Kim McCluskey’s lifetime spiritual commitment is to help others, especially children. His commitment to helping children began in the sixties when he was an 18-year-old Marine stationed in Vietnam. Even though he later received the Purple Heart for his service, he always felt the war was wrong, that the American people had been lied to, and that the people of Vietnam were good, gentle people.
After he came home from the war, he became a hippie with a long blond pony tail and a Volkswagen bus. He began to meditate as he tried to learn about loving kindness, compassion and God. In his thirties, he raised three children and became a chiropractor. In his fifties, responding to his passion for nature, adventure and paddling, he sold his chiropractic practice and began to guide paddling trips to remote places all over the world. His business, Adventure Sherpas, specializes in Kayaking trips to some of the most remote destinations on earth. In his spiritual practice, he came to believe that we are all one and that we must work constantly to love one another.
When he took groups paddling on the bays of Vietnam, he was reunited with the Vietnamese people, who had seemed so gentle to him as a young Marine. On one of these trips, he discovered three young girls living alone on a plastic raft, abandoned by their father. As a father, he could not tolerate the girls’ predicament. His quest to help the three was the beginning of the Sun in My Heart charity. First he was able to build a house for the girls, all of whom are now doing very well. Then, with the money left over, he figured out how to build schools for small children left out of the mainstream schools of Vietnam.
The children in the schools built by Sun in My Heart are poor, minority children who do not speak the standard Vietnamese language. These schools are like “Headstart” in the U.S., in which minority children get pre-reading and pre-math skills that level the playing field and allow these minority children to achieve academic and personal success. They also learn about music, science and nature.
Kim now lives with his sweetheart Jeanie in a log home in the remote woods of far northern Minnesota, about 10 miles from the Canadian border. They like paddling the local lakes and the BWCA, taking long hikes and he enjoys drinking cup after cup of good Vietnamese green tea. He travels to Vietnam often and sees the first three girls he helped still, who now have daughters of their own, he enjoys bringing this new generation presents every time he sees them.