll take that back. There was a lot of hitches. There were a lot of challenges, but obviously, I made it through. What happened is Matthew had an orphanage that was struggling. He said, “I don’t know if we’re going to be able to keep the doors open because we don’t have the finances to keep it open.”
They had about 30 or 40 kids there. Joel and Enoch, two of the guys that were helping were from the orphanage and had grown out of it. You’re able to see that they were able to come out and be productive citizens. Joel is in the computers, Enoch is into photography. They were able to come out. It was doing some good. I said, “Okay, how about we take over the orphanage and support these kids that are here so that they can be able to go to school? They could get food and clothing and all that stuff,” because the building itself was just a shell.
If you look at an abandoned building, you see just the brick walls, there’s nothing in between. It’s just literally brick walls, dirt floors with trash on them, no doors, no windows, nothing, no kitchen, no bathrooms, nothing. That’s what the kids were living in like a tin-top. That was what they had. When I saw it, I was just like, “Man–” When I saw the level of poverty and the child homelessness problem they have there, I said, “Man, there’s something that we can do about it. We can do something. Maybe we can connect with people in the US. We can do something about it.”
That’s where it started. I help the kids in the US and all I could think was, “Man, these kids in the US are so spoiled. They have shoes.” They have shoes, they have lots of shoes, they have cars, they have parents at home, they have all this food, and all this stuff. These seven-year-old kids are eating out of trash cans. We went to give the kids food. We had to make sure we had enough food for every single child because, if not, the children would fight over bread and we’re just giving them bread and soda, man.
That’s where it started. That’s where it came from. I came back and I just was committed and then COVID hit.
Well, first off, I’d like to say, not only do kids in the US have shoes, but they have Nike shoes and Jordan shoes. It’s quality. It’s a different ballgame. I was going to say that’s funny, but not really. How long was that experience before COVID?
That experience was about a year before COVID.
Okay. Has there been much difficulty because that’s something you still do now as what’s the difficulty been after COVID with the orphanage?
Well, the thing is we’ve been able to do more than the last several months. I would say the last 90 days really we’ve been able to get more done in that time than any other time. We’ve been able to get windows on the orphanage, doors on the orphanage, we got just the brick wall, we got spackles. Now, it looks a normal wall in the house. We got the floors done so that the kids aren’t sleeping on just rocky dirt floor. We’re getting beds put in. We’ve been able to do a lot in the last couple of months.
During COVID, it was all about just keeping them fed because the country was on lockdown. You could only go to the store to get food and then come back home. In Uganda, especially in certain cities, there are day workers. You go out during the day and you make money for the day. If you can’t leave your house, you can’t make money, which means that you don’t have money to buy food for the day because a lot of them don’t have refrigerators. They don’t have all the luxuries.
It’s like, “Okay, we got to eat today. I’m going to go out and sell something or provide a taxi service or a boda boda,” which is like a little motorcycle that people ride on, which I swore I would never do in and then end up having to it. That added some gray hair, so that made it really difficult.
The thing over COVID was let’s just keep them fed because the schools were shut down. Let’s keep them fed, let’s keep the kids fed. That was the biggest mission. Once we were able to get through that, then it was okay, now let’s start adding onto the orphanage.
Let’s start building, let’s start getting some things done, set the kids have some comfort. That’s what we’re working on now. Yes, man.
I haven’t actually been to Africa yet, I will. I’m looking forward to it but I’m not sure, is Uganda, you said East Africa, is that a dangerous area?
It depends. It wasn’t dangerous when I was there. There wasn’t any fighting going on. Kampala is a major city and that’s the capital. That’s where I stayed in between there and going out when I did a conference in Jinja is where I was. When I was in Jinja, the hotel I stayed, it was nice as well. As long as there’s not any conflict going on, it’s fine. I didn’t have any issues at all. As a matter of fact, the issue I had was with the government because I was taking pictures.
