We were young, energetic and ready to change the world. Combining our love for photography, video, travel and serving causes that matter we set out to find worthy projects in East Africa needing support. We aimed to tell their stories through well-designed visual communications. As aspiring creative professionals we wanted to use our skills for projects that would make a difference in the world.
This upcoming series of posts transitions from my time in South Sudan into discussing our ongoing projects elsewhere in East Africa. Sharing the background story here will reveal the context behind these projects. “Yadumu” is the Swahili word for “long life” identifying with our desire to support life-saving causes in East Africa.Our initial idea was to create a documentary on how organizations were addressing the AIDS crisis in East Africa. If people in the West could see a message of hope, rather than dire statistics, it would more likely inspire them to contribute to solutions. Traveling through Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and South Sudan, we found project after project addressing the needs of society in their own ways. Every one of them impacted the AIDS situation not by specializing in one particular issue but by caring for the vulnerable.
During this trip three projects captured my ongoing attention. The first was a much needed water project for the village of Rakwaro in Western Kenya. A Kenyan by the name of Henry approached me one day asking if I was a journalist. He wanted to show me his village and to allow me to see first hand how a lack of water impacted the community. I have never forgotten that visit. With the groundwork and strategic planning finally in place, we are now launching a fund-raising initiative to raise money to start this project.
The second was an orphanage in the Nairobi-area founded by a Kenyan pastor and his wife to care for vulnerable children. I have supported El-Shaddai Hope Centre and maintained a relationship with them for the past few years. We are working together on figuring out ways to help make their children’s home more financially sustainable.
The third project was an organization called Aid Child, dedicated to caring for children with HIV/AIDS who live without the support of extended family. The afternoon that we spent with Nathaniel Dunigan, Aid Child’s founder, was the most informative on our entire first trip. Although we are not currently involved in a specific project to support Aid Child they continue to be our best example of sustainable human development. Nathaniel is currently conducting Ph.D. research at the University of San Diego.This close proximity has allowed us to learn much from his experience.
Yadumu is the Swahili word for “long life” identifying with our desire to support life-saving causes in East Africa.
Since that first trip to East Africa we have been back twice. It has taken a lot of prayer, research, advice and consideration to figure out how we wanted to approach these projects. A conference called Ending Poverty by Developing People significantly influenced our approach this past Summer. Upon our return to East Africa in the Fall of 2012 we began exploring alongside the people we are working with in Kenya how their efforts and ideas could lead the way forward toward their own development. We believe that we have landed on the approach that we should take for our first major project, a well for Rakwaro.
We never did make that documentary, deciding instead that we needed to focus on working directly with causes to help tell their stories. At this point the Yadumu Project is not a 501©3 but a collaborative effort to empower the people of East to live longer and healthier lives. We are a work in progress and learning how to empower sustainable human development as we go. Your prayer, support and ideas are most welcome. Thank you for listening to our story.Click here to learn more about the Yadumu Project.