On this blog I normally let my photographs speak, not cluttering the page with my words. This post is different. For once I’ve decided to come out from behind my camera and give you a glimpse of me.
My wife Caren and I have been working in Kenya for more than 13 years. This is ironic. After our first trip to Kenya, we were convinced we’d never go back. Not that there was anything wrong with Kenya – there were just better places to see African wildlife (Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania), and more of the world to explore.
But on that trip, we met the local Kenyan people.
And the local Kenyan people had these wonderful, unforgettable, underserved kids.
Our story from there is as crazy as it is simple. We didn’t start out to become educators, fundraisers, project managers, and community organizers. We took this journey one step at a time, learning along the way. All because we wanted to help some kids.
A small gift became a school, which grew into another school, which multiplied to become The Kilgoris Project – a network of 6 schools blossoming with programs for more than 800 students, their families and the local community in southwestern Kenya. As the organization has grown, there has always been one consistent theme – “Serve the kids”.
Soon after we started building schools, we realized that there was no point trying to teach kids to read and write if they were too sick or too hungry to learn. Enter clean water, medical, and feeding efforts. We noticed that kids don’t come to school if their parents are too sick or desperately impoverished – cue community health education and economic development.
We’ve now sprouted an indigenous Kenyan staff, as well as a support staff in the US. We partner with the local Kilgoris community, international NGOs, US organizations and individuals all over the world. Even now, it feels like this journey is still just beginning. There is still much more to discover. As we go forward, we know we have a simple guiding principle “Serve the kids”.
We are often asked how our faith influences us and if our schools are “Christian”. Yes, our schools are Christian, in what we believe is the most authentic way. Jesus tell us “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me”. Like Jesus, we accept anyone – rich, poor, healthy, sick, Christian, Muslim, atheist, whatever. We offer what we do with no agendas or strings. All are welcome, because it’s all about the kids.
Kids, photography and faith connect for me in such a natural way. I get to blend my passions and see amazing work happening half a world away. I never imagined I would get as lucky as this.
Ok, that’s enough personal exposure from this photographer. Time to jump back behind the camera where I belong. More images soon.
These images were taken after spending a week at The Kilgoris Project in Western Kenya. This month, The Kilgoris Project is raising money to add electricity to one of it's schools.