IT’S HERE! The blog post that many of you have asked about, and that I am so eager to share! I am thrilled to share with you what I did during my time in Nakuru, Kenya last month; what I learned and how this trip has impacted my whole perspective on service and ministry. But first, let me give you some background about how I got involved and what Hope for Life Kenya is all about.
When I was a budding photographer, I remember telling my peers that my ultimate dream would be to split my time between doing weddings and doing documentary photography for an organization or ministry that is supporting a cause(s) that I truly believe in. I somehow thought, that this dream wouldn’t happen til much later in my career, but I finally realized I needed to stop saying “one day…” and start saying “YES!” It was a dream that could happen… all I needed was me. I needed to step outside my comfort zone and be willing to put actions behind my words, my heart, and my passion, because why wait?
What it comes down to is… I love telling stories. I love using my gifts as a storyteller and a listener in ways that truly encourage those on the other side of the camera, but, to be honest, 9x out of 10 I am the one that walks away feeling encouraged and inspired. This past January I had the incredible privilege of documenting the story of a woman named Josephine, the founder of Hope for Life Kenya, and I must say… this Passion Portrait Project changed me. It shaped my perspective on poverty and the appropriate approach to helping those in need in developing countries or communities. (But more on that later :)
While I was attending Wheaton College in Chicago, IL – I was involved in the jr high ministry at Wheaton Bible Church (WBC). This past November my godmother Juli Watt (who attends WBC and is a photographer herself) wrote me an email sharing that the church was sending a small and intimate team to Kenya and that they were looking for a 2 photographers that would join the team and go to document the story behind Hope For Life Kenya. Juli knew my heart for documentary photography and for working in Africa, after living in Ghana for a year and half, and asked if I’d like to join her on the team. I did not even have to finish her email before I knew my answer. YES.
WBC has been supporting Hope for Life Kenya (HFLK) for many years and HFLK recently got their non-profit status and are currently in the process of building their new website to raise awareness and support. So our primary role was to tell the full story of Hope for Life Kenya, as well as the WBC global team, through the art of photography, so they can give a better picture of what they are doing and how they are impacting their local community in Nakuru, Kenya. During our weeks in Nakuru we visited a number of transformational development projects in different villages, as well as other Hope for Life ministries, working with single mothers and widows who have HIV, but spent majority of our time at the Hope for Life Kenya Orphan Care Center.
A little background on Hope for Life Kenya (paraphrased from their blog): In 2001, this ministry was started by a Kenyan woman by the name of Josephine Kiarii who saw the need in her poverty stricken neighborhood. This ministry includes an Orphan Care Center that serves 150 children who are orphaned because of HIV/AIDS. What does Hope for Life provide?
Hope for Life:
- serves a healthy meal once a day to each student and a daily Bible lesson
- tutors after school, provides help with book & school fees
- offers vocational training on Saturdays
- supports family with caring intervention
- supports those with HIV
Josephine saw a need in her neighborhood. So many children had tragically lost their parents from HIV and were left alone…and when she reached out to those in her community for support and teammates that would help her find solutions for these children, the room went silent. They believed it was a lost cause. That Josephine was being too idealistic, because according to them, these children were hopeless. Josephine didn’t see it that way. She had faith, and believed that things could change for these kids…and they did. :) Fourteen years later…it is truly remarkable all that Josephine, with WBC’s support, and her small team has done. HFLK has dramatically changed the course of these kids lives, and not just these kids lives but so many different surrounding communities that are impacted by HIV. But now that these kids are getting older, their schools fees become a lot more expensive – so we had the opportunity to interview all the of the high school kids and learn more about their stories, for the potential possibility of starting a sponsor program to help find sponsors who would be interested in helping a kid finish his/her education.
Before I dive too deep into how this trip has shaped me and impacted my views towards development work, I’ll save that for Part 2. I hope you enjoy this journey I was blessed to experience through my Passion Portrait Project : Hope for Life Kenya. Here are a few images of the kids at Hope for Life – but I hope you check back for part 2 – as I share more about my heart and what I learned about our approach towards poverty and serving those in need in ways that truly benefit the community in sustainable ways.
Jane, a woman struggling with HIV, with the support from Josephine and her transformational development team “Unique Mothers” – she was able to start a nursery school for the kids in her neighborhood called Hope for Kid Nursery.
The one and only Josephine :)
The kids at HFLK teaching Kyle swahili.
I LOVED how much music and dancing was incorporated in almost every activity!
Robby, a worship leader at WBC, brought his guitar and taught the kids guitar lessons and left his guitar there for them to continue to play and practice with.
And Kyle taught some of them the basics on the keyboard (also was left at Hope for Life for the kids to enjoy).
We organized their library while we were there so it was easy to use for kids and the kids LOVED reading time with Jill.
A standard traffic jam during our time in Nakuru. :-) Reminds me of Ghana!
Our Team :)
More to come about my time in Kenya with the Wheaton Bible Church GO Team. Big thank you to Barb + Scott for being great hosts during our time in Kenya!