Shifting to sustainability
So Dr. Licht shifted toward providing public health education and promoting natural medicine and holistic therapies. "What can the community grow in their backyards, and what medicinal plants can they use?" he said. "In addition, what can I teach them from a public health standpoint to prevent disease: how to prevent heartburn; how to prevent headaches; how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases; the benefits of breastfeeding."
Dr. Licht saved lives with the first nonprofit, yet rapid growth led to unwieldy organizational focus, he said.
"When you build something - an idea from your kitchen table - and it is so successful, that success can blossom into something you never thought possible," he said. "As a product of that success, the board of directors grew and there were lots of different ideas, which are important for an organization to continue to move forward.
"However, the executive director, myself and a few core board members - especially the original board members - felt that after 15 years of doing that kind of work, it wasn't having the impact we originally envisioned."
This core group then established Crossing Thresholds to focus on working with community leaders to identify impact areas. Its progress has provided meaningful opportunities for children in Kibera.
To remain active, Dr. Licht travels to Kenya with fellow board members and donors. Recently, they observed the Nyeri High School operations, plus the region's mountain gorilla conservation efforts.
"We spent a couple days with the gorillas," he said. "These mountain gorillas were once endangered and are now being protected. It showed that all of the world's creatures are equally necessary and connected and deserve the opportunity to contribute to the planet."
Few have the mettle or the compassion to face the struggles of the desperately poor. To Dr. Licht, it's about as insurmountable as Mount Kilimanjaro.
"As long as I can walk, I'm going to keep doing what I am doing," he said.