“In a world where we can be and do anything, be kind and do good.”
- Liliana Libecki
At the age of 17, Lilliana Libecki has been to 28 countries, all 7 continents, and seven major expeditions, including two expeditions to Antarctica, an ascent of Kilimanjaro in Africa, and a 150-mile trek through the Himalaya of Nepal all on adventures with her dad Mike, a National Geographic Explorer. But with each expedition, Lily takes the time to give back in helping the people and places she visited with humanitarian and conservation work. This has included installing solar power and laptops in Peru, Nepal, Tanzania, the Philippines, and India. She is now the founder of her own nonprofit organization- The Joyineering Fund and has now partnered with CHOICE, Dell, and Goal Zero Solar to help communities in Bolivia receive light and education.
Join us as we talk with Mike Libecki about the inspiration behind the Joyineering Fund, their partnership with CHOICE, and their current project in Bolivia involving solar energy and computer literacy.
Mike, thank you so much for being with us today. Would you mind telling us a little bit about your background and the organization you are the co-founder of and where your daughter is the founder?
Thanks for taking the time and energy to have me; it’s great to be here. Being able to share the magic and power and beauty of our Mother Earth and everyone living on it is really important to not only myself, but also to my family and our team. I do get a couple of those fancy titles like National Geographic Explorer; I’m also a Dell Ambassador, a Goal Zero Solar Ambassador, and I make sure I say Co-Founder of the Joyineering Fund. My daughter when she was 12 years old, her name is Lilianna Libecki, she founded the Joyineering Fund out of an organic desire to make the world a better place.
That is incredible! And where did the inspiration come for that, and what are some of the past projects that you have done with the Joyineering Fund and what your daughter has been working on?
So my entire adult life has been adventuring, exploring the world, and my daughter has grown up with an interesting lifestyle with being able to travel all over the world her entire life. Long story short, we did an expedition in Africa where we went and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro when she was 12.
And that was her idea where she said, “Dad, I want to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.” So we put together this trip and we also put together a give-back trip, and we donated computers, solar energy, and other things to a local orphanage there. And that was a really exciting thing because when we are on these adventures, we are always thinking about what we can do to give back and what we can do when we are in these places to try to make the world a better place.
And my daughter at that age and having that experience, she was really moved emotionally. And she said to me, “Dad, these adventures are great and all, but what are we doing? Can’t we make the world a better place? Can’t we focus on giving back?” And I said, “I love it.” I mean, this is a huge inspiration. I said, “Well, you can start an organization and we can try to bring together different and bigger global teamwork.”
And that is what she did.
She started a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and it’s called the Joyineering Fund. Think of mountaineering or engineering, but joyineering is the act of bringing joy however we can do that. And so we focus on the most remote communities around the world that don’t have opportunities that other people have, if that makes sense. She’s 17 now; we’ve been doing these projects all over the world and they’ve been very successful. It’s really become the majority of our life to give back to the planet and see what we can do to do our part to make the world a better place.
I love that at such a young age she was thinking about not only traveling, but traveling with a purpose and making sure she is giving back because that is an incredibly fulfilling mission to have, especially as a young person. Unfortunately, she couldn’t be here with us today, but Mike where is she now?
She is on a little mountain adventure with her friends for a few days and she’ll be back soon. But I know she would have loved to be here to talk about the projects that we do and the passion that she has, because she gets emotional and she has a lot to say about not only what are we doing to give back but what are all of you doing to give back and she will say that. She’ll ask, “What did you do last week, last month, last year, to make the world a better place? What do you have planned next weekend or next month or next year? What are we all doing as a collective team, global team to make the world a better place?” So I am speaking for her at the moment and she would say, “Look, in a world where we can be and do anything; be kind and do good.”
I love that our younger generations are stepping up to make the world a better place. I think it is really coming down to the younger generations to take that energy and that power and that focus and discipline to make the world the best it can be in so many different ways, especially with so much different mayhem going on right now. She is a huge inspiration to me; I’m a very proud dad, and she’s an inspiration to all. And it just comes down to teamwork as you know.
So talking a little about the project you both are currently working on with CHOICE and in Bolivia, how did you first hear about CHOICE and what pushed you to become involved? Talk to us a little bit more about that introduction.
Sure. Well, we do a lot of speaking; we make films; we do a lot of presentations all over the states and all of the world to share our message. It's one thing to do these projects; it’s another to spread these stories and try to get people emotional. You know when you create emotion, you start to care more about whatever it is if you are emotional about it. So we want to share the stories. It is one thing to do the projects; they are incredibly wonderful and we are honored and privileged to be able to do these projects but to share them, to send the message out and to spread that inspiration or that energy and to get people fired up to do anything to give back is very important to us.