We were getting ready to go over the Nile River. They had pictures of my conference all on the bridge and so I got excited, pulled out my phone and started video recording like, “Yo, that’s me. Those are my pictures. Look at me.” I’m super excited and, man, they radioed it to the other side of the bridge. when we got over there, man, they pulled us. They said I had to get out of the van. That’s when I had to get on a boda boda, the one I swore I’d never get on.
I had to get on the back of a motorcycle with one of the soldiers and go back over the bridge and go and speak to the captain of their unit. “Where have you been? What are you doing here? Who are you?”
That’s exactly what I did. He said, “Why are you here?” I said, “Sir, listen,” because I’m not going to go sit in jail in Uganda. I’m not doing it.
I’d be freaking out.
Well, I was trying not to. On the inside, it was like a whole freak-out party going on. On the outside, I was trying to be cool because I said, well, I’m having a call like the US embassy. I do something to get out to this situation but I didn’t want to go there yet. I said, “Hey listen, if you just go down to the bottom of this heel, all of us doing was recording the pictures that are down there. I’m getting ready to speak at a conference that I put together. I put this whole conference together. Those are my pictures.”
I was recording him, “We’re on our way to go to speak right now.” He looked at me in a straight face, didn’t smile at all, he said something to one of the guys that went away or were just sitting there. They went down to the hill, came back and he said, “Man, please forgive me. I’m so sorry.” He said, “I did not realize that was you.” He said, “Me and my soldiers are planning to come here and you speak tonight. Will you pray for us, man, please I’m so, so sorry.” I was like, “I will absolutely pray for you. Yes, whatever you need.”
It was cool. They gave me back my information. They let me go. They said, “Man, if you need anything, please let us know while you’re here.” I left and I got to the church location just enough time to get on stage. I walked in, went upstairs, I had to get on stage to start speaking. That was the only challenge I had. The mistake I made was that it was a military installation. Right across the other side of the river was their water treatment facility, and they had recently been in conflict with, I want to say, Rwanda and so people come in spy, and take pictures all the time.
They were making sure that I wasn’t doing the same thing. I was wrong. I just didn’t realize it. I was excited. Once they got it cleared out, we were good.
I was about to say why would they care if you’re taking photos but it’s because it was a military base. That totally is.
Yes, it was a military base.
Do they speak English there well? Was it easy everyone?
Some of them do. Most of them like in the city, around the hotel and stuff like that, they speak pretty good English. A lot of people speak pretty broken English. The guys I was with, it was pretty good. It’s off and on.
Well, that’s incredible. How did they find you? What was the conference about? I guess what was all that about?
The conference was about developing youth. It was all about motivating youth to go out to their dreams. That’s what the You Can Have It All conferences about. The gentleman found me online. It’s how they found me and said, “Hey, look, we would love to have you, come out one day, and do a conference here for the kids. We think it would really help them.” I was just ambitious like, “Yes, let’s do it.”
I think they thought I was joking until they started realizing I was real about it. Like, “All right, cool. Let’s go. Let’s do the conference,” but it’s all about that. We did a field day for the kids. They played soccer, we did different soccer games, we did different activities with them. We gave prizes and we did a talent show. Yes, man, we gave out goats to people that won. It was super cool.
Goats, like an actual goat?
Like [imitating the sound of goat] goat.
Yes, that’s what I thought.
Yes, like a whole live animal because I asked, “Should we just give them money or what should we do?” They said, “No, no, no. Let’s give them something really would appreciate. We can get a goat.” I was like, “All right, cool. Let’s do it.” We got videos and pictures when we get the goat. Yes, man, they’re excited about it.
Wow, that’s incredible. Do you find that kind of orphanage helps you educate youth back home a bit or do you use that a lot? Do you have any plans to connect that someday somehow?
Yes, absolutely. The orphanage I definitely use it to teach with kids all the time, especially kids in the US because, for them, they need to understand how fortunate they are. Even though there’s kids in the US that deal with a lot of challenges at home, of course, there’s a child homelessness issue here, which I’m sure there is in other parts of the world, but even still, there’s a lot more opportunities available. I talk to them about that, especially the kids at our camp.
