A Change in the Air – photography exhibition October

A Change in the Air – photography exhibition documenting the changing lives of the nomads in Uganda, supporting 25 years of international NGO PENHA’s work in the Horn of Africa.

A Change in the Air, documenting the Bahima people in Uganda, photography by Vanessa Champion, exhibition at Calumet, Drummond Street, supporting 25 years of international NGO, PENHA.

A Change in the Air, documenting the Bahima people in Uganda, photography by Vanessa Champion, exhibition at Calumet, Drummond Street, supporting 25 years of international NGO, PENHA.

Two week long exhibition of photographs taken by our director and photojournalist Vanessa Champion on location with the Pastoralist and Environmental Network in the Horn of Africa (PENHA) in Uganda, which kicks off their year-long cultural and academic festival celebrating 25 Years of essential work in Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti.

Generously supported by Fujifilm UK who is printing the whole exhibition on their Photo Pearl Board and kindly hosted by Calumet in their flagship store in Drummond Street, London.

It was an amazing experience to work with these gentle people whose laughter is infectious and kindness completely effervescent!” said Vanessa.  “We left in October 2013, and on expedition with the team in Uganda I discovered that there are rising economic and personal challenges for those nomadic herders whose traditions and heritage is now threatened by a more sedentary life being urged upon them from the government which is recommending that they make a seismic change to their culture and settle into a more agro-pastoralist way of life. While this is of good intention, it means that there has to be a challenging shift in how Pastoralists live their lives. PENHA runs educational programmes to support this change, offering practical provision to increase revenue, training, as well as lobbying at legislative level to ensure the pastoralists’ views and heritage are included in the debate for land rights.”

The photographs document this change and the adaptability of these people as the advance of modernity and the necessity for these gentle people to keep up with the environmental, social and economic revolution.

There will also be a cultural display from PENHA, showcasing their art, textiles, craftwork and jewellery, plus the chance to learn more about the region and the work that PENHA does.

Supported by Calumet, Fujifilm and EIZO

Prints sold raise valuable funds for PhotoAid and PENHA’s work in the Horn, supporting nomadic groups, education programmes for women and children as well as training the families support themselves with new skills. PENHA is a valuable and trusted voice for the Horn of Africa nomadic people internationally

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URGENT APPEAL Children of Kitenge Africa – can you help?

Our director, Vanessa Champion, is a trustee of Kitenge Africa, and has just been sent this desperate request to help buy some much needed bedding for the children in Uganda.

At the moment they are sleeping on the floor, many to a room. It is a far better already than where they were before, having lived on the streets and slums in Kampala.

Now they are safe and are growing, they have regular health checks and education, they work as a team and slowly, their lives are being transformed thanks to dedicated work and voluntary free time given by professional people in Kampala who travel to support and mentor the children, often having to work longer hours to make up the time.

A clean bed at night, which is OFF THE FLOOR and has new clean mattresses will dramatically improve their lives overnight, literally. If you have a few dollars or pounds, please if you can, make a small donation, or indeed if you are able to buy a bed outright for the children they will name the bed after you!!

US$200 is UK £120 – you can use the link below or if you prefer to do it through us please let us know, drop us an email.

www.kitengeafrica.org/donate  Please share if you can, many many thanks for your help.

Urgent Appeal Kitenge Africa Foundation bed request for the street and slum children from Kampala, Uganda.

Urgent Appeal Kitenge Africa Foundation bed request for the street and slum children from Kampala, Uganda.

NEWS POST 26 – Children of Africa Art Exhibition, Red Earth Education

Blackheath Halls, SE1 London is host to this year’s colourful and vital exhibition of work by children from Africa. Any work sold helps Red Earth Education, which is an amazing organisation which teaches teachers in Uganda to help make the education of 1,000s of children phenomenally better. https://www.facebook.com/events/508020712612928/

A two month long exhibit running 20TH JULY – 20TH SEPTEMBER 2013. With a celebratory private view including live music on 5TH SEMPTEMBER from Abioye & Randall www.abioyerandall.com Doors open at 6:30PM. Prices start at just £10. Anything would be a wonderful support.

The Colours of Africa, exhibition of children's work from Uganda Africa, supporting Red Earth Education, teaching teachers in Uganda, Africa.

The Colours of Africa, exhibition of children’s work from Uganda Africa, supporting Red Earth Education, teaching teachers in Uganda, Africa.

Did you know there are more children under the age of 16 in Uganda than anywhere else in the world. Education is vitally important, it the best way forward in Africa, to improve lives at a young age, protect girls and encourage understanding and knowledge to help regeneration and progress in the country. Often classes have over 300 children in them. So to help the teachers in Africa cope better and be better teachers, Red Earth goes in and trains them. Professional educators themselves, Red Earth makes a difference at grass roots level. Will you help us change this?

THE COLOURS OF AFRICA – THROUGH HER CHILDREN’S EYES

If you find time while the exhibition is on, please go and support, write a comment in the book for the children to read, or if you can’t go, leave a message on their website and if you can spare a few pounds make a little donation (maybe skip that Starbucks coffee this morning and squeeze the £3 into the Red Earth pot?)

Thanks so much for your support, means a lot to hundreds of children.

The story we often receive of Africa is one of children hungry and malnourished, a place in need. This is not the only story to be told. We welcome you to a different story, one of dreams and ambition, creativity and wonder.

Help us to empower teachers and give children in Uganda the best start in life 🙂

Watch the short video on the homepage about Kampala http://www.redeartheducation.co.uk/Wordpress/

BLACKHEATH HALLS is just two minutes walk from Blackheath station.

