Supporter Spotlight // It’s all in the family

Jeff with his daughters Rachel and Megan at our Fourth Estate Leadership Summit

Jeff with his daughters Rachel and Megan at our 2013 Fourth Estate Leadership Summit

Activist, Father, Grandpa, Gardener…Jeff Man plays multiple roles and defies many stereotypes because of a very powerful force behind him – his family. Bear with me on this one, the list is lengthy:

  1. Leah, Wife
  2. Cliff, Son
  3. Michaela, Daughter-in-law
  4. Megan, Daughter
  5. Emmanuel, Son-in-law
  6. Sarah, Daughter
  7. Rachel, Daughter
  8. Hannah, Granddaughter

Every single one is at the top of the ranks in our books here at Invisible Children, and here’s why: the family has come together to participate in so many events and actions we’ve encouraged over the years. Want the specifics? OK, here it goes- as a family, they have started a Schools for Schools club, held many bake sales, hosted many Roadies, attended both Fourth Estate Leadership Summits, and participated in The Rescue, LOBBY:DC, MOVE:DC, Cover the Night, and 25: Break the Silence.

Jeff introduced his entire family to Invisible Children through our first documentary, the Rough Cut, and from there it was history.

“As a parent, it was thrilling for me to see my girls get involved in a movement that is larger than themselves, and to see them catch a vision. Rachel and Sarah are both teachers now in high-risk areas, not only trying to teach kids, but also the kids in America that are marginalized and invisible. Proud parents!”

Of all the active efforts, LOBBY:DC and MOVE:DC were quite memorable for Jeff. The event enabled him to reunite with many of his ‘adopted family’ including Roadies, Ugandans, and the rest of our IC units. Something he recognized while lobbying was how our government does welcome the voice of the constituency with very open ears. Jeff adds, “Being older, I let the young people do most of the talking, but I interjected that this issue matters to all age groups.”

Jeff and his daughters Rachel and Megan pose with our staff at MOVE:DC

Jeff and his daughters Rachel and Megan pose with our staff at MOVE:DC

After LOBBY:DC came the tipping point. MOVE:DC provided Jeff the opportunity to meet Jacob Acaye in person- the figure that originally inspired him to action during the Rough Cut. Though the entire family was influenced by the enthusiasm at the event, his daughter Megan was perhaps most stirred. Jeff explains, “I think she resolved after that event to move forward in her life.”

Since the event, Megan has gotten married and is setting up a home while continuing to work full time and take online classes to finish her degree. He continues, “She caught a glimpse of a vision that is larger than herself and she latched onto it. Her husband is Ghanian and works for a GPO that is focused on social justice issues in Africa. Chances are good that she will end up on long-term assignment somewhere in Africa in the next few years.”

It doesn’t stop there – Jeff’s entire family has found a role to play, including his wife Leah who seemed to excel in the families fundraising efforts. Jeff says, “Leah estimates that she made several thousand brownies back in those days – and they were the most popular and demanded baked good at the sales.”

Leah and Jeff

Leah and Jeff

But that’s not the only thing Leah contributed. “She excels in hospitality,” Jeff confirms as he describes the nutritious home cooked meals she prepared while housing our Roadies.

Both Jeff and Leah are humbled by the experience of housing our Roadies, and remember accommodating their first Ugandan guest in particular – Geoffrey Ochen. Jeff reflects, “Geoffrey surprised me by giving me an Acholi name: ‘Onen’. He said it is also his father’s Acholi name so I was doubly honored to receive an Acholi name and to be honored by father status.”

Jeff with our East Coast roadies in 2011

Jeff’s family with our East Coast Roadies in 2011

Jeff may not be our “average” supporter, but his insight and stance on extreme injustice is one so agreeable and compelling that he seems to fit right in.

Jeff concludes, “I have lived my adult life being a global witness to countless atrocities worldwide that barely gets the attention of the people of the United States – yet alone any action. I am profoundly moved by the way young people, through the work of Invisible Children, are making a difference and not listening to the ‘older’ and ‘wiser’ elders who claim that there are too many problems and we can’t make a difference.”

Jeff, we can’t thank you enough for all you do (but we’ll keep trying), especially for supporting our Roadies. As for the rest of you who have not yet heard, our Roadies launched THIS WEEK for our 15th tour to date, including our returner Geoffrey Ochen! Click HERE to see how you can best support them.

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