shop

A New Online Shop For Our Water Project in Kenya

Causes

During our last trip to Kenya at the end of 2012, we set out to find products in Nairobi’s markets that would interest people back home. Most of the souvenirs that you find would be interesting primarily to tourists who’ve visited the region. Our hope was to find products that people would buy because they wanted them, rather than just because they wanted to help our cause.

With the help of some local advice and Rebekah’s excellent taste, we found tea, bracelets, handmade bags and fabric to make additional products. We nearly sold out of everything at our first event, the Flood Church Christmas Shoppe in 2012. This year a friend traveled back to Kenya and brought us two boxes of goods.

Our products received another great response at this year’s Christmas Collective. We made sure to have more than we needed this year so that we could post the rest of our products online. Today we are excited to launch our new Yadumu Project Online Shop. 100% of the profits from our products will go toward the water project in Rakwaro, Kenya. We also have a new donate page so if you want to contribute but aren’t interested in purchasing any products, you can donate here.

Our products are a combination of items that we found in Kenya and collaborations with businesses that we admire like A Well Traveled Brand, Fait la Force, Leaf & Kettle and Coffee & Tea Collective. We hope you find something that you love. Thank you for supporting our efforts to bring clean water to Rakwaro!

Visit Our Online Shop

Featured Vendor Facebook Cover

The Christmas Collective 2013

Causes

We are grateful to be participating in the the Christmas Collective this Sunday, December 8th, at the Convention Center in downtown San Diego. This event put on by Flood Church combines a Christmas concert with a marketplace for people to buy gifts that make an impact around the world. Each of the vendors represent causes, sharing their work and selling products to support their efforts.

Our current cause at the Yadumu Project is a water project for the community of Rakwaro in Western Kenya. 100% of our profits are going directly toward drilling a well in an area that has long needed access to clean water. We are aiming to raise money for the first phase of this project, drilling and installing a water pump, by receiving donations and selling Kenyan-themed products.

A Life Changing Question

Causes, Travel

It was a simple enough question. Under ordinary circumstances this interaction between strangers might have produced a simple “no” and a polite but brief discussion.

These were not ordinary circumstances. I had arrived in Kenya only a few days earlier as part of a team attempting to do documentary work on good causes in East Africa. Learning that the World Social Forum was taking place in Nairobi, I stayed behind to network while most of my team went on to Uganda. With my camera draped over my shoulder, I wandered around the stadium looking for interesting people and causes to engage. This is when I received a life changing question.

“Excuse me, are you a journalist?” a man asked. “No” I answered. “I do some documentary work with photography and video but I am not a journalist.” Undaunted, he asked “Can I tell you about a project I am working on for my hometown village?” It is not uncommon to be approached by strangers in East Africa with requests for help. This question intrigued me, however, so I stopped to listen to the man’s story.

Traveling With My Sister

Causes, Travel

Rebekah and I on safari at Kenya's Maassai Mara.

Rebekah and I on safari at Kenya’s Maassai Mara.


One of the great joys of my life has been sharing my love of travel with my younger sister, Rebekah. Our shared adventures include a three week road trip through the American West visiting 13 states and 7 national parks. We once drove from Ohio to Homer, Alaska, spending a spontaneous summer together in the Last Frontier. We’ve traveled along Lake Superior’s scenic North Shore and camped at Southern California’s San Onofre State Beach. We learned to surf together in the Pacific Ocean and kayaked for the first time during one of our journeys to Colorado.

When I told her that I was heading back to East Africa she decided that she wanted to join me this time. I welcomed the idea of taking our initial trip together overseas, especially since this was our first chance to travel since she has given birth to two beautiful little boys.

Yadumu Team

The Story Behind the Yadumu Project

Causes

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.

The Nile is Not Just a River in Egypt

Causes, Travel

nile river 1
On a bright Sunday afternoon in Nimule, South Sudan, a group decided to set out on a walking trip to the Nile River. Following Elizabeth, a volunteer at the Cornerstone Children’s Home from Colorado, visitors and children alike set made this trek. The next few hours yielded rich cultural and natural experiences.

I walked alongside Jimmy, a sixteen year old orphan who speaks great English and always carries a sheepish grin on his face as though he is planning some kind of mischief. Jimmy is a fun to joke around with and behind his jovial manner is a kind heart. Enjoying this opportunity to get to know him, we spent most of the way there and back in conversation.

Playing a Game Called Dababa

Africa, Causes

You can learn much about a society by watching children play. The games and activities that they embrace can be instructive about the society in which they are raised. The children at Cornerstone Children’s Home in South Sudan played a that game that seemed impossible for us visitors to figure out. Aside from football (what we call soccer) it seemed to be their favorite game to play.

After trying in vain to figure out how the game worked I decided one evening to join in. Ohwilo, one of the boys from the children’s home, saw that I didn’t know what I was doing and grabbed my hand to try to walk me through it.

I found that they had created a grid by using their feet to make faint marks in the dirt. One team had to stay on the grid lines and try to touch any member of the other team which aimed to make it across the grid and back without getting tapped. If any of the players made it across before their teammates were touched, their team received a point. If somebody on their team got touched first by the children on the grid, the teams switched roles so that the other team got a chance to score points.

Two things stood out to me about this game. First, when I was watching them play I thought everybody was on their own. In the developing world people seem to more heartily embrace games like soccer where the mutual efforts of the community are central to the game. This was certainly true of this game and I chuckled when I figured out how far my individualistic perceptions were from reality.

