So, you might be asking yourself why I am going to Africa, and what I am doing there. The answer is pretty simple: I’m going to help!
The continent of Africa accounts for roughly 1/3 of the world’s impoverished people. There are over 48 million orphans in Africa, and barely 50% of the people in Africa have access to clean water, while the rest find what water they can. If they are very lucky, they might have a water well nearby. If they’re not, then they may have to walk to a parasite and disease-ridden watering holes, if they can even find one. The average walk to get water in Africa is over 3 miles, and in order to survive, they must carry an average of 44 pounds of water back to their homes. Add on to that the AIDS epidemic, civil war and terrorism, and you are faced with the reality that the people of Africa need a lot of help from the rest of the world in order to have hope for a better future.
There are a lot of great, well-known organizations working hard in Africa. Organizations like Unicef, World Vision, the Christian Children’s Fund, and others do a great deal of good. But they can’t do everything. And there are a lot of smaller organizations that are sharing the load and doing great work in Africa, often times in a smaller geographic area, with a more local focus. Two such organizations that are near and dear to my heart are Ugandan Gold Coffee, and Rehema Home Orphanage.
Ugandan Gold Coffee is a non-profit that was started many years ago to create a self-sustaining coffee plantation by the CEED (Christian East-African Equatorial Development) Trust. The farm is managed and worked on by local people, who prepare the coffee for sale in the U.S. The profits from the sales go back to the farm and village for water wells, health care, and all sorts of other needs that the people in that area have. I am going with a team who will be drilling water wells, repairing wells that have broken down, working on other repairs on buildings in the area, working with a local orphan ministry, and doing other various jobs around the coffee farm.
Rehema Home Orphanage is an home in Nairobi, Kenya that takes care of over 100 orphans. A friend of mine’s parents started it many years ago (he basically grew up in Kenya), and it is an incredible place of hope and dignity for children who have been orphaned or otherwise abandoned. I will be documenting the children and the difference that Rehema Home is making in their lives. It’s a fantastic organization, and a great cause. (In fact, my high school held a benefit concert called “Goatstock” last year, and the money raised went to Rehema Home.)
Both of these two organizations are doing amazing things in Africa! But they also have the desire to do more. There is a lot of need, and the bigger organizations like World Vision, etc., can’t do it all. Africa needs these types of smaller missions organizations just as much. And these smaller missions need to have more people getting involved in what they are doing so that they can help as many people in Africa as possible. And that’s where an artist and photographer like me can help the most. So my job is to capture the stories of the people these organizations are helping, and show the people here in America why they should give their time and money to causes like these.
So that’s why I’m going. I’m a do-er. I hate just sitting back and watching a problem when I know I can help out. So even if I’m not an engineer who knows how to drill water wells, or a corporate businessman who can help create a model for a self-sustaining farm, I can still do something to help these missions do the great work that they do. And that’s exactly what I hope to do.