A letter from the author
About twenty years ago, an opportunity came my way to help found the global charity, Smile Train. This organization has gone on to provide over a million surgeries to kids all over the world suffering with cleft lip and palate. Today, I'm the founder of WonderWork, a new charity devoted to providing life-changing surgeries to children who no one else will help.
For the past 20 years, I have been telling the same story in all kinds of different ways.
Through hundreds of newspaper and magazine ads. Tens of millions of direct mail letters. An Academy Award-winning movie and viral videos. Speeches and talks at schools and colleges. And now, through this book.
The story is a simple one. It is about the ability of ordinary people to change the world. It's about how helping others can be the most selfish thing you'll ever do. And how fulfilling it can be to lead an intentional life--a life of meaning and purpose.
I learned these lessons from the most amazing and unlikely teachers you could ever imagine. From peasants who live in caves and huts made out of mud. Selfless surgeons who work in war zones, deserts and jungles. And desperate mothers who walk 50 miles with their babies on their backs in the hope of finding medical treatment for their child. In refugee camps across Africa, slums in India and orphanages in Nepal, I learned many things they never taught me at Harvard. Along the way I've witnessed unspeakable pain, suffering and heartbreak but also breathtaking courage, perseverance and altruism.
In this book, I've tried to share everything I've learned from the people I've met along the way. My hope is that these stories will inspire others as much as they have inspired me. To be a better person. To take a chance when opportunity calls. To think about what kind of life you really want to lead. And to ask yourself one of the toughest questions anyone can ask: am I leading a good life?
It is never too early to ask that question--and never too late to change the answer.
I wish you luck