With all the hatred and craziness in the world stories about the simplicity of authentic humanity stand out like glaring headlights. Director Scott Haze captures one such story in a powerfully moving documentary about the life of Charles Mully, a man who grew up in Kenya’s slums to become a multi-millionaire, only to give it all up to serve the thousands of Kenya’s street children.
This rags-to-riches story shows the hardships Mully faced after being abandoned by his desperately poor family at age six, forcing him to beg for and sometimes steal food to survive. As a child, Mully’s father became unemployed and fell into alcohol addiction, beating on his wife. When Charles becomes full of hatred from a life seemingly devoid of meaning, he contemplates suicide but a young man intervenes and invites him to a prayer meeting. At age seventeen, Mully walks all the way to Nairobi looking for work, which blessedly comes to him from a wealthy Indian woman who hires him to do domestic chores. For the first time in his life, he eats real food and showers in a real bathroom. A year later he is promoted to farm assistant where he meets Esther, his future wife and mother of their seven children.
By 1970, Mully works at the Strabag Road Construction Company where he becomes a manager. Using his earnings, he buys a vehicle to begins his own public transportation service between villages and cities. Mullyway Agencies, as he calls it, grows to hundreds of vehicles and Mully rakes in the money. He later becomes the oil and gas tycoon of Western Kenya increasing his holdings substantially.
One day, going into a town for business, some young men approach him and offer to watch his car for money. He refuses, and returns from his appointment to find his car gone, stolen, and forced to take public transportation home. This experience transforms him. The next day he sits and weeps in his car for four hours wrestling with God who he hears say to him, “Go and sell all that you have and give to the poor” (Lk. 11:33). He decides then and there to sell his businesses and take into his own home the children from the slums. When he tells his family of his decision, they respond with horror. They have a comfortable life and don’t want to be inconvenienced. Esther, heartbroken by his decision, nonetheless supports her husband and graciously gives of her heart, her love, and her life for the poor children her husband brings to their home. She sees that what they each need most is love, which she gives with her entire being.
Mully fully trusts in the words of a preacher who long ago encouraged his congregation to work hard and believe nothing is impossible for God. After taking in hundreds of children the Mully’s needed bigger living quarters, and so they move the entire clan and build their home from scratch in a dry and deserted part of the land. When the children become sick from drinking dirty river water, Mully tells his sons to start digging in a certain spot, believing God led him to the water. In Moses-like fashion, he points to a dry, rocky area and tells them to dig. When the boys are tempted to give up, Charles insists they keep striking the rock. When they do, water bursts forth. A miraculous event! They plant trees and vegetables transforming the wasteland into a veritable microclimate that brings more rain to the region. Through his tremendous faith, an arid land becomes fertile and life blossoms for the children he serves. He names his organization the Mully Children’s Family, giving these children, who call him and Esther, dad and mom, a true home and loving family.
“Mully” moves the audience with the heart-rending story of the suffering children whose lives are transformed because one man imagines he can change Kenya “one child at a time.” Charles Mully truly believes that anyone who remains focused and works hard can change the world. He and Esther recently celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary and in the past 25 years have housed and rehabilitated over 23,000 slum children, many who have gone on to universities to change the world in the areas in which they now live.
When we are tempted to think we are too small and insignificant to make a difference in the world, we only need to watch this amazing documentary to be convinced that one person can make a significant difference even in the life of just one other person. Each of us can give the best of who we are to others, and sometimes, when we feel we have nothing to give, we can still give love which, according to Mully, is more than enough. This is what it means to be authentically human. For, truly, all the world needs is love.