Nuru-International-Africa-042It’s hard to believe it’s already been 6 weeks since returning from my trip to Kenya and Ethiopia. I remember when I first got back there was a strong part of me that wished I could pause time. That I could process all that needed to be processed. I wished I could extract every rich memory and hide it safely away. Safe from time. Safe from the acclimatization back to the life that I’m used to. Safe from what I believe is normal. But for good or for bad, that’s not fully realistic. After 3 different trips to Africa, I’m not sure I even fully know what “processing” means.

But in those three trips, what I do know is Africa has a way of changing you. It’s not always something I can fully articulate in a particular way, I’ve found it seems to be something much more below the surface. But despite it’s subtlety, I do know it’s changed my worldview. It’s changed how I understand life and purpose. Changed how I see people. How I see God. How I understand contentment. And how I view poverty. Even 6 weeks removed from the trip, these things continue to resonate.

With all this said, the trip wasn’t really about me and my experience. The focus rather was telling the story of Nuru International – the successes that they’ve seen over the last five years in their development in Isibania, Kenya and the abundance of need still present in their newer development in Boreda, Ethiopia. Nuru’s goal is to eliminate extreme poverty in each of their locations. They accomplish this through utilizing the resources available in a given community, teaching farming methods, educating health care practices, providing low interest loans, setting up the framework for farming and savings groups, and engaging in different social enterprises.

I went with Randy Warren of Advocate Creative. He focused on capturing video while I captured stills. Each morning we’d wake up before sunrise and drive out to visit with farmers. We’d listen to their stories and capture their everyday lives. In those times with farmers and their families, I heard about the 7 months of hunger that many of the families face, about the constant battles with disease, about fears of not being able to provide food or education for their children, and about prayers for the absent rain. But in the same breath I also heard about hope, plans for the future, laughter, dreams of business plans, and contentment. It’s really a staggering contrast that’s left a profound impact with me.

I can say with confidence that I believe in the mission of Nuru. But beyond that, and maybe even more importantly, I believe in how their accomplishing their mission. The people they’re serving don’t ultimately get overshadowed by the fulfillment of their mission. They ask questions before assuming answers. The natives are appoached with dignity and honor. And unlike many other development nonprofits their goal is for all non-native staff to leave the country in 6-7 years once the proper infrastructure is established. If you’d like to find out more about their work you can do so here: http://www.nuruinternational.org

It’s hard to post all of these images without full explanation. I’ve had to let go of the fact that I can tell every story that goes along with each one. I truly wish I could because it gives so much more context and power. But at the risk of putting off sharing them even further, this will have to do. Three years ago, I articulated probably in the clearest sense at that point in my life that I’d like to use my creative gifts for good in the world, and looking back, I’m amazed at where that desire has taken me. I’m truly grateful to have the opportunity to work with organizations like Nuru and humbled to tell their stories.

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