Second, when I asked the children what the game was called it sounded like they said “Dababa.” For a minute I thought it was a poor pronunciation of “The Robber.” When I asked one of the staff members about the game I learned that it actually was called “Dababa.” The reason for the name is that during three decades of civil war in South Sudan, people referred to tanks as “dababa.”

This made so much sense because that team that was dababa could only run on the lines and the rest of the children could run anywhere within the grid to get past them. A popular children’s game based on the reality of war within their society demonstrates just how important is the peace that has finally come to South Sudan. I pray that the themes of war will fade into history as these precious children experience a new era of peace.

I Want to See the Photos

Africa, Causes, Travel

Children everywhere love to see photos. On my first day in Southern Sudan I met a little girl named Dorothy at the Cornerstone Children’s Home. Most of those who know her call her by her nickname, Nyonyo. I was carrying my camera at the time so she pleaded, “I want to see the photos.”

After showing her some of the pictures she approached me later on asking to see the photos on my phone. Every time I saw her for the first couple days I was there she repeated in the same begging voice, “I want to see the photos.”

One evening I saw her and jokingly said the same thing to her using her tone of voice. She promptly disappeared and then returned with a small photo album. I sat down on the concrete with her as she told me about the people in her photos.

This was a moving moment for me. Here’s a girl who has lost her parents but because there are people loving on her, she has pictures of a past that she can look back on with joy. I understood better than ever why she wanted to see my pictures.

Looking through Dorothy’s pictures helped me to appreciate the power of photos to connect people with their past. I have captured many images over the past few years but few of them are printed or in a format that can help others remember their experiences unless they are in front of my computer. I think I need to do something about this.

east-africa-graphic-wide.001

My East Africa Journey

Africa, Causes, Travel

I have embarked upon my third journey to East Africa. Stepping off the plane this morning in Uganda I looked out over Lake Victoria and it felt wonderful to be back in this region. I feel more at home in East Africa than anywhere else outside of my home country in the United States.

The story of why I am here starts about six years ago when I co-founded a project called Mission Focus. Our intent was to provide creative communication services, such as web, video, photography and writing, for those engaged with critical causes around the globe. We have since changed the name to Bridge Cause because we build a bridge between causes and the creatives who can help them reach supporters.

The other co-founder, Brian Denton, runs Incendia Creative, a creative agency in Monterey, California. A local group approached him over the summer to help them build a web-presence for their project to support the Cornerstone Orphanage in Nimule, Southern Sudan.

Realizing that they would need to some quality photography and video footage, they asked who they could take on their upcoming trip and Brian volunteered me. This provided a wonderful opportunity to help support this vital cause and also to return to East Africa where I also have other projects in progress.

I will spend the first week and a half at the Cornerstone Orphanage in Nimule, documenting the work that takes place there. The aim is to not only connect with the children but also to tell the story of They Are One, the group from Monterey that is supporting them.

When the rest of the group flies back to California, my sister Rebekah will join me and we will spend an additional two weeks in Kenya. Meeting with the people of a village called Rakwaro we will be working with them on how to build a well for their community. The goal is to figure out a way that they can be empowered to change their future by participating in their own development.

I also look forward to revisiting the El-Shaddai Hope Centre for Orphans in the Nairobi area. The final item on our agenda is a safari since it is Rebekah’s first trip to Africa. This is why I have returned to East Africa and there will be much more to write about in the weeks to come.

art-board

The Best Gift

Causes, Life

I thought long and hard about what to give Bethany, my girlfriend, for her birthday this year. I wanted the gift to be a creative way to remember some of our best moments together. Working my way through many iterations of this potential gift I finally landed on an idea that seemed to have potential.

I found a bulletin board with a natural wood frame and a surface that resembled canvas. Realizing that it was not only Bethany’s style but also a great way remember our adventures, I knew that I had finally uncovered the right gift.

There was no shortage of ideas for how I could arrange mementos and inspiration on this board for her wall. The problem was that even though I like to think of myself as creative she is much more artistic. I wanted to choose the best art and memories and to arrange them in the most aesthetically pleasing way.

A few days before giving Bethany the gift I finally made my discovery. The best gift that I could give her was to empower her to use her creativity to enrich her own life. Instead of doing something else for the day and adding the gift into the mix, making the board together could actually be our celebration.

Energized by this newfound inspiration, I traveled around to art stores looking for artistic additions for our board and even found some old nautical charts at a marine supply shop. Combining these discoveries with the treasures that we had already saved from the past gave plenty of material to add to her board.

The day that I gave Bethany her gift and helped her put it together was one of our best times together yet. Going through our old memories and future inspirations raised engaging conversations. Rather than being a passive recipient, Bethany came alive as an active participant, using her creativity with joyous energy.

I learned something important from this situation. The best gift is not merely to give things to people but to stimulate them to use their creativity to enrich their own lives.

This is making me think about the work that I am trying to do in Africa right now. For the last several years I have been trying to figure out how to help develop a community in central Kenya by helping them secure a much-needed well. Most of the time my thought has been that if the job is going to be done I will have to provide the funds to make it happen.

The best gift is not merely to give things to people but to stimulate them to use their creativity to enrich their own lives.

I attended a conference recently called Ending Poverty Together where Cory Glazier helped me to rethink my approach. The idea that he helped instill into my thinking is that the best gift you can give a community is to help empower them to solve their own problems.

When development is human-centered and the community goes from being recipients to participants, they can discover that they have the capacity to change their own situation for the better. I felt unsettled about my old approach anyway so now I’m rethinking how to give the best gift that I can to my friends in Kenya.