“Warren Te Brugge is the ultimate professional. His knowledge of multiple industries and disciplines is surpassed only by his patient, understanding,
and accepting attitude. A great colleague, mentor, and friend.” Eric Keisel, Business Partner
Warren and I met last April at a training in California. I was fresh from my second journey to
South Africa, at the invitation of Rev. Spiwo Xapile, a black South African community leader. Spiwo and I co-created and facilitated a unique and inspiring approach to leadership and community building for
grassroots leaders from across South Africa’s townships and rural areas.
Warren and I immediately connected on a very deep level—a soul level if you will. We shared stories:
of his growing up in South Africa and his vision of returning to work with mothers and children to help
build communities that could prosper; and of my transformative experiences living and working alongside
grassroots leaders and of my hope and dream to deepen the work Spiwo
and I had begun. Before too long we were calling each other “bro,” and “sis.”
As our plane descended into Cape Town, I turned to look at Warren. His eyes were closed but I could tell
he was tearing up. His hand was clutching his clothes over his heart, pressing hard against his chest.
Then, when we went through passport control, the officer said to Warren, “Welcome home.” Tears flooded over Warren’s face. Through this welter of emotion, Warren said,
“I AM home. And it feel damn good to be home!”
Throughout the summer we stayed in touch with our individual plans and their developments.
Warren gave me great feedback on proposals that I was writing. Before too long it was late fall,
and Warren was talking of returning to South Africa in January or February – his first return to
his roots after nearly 15 years. He asked me to join him and help him make connections into the
communities he wanted to work with. I was stunned at such a generous invitation and considered it (and still do) a profound honor. So on January 31 we boarded a plane to Cape Town for an almost four-week unforgettable journey.