This week I’m branching out from my usual theme to explain why I think Rye Barcott’s new book “It Happened on the Way to War” should be required reading for UNC students.
At its heart, Rye’s book is a humbling account by a recent alumnus who decided that he wanted to be a “doer.”
If you’ve been to the FedEx Global Education Center or attended the lectures on campus over the past fortnight, you probably know the story: 2001 graduate Rye Barcott co-founded Carolina for Kibera, an NGO working “to develop local leaders, catalyze positive change and alleviate poverty in the Kibera slum of Nairobi.”
Many Tar Heels aspire to public service in the form of community development, international engagement or even serving their country in uniform. Rye did all three, overseeing CFK’s rise while training and deploying as a Marine officer across the globe.
And what a rise it was. The NGO arose out of a 2000 Burch Fellowship research trip, where Rye latched onto the concept of participatory development and met co-founders Salim Mohamed and Tabitha Atieno Festo. The team met unstinting fundraising challenges and overcame logistical and security hurdles to thrive in the rough world of east Africa’s largest slum.