Claire Diaz-Ortiz is all about sending a message. As Twitter’s social innovator and outreach to religious leaders, she is known as “The Woman Who Got the Pope on Twitter.” Claire is the author of several books including Twitter for Good: Change the World One Tweet at a Time.
Earlier this month when Claire launched her new book Hope Runs, she also made national news when she tweeted her entire 13-hour labor and delivery experience in real time to her 330,000 Twitter followers.
From Claire’s confusion over her water breaking early, to car problems and searching for a taxi, to her husband’s frustration that he forgot his ukelele–the world watched in awe of what would normally be a private moment, hanging on her every tweet. Her baby daughter Lucia Paz became an instant celebrity who was born to tweet and promptly given the handle @Lucia.
The story appeared in Newsweek, Huffington Post, ABC News and Daily Mail, among many others. And that is something to tweet about.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised as Claire, the Stanford and Oxford graduate, was named “One of the Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company. Bold, beautiful and modestly brilliant, it appears the Ivey league trendsetter who ran a marathon in Madrid, sky-dived in South Africa, and climbed to the base camp at Mt. Everest was born to innovate.
But to Claire, some things are not about business. She is now using her gift of communication in a new way through her non-profit charity, Hope Runs, an organization operating in AIDS orphanages in Kenya. Her new book by the same name, Hope Runs, is a fascinating joint memoir co-written with her Kenyan foster child Sammy. This young boy with the big smile, stole a place in her heart when she first visited the orphanage and felt a calling to stay. It is the story of one meeting that changed the course of both of their lives.
Now you can read about their journey in the second excerpt of Claire’s book Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption.
By the time I finally got to Africa, I had the notion that I already knew her.
Years of thumbing through thick memoirs and ratty guide- books extolling her magic had given me the sense that I understood the secrets held in her heavy air and fierce green trees. But when I did arrive and saw how the red dirt seeps into you in ways that will never leave, I realized, of course, that I never knew anything at all.
But this story is getting ahead of me. First there was Mexico.
I went to Mexico because a bad book told me to.
While spending six months studying in Italy during college, I developed a perhaps unnatural love for a particular bookstore and frequented the place on a near daily basis. One day a colorful book about Mexico caught my eye, and I bought it without even reading the back cover.
Months later I began to read. The book chronicled the story of a middle-aged Californian couple’s experiences living south of the border. Lots of typically quirky things happened that I found mildly inane. They had trouble with contractors. They started talking to each other in Spanish. They learned to love the local dogs. Although I found little common ground with the writer, I made the decision to go.
It would take two years to tie up loose ends—friends, family, and school—in California, and I looked forward to the change.
I had been born and raised in Northern California’s Berkeley and had spent my high school years at the enormous Berkeley High School, where the drug deals that took place in first period, and the bathroom monitors who ensured we didn’t use our bathroom breaks to add to the school’s virulent problem with arson, always ran in sharp contrast to my summers spent at a placid Christian camp.
College at Stanford University was another shock to my system, and I remember stopping in wonder when I heard the rumor shortly after arriving that each of the hundreds of palm trees dot- ting Stanford’s Palm Drive had cost the university fifty thousand dollars to fly in from a far-off place.
I loved the incredible academic environment and opportunities at Stanford fiercely, and when I finished my undergraduate studies in just under three years, I decided to stay on for four to complete a master’s degree and graduate with my dear friends and boyfriend. In the process, though, I pushed myself too hard by doubling up on classes and holding two part-time jobs, and for more than a year I was ill. An autoimmune disorder appeared to be the culprit, leading me to sleep thirteen hours a day and regularly retreat from the world with unbearable migraines.
I longed for a place and time where my life could come to a standstill—at least for a while. I want to be bored, I said.
Soon I am on a long plane ride to South Africa with Lara, a dear friend. It was a sudden, perhaps absurd, decision, one that lacked any planning at all save a phone call to guarantee we actually booked ourselves on the same flight. Since leaving Stanford the year before, we had thrown around the idea of traveling to Africa together several times but never formalized it so much as to actually open a guidebook or look at a calendar. She has just ended a relationship of her own, though, and convinces me the timing is perfect. We buy tickets and leave a few days later. “It’s just what you need,” she says.
And she is right.
If you would like to order a copy of Claire’s new book Hope Runs please visit Amazon
Click here to watch the Book Trailer for Hope Runs
Claire Díaz-Ortiz is an author, speaker, and technology innovator who has been named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company. Claire was an early employee at Twitter, where she was hired to lead social innovation, and where she still works today. Claire holds an MBA from Oxford University, where she was a Skoll Foundation Scholar for Social Entrepreneurship, and has a BA and an MA in Anthropology from Stanford University.
She is the co-founder of Hope Runs, a non-profit organization operating in AIDS orphanages in Kenya. Claire also owns Saving Money Media, a six-year old network of websites that help families live better on less.
Republished with permission from Hope Runs by Claire Diaz-Ortiz and Samuel Ikua Gachagua © 2014 Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group.