why would you spend thousands of dollars and travel halfway across the world to help people you don't even know? don't you think it'd be better to just send them the money and spend your time doing something else? - these were the questions posed to my friend lee last year before we left for kibera. it's also what he focused on in an e-mail to friends and family yesterday when he wrote about the trip coming this summer. you see, some of my closest friends are going back to kibera to focus on the stories of those we met last year. i asked lee if i could let you guys read his words and maybe - find some help.
Since my trip to Kibera (the slum in Nairobi) last summer, there have certainly been many ups and downs. I shot a lot of footage (and began editing), met some amazing people and saw some incredible things happen in the lives of those involved in the trip. The Reagan High kids have gone in many directions since last summer, but one thing is for sure - Kenya has left its mark on us forever.
Here I am, one year later, headed back to Kibera. But this time with a different group. A different perspective but the same focus.
This year's team is smaller - made up of only six people. Me, Chris Reichman (the amazing photographer who also went on last year's trip), both our wives Virginia and Erin, Thea - a returning Reagan High student and Erin's sister Hailey.
Our team's mission and focus this year will be the same: build into the lives and the kids and community at the New Hope School and feeding center (operated by Manna Worldwide) and share those stories with the world.
In addition, I plan to interview Kenyans and develop more of the African side of the documentary. I'm excited to see all of the changes made in the last twelve months. They've bought more land, put up a new school building, new kids have come and more wonderful stories are occurring every day.
One incredible story that came from our trip last year was the relationship between the teen counterparts, Nijalon (American student) and Daniel (Kenyan student). They both love to sing and write rap songs. The moment we got off the bus they had an immediate connection. What happened next, you could hardly believe...they wrote a song together, recorded it in a "studio" near the slum and had it mastered by a Kenyan producer. And if that's not enough, on the last day we were there, we shot a music video! Crazy.
I cut the music video together and submitted it to a film festival in Austin. To my great astonishment, it was selected and even won an award. Not for the music video itself, but for Nijalon and Daniel. Their song received the "Rising Star" award for artistic talent under the age of 18. They were each awarded a 1000 dollar scholarship. This will completely pay for Daniel's entire high school. Simply amazing.
Let's revisit my opening question: Why go? Spend the money? The time?
The answer: because of people. Relationships. Daniel. Nijalon. Festus. Rose. Thea. The names and faces keep flooding my mind. Kenyans, Americans, friends, family...all part of this trip. All part of this journey. If all we did was raise money, what impact would that have had on our lives? Good, no doubt, but would it have been the same? What about the American teens from Reagan? The Kenyan students? Would they have been as affected? Absolutely not. If you think they would have, just ask Nijalon and Daniel.
We're going back and we need your help. We've been hard at work raising money for this trip. In fact, we spent a month collecting items from friends, family and neighbors to sell at a giant, weekend-long garage sale. We had tremendous success with this sale and raised over 3100 dollars! Who knew?! God works through garage sales. We were amazed at how much money this sale earned.
While this was an incredible starting point, we still need to raise additional support. Each member of the team needs 3100 dollars for airfare, lodging and meals.
And we need the money faster than we thought - by May 10.
If you're interested in helping us get there, our contact information is on our website Love to Kibera. You can also contact Elora and she can get you the info needed or make a donation on Manna Worldwide's secure site. Make sure to mention our trip number in the comments section - 06-1133.
Even if you can't support this financially right now, we still need your prayer. This will be a long journey. Thank you so very much for your consideration!
Sincerely, Lee (for the entire Love to Kibera 2011 team)