Monday, July 18, 2011

Dear family and friends,

I hope this finds you well. I am looking forward to seeing you soon and I hope to catch up with all of you personally. I am planning on being in making my way through Orange County and Los Angeles on my way to San Francisco. Please contact me if you have some time in your busy lives wherein I can stop by. I am still hoping to bicycle tour a bit before going back to work in San Francisco, but I decided I need to get my life in order first.

Tomorrow will be my last day in Tete. From there I will travel to Beira, Johannesburg, New York, and Pennsylvania where I shall spend a week before returning to California. The work here isn’t complete, but my part will be. I am honored to have been given the opportunity to play a small part in it. I hope that at least some part of my contribution will be useful to some. It seems unlikely that we will meet our plan of ten dams this year, but I believe that our objective of increasing water and food security in the province will still be met.

I am on the verge of uprooting my life again. Moments of change always make me introspective. Knowing that life will never and could never be the same, I often look back for a few seconds, hoping to fix the images in a chemical bath of the mind. These moments are always bittersweet, as are all the important moments of our lives.

What I see when I look back are the faces and names of people whom I used to only refer to as the world’s poor. I can also see my colleagues who have challenged me to learn more about my work and my own personal beliefs. I can see my friends who, by virtue of living here, have overcome impossible challenges and seem to have each lived a thousand lives. I now know a man who pulled the hair off the tail of a surprised bull elephant and friends who at gunpoint have been given 24 hours to leave their homes forever. The other things I’ve learned this year are small in comparison.

As my final thought, I want to share something that Walt Whitman once wrote. I came across the poem earlier in the year and it has stuck with me ever since. It isn’t powerful to me because it describes what I do; it describes only what I hope to do. I can think of no better way to sign off from these letters for the last time.

This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body

Thank you again.

Your brother,
Stephen Esaki


  1. Thanks for sharing this Stephen. I loved that poem. It gives me goosebumps and shivers of inspiration. It will be good to see you when you get back. Hope your travels back will be safe and you will have time for the reflection that you need.

  2. Thank you, Stephen. I have really appreciated reading your blog, and I look forward to seeing you again soon!