1. What makes you passionate about working with your NGO
One thing continually emphasized in my life is the power of education- formal, nontraditional, or self-inspired. Education remains a dynamic and pivotal platform that acts as the means of change in life. Growing up in Nairobi, I first embraced this understanding when I witnessed Masaii men using our dingy old trampoline as the means of their neighborhood Olympic showdown. These Masaii would tentatively circulate our house, cautiously eyeing the Rhodesian Ridgebacks lounging in the front and maintaining a wide girth, in order to access the trampoline and launch themselves into worldly play. I learned curiosity, competition, patience and community first from these men and their families. Education, in this form and in classrooms, has given me the tools to mold an identity for myself that seeks to understand the world around me and foster an environment that compels others to seek the same discovery. I believe that this curiosity inspires how education can be the grace that changes the world.
The Hillcrest AIDS Centre in South Africa provides a cultivated, caring and intentional educational platform that works within their communities that most desperately need support. The projects they have developed over the last 20 years seek to give the community the tools to change their immediate surroundings. I believe that knowledge is the most powerful tool on the planet; whether it be to understand the physics of lock kneed trampoline springing or how to filter water properly, and I want to use my love of storytelling to capture those movements.
2. How do you believe your photography can make a difference for them?
My photography comes from a place that is driven by understanding. Those moments that strive to enhance this understanding provoke a connectedness that people everywhere can relate to. In the summer of 2016 I was working in Bosnia as a part of my Master’s program working in post-trauma human development. Although my camera was always by my side, I surprised myself with the number of moments that I felt compelled to listen instead of whip out the camera. Cultivating moments of trust and sincerity is the story; being able to capture that in a photo is the art. Working in Bosnia exposed me to the power of empathy, and it has deepened a passion for storytelling that fosters connection and understanding.
I have now worked on several projects surrounding international storytelling across a series of countries. Within each experience, I pursue an essence in my work that is built on capturing a system understanding; to photograph not just a face but the food on the plate in front of them, or the shoes on their feet, or the roof over their head. All of these aspects contribute to the identity, and to the story, of the person in front of the camera. I am so thrilled to work as photographer with the Hillcrest AIDS Centre to share their system and passion with the world. They have established incredible structures to support their community and drive their mission, and I know I can contribute to sharing this understanding with the world through my storytelling.
3. What message would you like to send supporters?
My approach to this system understanding often starts with a single person or concept and builds from there. We are all part of this global system and have various means to express our connectedness. For me, it is through photography and the grace of storytelling that pursues a holistic, truthful and personal narrative. l will anticipate my time with Hillcrest AIDS Centre will be filled with compassion and tenacity, and I am incredibly grateful for any and all support for this project.