In 2000 Rye Barcott spent part of his summer living in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. He was a college student heading into the American Marines, and he sought to better understand ethnic violence - something he would likely face later in uniform. He learned Swahili, asked questions, and listened to young people talk about how they survived in poverty he had never imagined. Anxious to help but unsure what to do, he stumbled into friendship with a widowed nurse, Tabitha Atieno Festo, and a community organiser, Salim Mohamed.
Together, this unlikely trio built a non-governmental organization that would develop a new generation of leaders from within one of Africa's largest slums. Their organization, Carolina for Kibera (CFK), is now a global pioneer of the movement called Participatory Development, and washonored by Time magazine as a 'Hero of Global Health.' CFK's greatest lesson may be that with the right kind of support, people in desperate places will take charge of their lives and create breathtaking changed.
Engaged in two seemingly contradictory forms of public service at the same time, Barcott continued his leadership in CFK while serving as a human intelligence officer in Iraq, Bosnia, and the Horn of Africa. Struggling with the intense stress of leading Marines in dangerous places, he took the tools he learned building a community in one of the most fractured parts of Kenya and became a more effective counterinsurgent and peacekeeper. It Happened on the Way to War is a true story of sacrifice and courage and the powerful melding of military and humanitarian service.