“Hey, look, you guys have video games and all this stuff, there’s kids that don’t have lights at all. Let’s have a little bit more empathy. Let’s not waste the food that you’re eating. If you don’t want it, don’t put it on your plate. Don’t just throw it in the trash because there are kids that have to eat out of a trash can.” I use it to talk to them about it all the time. The kids at our camp, we’ve sent shoes over, they’ve sent clothes over.
I try to get the kids involved with the orphanage so that they have a sense of appreciation and also a sense of wanting to help other people. The other thing that’s really interesting you that I talk to the kids about is the difference in the level of happiness. The kids in Uganda, they’re smiling all the time. They may not have a lot of physical things, material things, but man, they’re happy kids.
Whereas we have a lot of kids that we service that their parents have fancy cars, they have these beautiful homes, they have all this stuff but yet the kids, they’re suffering from depression or dealing with all these other issues in their life that they can’t handle. There’s something to be said there. That all these things don’t necessarily make a difference. The kids they don’t know they’re poor.
What’s happiness to a lot of those kids sometimes in Uganda is they’ll make a ball out of trash and string, and play soccer and they’re happy, they’re having a ball. Whereas the kids over here some of them have 10 balls at home and they’ll say they’re bored.
Yes, literally. Wow. Do you find that– because obviously, you’re probably not having to do a whole lot of mental health issues over there like you would back home. What are the educational resources that are given to those in Uganda?
Primarily paying for them to go to school because you have to pay for school there. It’s just making sure they can go to school which is a big deal so school’s not free. You have to pay to actually go to school and then pencils, paper, other basic supplies that they need to be able to go and that’s what we do because if you can’t pay for school, then you can’t go. Then, it’s definitely a class situation. If you can’t afford the education, then you don’t get it. In the way that they are able to get jobs is they have to have an education. They have to gone to school. That’s what we want to fund is make sure they’re able to get that education.
Is there much opportunity for jobs over there? If they obtain the education, is the infrastructure growing?
Kampala’s one of the fastest-growing cities in the world actually.
I know, right? I didn’t either, but it’s a fast-growing city and so the opportunities are growing for factories and things like that. Believe it or not, China is one of the bigger players in it because when you think about it from an international business standpoint, you have labor in China, but then for China, it’s like, “Okay, well, where do we go to get the labor even cheaper than what we’re paying our people because now they have a thrive in middle class?” Now, they’re going to where people are even less fortunate.
They’re going to places like Eastern Africa and places like that, buying up the real estate, buying up and creating open-up factories. Yes, it is creating jobs and opportunities, but you have to have a certain level of education to be able to get there. Yes, so opportunities are opening up, not as fast as they would like, but a lot faster than what’s been in the past.
Do you find that relationship is beneficial in a healthy relationship? The Chinese coming in and helping build infrastructure and I guess get that cheaper labor, are people liking that general? Is that a positive development?
I’m pretty sure, you can probably find some that are really excited about it and some that probably aren’t. Just because anytime, an outside government comes into a place and starts creating jobs and they bring in their own policies, and then it’s a money thing. Then, it’s a relationship between governments. I’m pretty sure there are people who are really, really, really excited about it to be able to get a job and be able to take care of their families.
At the same time, there has to be some displacement going on, but the people who are like, “Nah, we don’t want them here for whatever reason.” I’m pretty sure on both sides there’s an issue but what I’ve seen is– when I was there, I saw a lot of plants and I saw people working so I know that that’s a good thing.
Okay, so you have the orphanage, you have the youth camp. Is there anything else that you’re involved? On top of that, how do you manage all this on your end just day-to-day? Because obviously, this is a podcast to help entrepreneurs innovate ideas, can you walk us through your day-to-day?