So, we were doing a presentation and someone that collaborates with CHOICE saw the presentation and contacted me and made an introduction with a couple of people at CHOICE. We had a meeting and we found that we have these parallel commonalities, we have this synergy and it comes back to teamwork. And that energy was so positive, we realized that the more teamwork we have, the more that we can do.
And we are starting on our first project now. We are building a couple of schools in Bolivia bringing solar energy, a computer education center, and internet. Of course, this has kind of been on hold with the mayhem the last few months, but everything is moving forward. The construction is continuing; we are formulating all the plans and shipping all the equipment, and as soon as we can travel safely again, we can continue on that project. We are really, really excited about it, and I want to give a big shout-out to CHOICE and everyone there for the collaborative teamwork because this is how it happens with everyone involved.
I agree. I love how we were able to find that commonality and it's thanks to people like you that we are able to carry out projects like this. It really is an amazing process where we find these common values and common mission and we are able to have this impact on the international communities.
So we are really excited. You said it is a couple of schools, working with computer literacy… What kind of goals do you have with the project and what kinds of goals do the communities have with it? Talk to us a little bit about that.
We have found that over the years when we are going to all of these different communities and looking for ways we can help, we go to the community and it is very organic. We ask, “What are the needs? Are there any needs you have that we can help with?” And it’s been really consistent with solar energy, computer literacy, and computer education. This gives people the opportunity to go to college. If you are computer literate, it gives you a better chance to get into college or obtain higher education.
We found that almost every time we are visiting dozens of places, solar energy is a need. They want to be computer educated, and there are some other things that we do, but those are the main things we have focused on. And we are able to bring not only the solar energy and computer technology and the internet, but we also bring teams to train because sustainability is really important. This has to work; it has to make a difference. With training, before we leave on these projects, we can step away and see that they know how to run the computers. They know how to fix the solar if there is a problem. They have back-up plans and they have extra equipment in place. Sustainability is really one of the top words of these projects that make it really happen; it really works.
We’ll take a little over 40 computers to Bolivia. We will completely solarize the entire place with new lights. It will run the computers and everything will be run by solar which is exciting because this is a really remote place.
We have a lot of goals; I mean the goal is joy. Just like our name- Joyineering. You know, that is our hope. But bringing that education is key. If we can bring education, we are listening to those needs when they say, “We want to be computer literate, we want to know how to run these computers and work on them.” It’s a sign of the times education as well.
I could talk so much more about it, but for Bolivia, that is the main focus right now.
And what phase is the project in right now; what kinds of things are you doing now?
Well, I am an utter optimist. So we are continuing to move forward. Part of my job is to make sure that I am spreading the sight and the optimism. And we are just postponing this; nothing is canceled and everything is moving forward with the school construction.
We are partnering with Dell Computers and we are also partnering with Goal Zero Solar, and those are our main teams for this project, and of course, CHOICE and the Joy Fund. But that is really what it comes down to.
And we are hopeful! There is a chance that we could finish the project at the end of this year, but we have already come to terms that we are postponing to 2021. If something else happens earlier, then we can move on that. But so far, just full speed ahead and having patience. Patience is really important right now.
I 100% agree. Well, I think that gives people a sense of what’s going on. I love the words you used- sustainability, teamwork, and education. We are working towards the future of what it can look like with solar power, computer literacy, and joy, ultimately, which is the underlying motivation for all of this.
And I know we here at CHOICE really appreciate your partnership and we are really excited about this project and want to spread awareness about it. Is there anything else you would like people to know about it?
We have done some really great projects in the past and I’ll send you some photos and some other things that you can share along with this.
We just did an incredible project in the Philippines and one in India. I’ll send you a bunch of information and these are incredible projects, and seeing the visuals of those might bring a little more joy and awareness of what we are doing.
Perfect. We will share out some of the past projects that the Joy Fund has done and we’ll include a little about how you can possibly get involved as well. We are excited about this project! And thank you again for being here Mike and for talking us through it.
Thanks again for the time and energy in spreading this and a big shout out to CHOICE for the teamwork and anytime I talk about any this, you’ll hear me as a sort of redundancy department because it really just comes down to teamwork. Without that teamwork, we couldn’t do it. We have so much gratitude for your entire team and I’m excited to see this project finished and to fruition and successful.
Thank you! Both to you and your daughter who are the main drivers behind this. We love partnering with people like you and having that kind of impact!