Well, for me, it’s all about time management is extremely important and learning to delegate is a big deal. Now, technology has made it available for business owners, especially aspiring business owners to be competitive and make things happen. There’s all these different apps and things now. You can hire somebody to do a job anywhere in the world. As long as they’re good at doing it, then you benefit from that job being done and you also get it at a better price.
Here, in the US, to get someone to do, let’s just say, create a flyer might cost $40 but I can go on an app and get somebody that’ll do that same flyer for $10. You can create your whole business structure or the majority of your business structure with people that are willing to work all around the globe. You no longer have to have a brick-and-mortar business, where you have to house all these people and deal with all the issues of having employees. You can pretty much advantage of freelance workers or freelance work from people around the world and be able to make it happen.
That’s how I’ve been able to get so much done because it’s hard to find people that want to work right here. When they want to, then it’s like, they want to charge you these crazy prices. It’s like, “Man, I’m not paying that for a job that I know I can get done easier somewhere else.” My day-to-day has become finding people around the world that want to do the jobs I need to have done, and then letting them do those jobs.
It is a lot– and then they’re working, so sometimes when I’m sleeping, they’re working because it’s daytime over there and it’s nighttime here and so now the work is getting done all the time.
Is there any opportunity for that to connect and give opportunities to the orphanage, for example? Like, is there much technology learning? I know you said that one, there’s a photographer guy and a computer guy so I just didn’t know.
I think, in time, we’ll be able to do it. Right now, we got to get lights in the building. [laughs] Right now, we got to get lights in there. For some of them, there’s such a huge disparity between wealth and poverty there. It’s like either you have it or you don’t. There’s really no middle class. It would be great to be able to have kids at the orphanage to be able to do some things we need to have done.
It’s just getting them in a position where they have the skills to do it and then they have the resources, IE the computers, or whatever they need to be able to get the jobs done, but that would be great.
Yes, it’s difficult to teach technology when they don’t have energy.
They don’t have energy, yes. They would love to learn it and they would love to have it at the same time. They don’t have energy, they don’t have beds. It’s like, “Okay, let’s get them in some beds, so they’re not sleeping on the dirt floor and maybe let’s get them a kitchen so somebody could cook them some hot food that they don’t have to create fire for it and open fire and cook. Let’s get them some bathrooms with some running water.”
We have all these other steps we have to get to before we can get them to start being productive, as well as get them educated so they know how to read and how to write. While they’re young, as opposed– you don’t want to have to teach a 17-year-old how to read and write. It’s a lot harder than–
Man, how much of a perspective did that just change for you when you went up? Just because cooking on an open fire but not only like it’s not just you turn on a gas oven, it’s literally, you have to create– How much of a perspective shock, I guess, was it to you?
Major shock. It was a major shock for me. That was part of what made me want to step in and to do something about it where I could, because it was like, “Wait a minute, where’s the kitchen.” I’m walking around, I’m like, “Well, where do they eat? Where’s the kitchen.” They point over to the dirt and it’s a dirt mound that’s burned and you see firewood, charred firewood on the ground.
I’m like, “No, but where’s the kitchen? Where do they eat?” They’re like, “Right there, that’s where we cook our food. That’s where we cook for the 30, 40 kids. We cook right here outside.” It was just like, “Wow.” In culture, the thing is that if a lot of people are doing the same thing, it doesn’t seem like there’s anything wrong with it. It’s totally cool, cooking outside, this is how we eat.
When you know that there are other people that can sit down at a table and cook on a stove and when you know the difference, it’s like, “Man, okay, what could these children do if they had some of the same kind of opportunities to just be able to get a hot plate or to be able to sleep in the bed so that their mind isn’t thinking about, ‘How am I going to make it or is this orphanage going to get closed down?’ but more so what can I become to be able to be a contributor to my country?”
Some of them want to be doctors, they want to be nurses, they want to be engineers, they want to be all these things. It’s just getting them there.
Yes, it’s hard to think about anything else when you’re struggling for the next meal. Your brain’s not focused on anything else.
It’s not focusing on anything else, man.
No joke, so are you having any success or are you attempting to try to get individuals back home, obviously, the US is quite a wealthy nation who are interested in donating or investing or doing any of this to aid what you are doing over there?
Yes, so we’re working on it now. That’s one of the things that we’re doing and we’re starting to see traction with that. People that want to be able to contribute and want to be able to help. That’s one of the things over the last several months that’s allowed us to do what we’re doing is that people have been hearing about it and saying, “Hey, look, we want to be able to help.” That’s one of the reason why the podcasts have been a great help because there’s a lot of people that have a big heart. “I want to help this and go where?”
“Okay, well, like, sure, I don’t mind. I would love to help an organization, but where do I do it? Where do I go?” Then, two, making sure that there’s a sense of transparency that people can see. One of the things about with our orphanage that’s really good is that when people contribute, they’re able to see where the contribution went. They can see the videos of, “Hey, this is how it looked before and this is how it looks now because of your contribution and it makes a big difference.”
Yes, man, we want to get as many people as we can in to be able to help because it’ll help these kids and then it creates a model for how we can help other youth around the world in different countries, have an opportunity to make their country better or make the world a better place. Man, we need to innovative minds and we don’t know where the innovative mind is going to come from. We don’t care who cures cancer. We just need the cure.
We don’t care who does it, just give it to us. You know what I mean?
Yes, easy. It’s easier said, I guess, than done in most cases.
Well, man, that’s a perfect opportunity. Where can people find you? If they’re interested and they hear it on this podcast, where do they reach out to you?
To find us, the website is the best way to learn more about what we’re doing, to learn more about the orphanage, even be able to contribute. The website is YCHIAMAG.com. That stands for You Can Have It All Magazine, so they can either type in, You Can Have It All Magazine in a Google search or they can go directly to YCHIAMAG.com.
To contact with me directly, I’m on Instagram a lot. My Instagram handle is @sfdreamsbig and that’s the best way to contact me there. You can DM me there. Of course, people can call us directly if they want to be able to get in contact or have any questions or want to be able to help with anything.
Before we wrap things up here, is there anything else that you want to address before I ask the last question?
Well, no. Man, the biggest thing is the youth magazine is something that is a big thing right now. We want people to get on board with the youth magazine, with You Can Have It All because it’s designed to inspire kids all over the world, it’s digital, and you can get physical copies, but it’s all about motivation. I would definitely say, anybody that’s interested in motivating you or they have you, check out the magazine and purchase a copy.
Then maybe even get your kid in there, right?
Or maybe even get your kid in there, that’s right. There’s lots of opportunities.
Shaun, thank you so much. I always ask this to every guest I have on at the end, you’ve lived a crazy life to this point. Crazy is one way to put it, but you’ve lived a good life to this point. What is the best advice that you’ve learned through the entirety of your life, if you had to narrow it down to one thing, what would it be?
As a believer, I would say, trust God. That would be the thing and I’ll explain it. We don’t have the answers to everything. We don’t have the answers to everything going in our lives. Sometimes we don’t know what’s going on, why we’re doing things, why our life makes these crazy turns, why are we in this business, how did I get into this business, what is going, why am I here? It’s just having some trust and some faith in your path in life where you are.
You are where you’re supposed to be for a reason, and to enjoy that journey of where you are and to soak it all in because life is finite. We don’t know when we’re going to be out of here, but we can enjoy every day that we’re here. When I talk about like just trusting God or somebody who doesn’t believe in God, trust in whatever it is, whatever you believe in, trusting in that higher power because you’re where you’re supposed to be for a reason.
You’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing for a reason and what you want to do in life is possible, it’s just enjoying that journey while you’re on it.
Yes. Man, I could not agree more with that. We had the last interview that’s actually just released before there’s episode to air. It’s kind of in regards to that ecology mix of how everything connects and it’s just so true. If you’re ever in doubt, just sitting with yourself and allowing that opportunity to come to you and being open to it is, in my experience at least, is huge, so I absolutely love that answer.