There is ample parking in the Station Car Park (FREE after 6:30pm) which is two minutes walk from the Halls.

http://www.redeartheducation.co.uk/Wordpress/

NEWS POST 11 – Uganda and the Kitenge Foundation

written by Vanessa Champion

Street kids Kampala, Uganda

Street kids Kampala, Uganda

 

Kitenge school

Kitenge Foundation, School, Kampala. Photo copyright Justus

Our Director was recently humbled to be asked by the Kitenge Africa Foundation to become a trustee of their fervent and sincere charity rescuing street children in Kampala, Uganda. It was set up by Koojo Justus Kojax, a dynamic entrepreneur, former model  with a passion to bring hope and love into these unsettled children’s lives. Helping giving them back their childhood while educating them and equipping them with husbandry and vocational skills which will help give them confidence and independence to get jobs with the aim to meet the world head on as equals.

Vanessa Champion, Director of Dragonfly Communications, went to Uganda for the first time in November 2012 and was so surprised by the warmth, love and positive activity that is happening in this former war-torn and troubled country. Through business investment, the church and many many generous hours of people’s time, there is a change happening. And it is happening fast. Philanthropy, investment and determination is rebuilding hope, sustainable business and healing shattered lives.

Left to right, Kevin Ramussen from Denmark who is helping build the school with Koojo Justus Kojax, Founder of the remarkable Kitenge Foundation, bring hope, education and safety to children from the streets in Uganda.

Left to right, Kevin Ramussen from Denmark who is helping build the school with Koojo Justus Kojax, Founder of the remarkable Kitenge Foundation, bring hope, education and safety to children from the streets in Uganda.

While out there she was introduced through London-based  HABA, to Justus, an extraordinarily self-motivated and honest businessman. We interviewed Justus to see how we and maybe you could help further. His interview is below.  But before we get there, what is it they say? “Many hands make light work”? Even a little from many can be worth more than much from one. The children write to many of their supporters here in the UK and America, writing to school children of their own age, to mentors, to teachers, to friends. It gives them hope and they love to hear from you too. Maybe email them? Or donate or send a little something?

THE INTERVIEW

Justus standing with the children he has rescued from the streets in Kampala. Happier, healthier and safer.

Justus standing with the children he has rescued from the streets in Kampala. Happier, healthier and safer.

Tell us about the Kitenge Africa Project. Kitenge Africa Foundation (KAF) is a registered Non-Governmental Organization; based in Kampala, Uganda, East Africa.  Kitenge Africa Foundation was started with the aim of assisting the vulnerable and disadvantaged, primarily children, who were orphaned, homeless, and those children with special needs. The purpose is to establish compassion to transform these forsaken lives

What compelled you to start the project. I was humbled by the plight the street children lived on a daily basis, as well as the rejection and discrimination they receive from the people. Many judge these children unfairly and consider them nothing but cheats.

Being given a fresh start, a new chance, education, food and safety, transforms lives

Being given a fresh start, a new chance, education, food and safety, transforms lives

It was in October 2008, I was 19 years old when I first got the opportunity to identify with street children, and I was amazed by the respect and discipline they kept before me however crushed by the plight and struggle they had to endure each new day. This compelled me to set aside days, mostly afternoons at weekends, where I took them out for a lunch or dinner just to chat and spend time together. The bond grew stronger and that is when I started to provide their clothing, shoes and helped to give them the chance to wash, bath and have a haircut.

This later became a routine where they came to a public playground every Sunday evening between 3pm-5pm for a nourishing meal, minor medical attention, clothes donations, opportunity to bath, sports and games, a counselling session and relational talk which lead to us starting our Street Outreach program which we still do even today.

However, it was until September 2010 that one of them was stabbed to death late in the night by a thug only to be robbed of his little radio that he was holding by his ear having mistaken for a mobile phone that I felt much more had to be done in the lines of shelter and rehabilitation. This was a wakeup call for me to step out of my comfort zone and take action with regards to the housing

That is an amazing story, Justus, to be so giving with your own time, and so honest in your compassion. What is your own background?

I have been very ambitious all through my life as I have lived a life where my dreams, responsibilities, personality depict an older self than I by age.

In my high school vacation, I was only 18 years old when I started a clothing business where I traded ladies and gents wear. This left me with good exposure to business operations, the attitude to save and good management skills as well as quick decision making and independence.

Not a year later, I also started a small electronics store where I was dealing with refurbished gadgets like laptops, mobile phones, digital cameras, music players and accessories. This left me with so many financial management skills, customer care, marketing and public relations experience.

At the same time, I was a city model under Arapapa, one of the biggest agencies in Uganda at the time.

However, I later connected with the street children where I was completely devoted and there was no time to run my personal business. I was also very touched by the disadvantaged life they lived and this compelled me to sell off all my business and belongings in goodwill to be able to start this charity organisation. I am founder of KAF. [why not “like” their Facebook page? ed.]

In 2010, I got into the tourism industry having realized that many of the volunteers that come down to work with the children desired traveling and touring around at the end of the day and likewise, tourists that have only come to admire beautiful Africa also have big hearts for charity. So I am Assistant Director, to 1000 Shades of Green Tour and Travel-Tourism www.gogreensafari.com.

As a businessman here in Uganda, I am respected and I am the country representative to Horn of Africa Business Association-United Kingdom www.ha-ba.com

You face many challenges, but what are the most pressing ones? 

Education is freedom

Education is freedom

  • Feeding is key as the children must eat on a daily.
  • Jiggers in the class rooms, the floors and some structures are broken and since all children do not have shoes on, the parasites enter their bodies mostly through their feet. So there is need to mend the floor. [can anyone help with this? ed.]
  • Bedding material, in desperate need of mattresses, blankets, mosquito nets, beds [is anyone linked to a manufacturer? ed.]
  • Teachers, more qualified teachers are needed on ground; a school of 783 children has 10 teachers that is a challenge.
  • More buildings. We need more structures and more room [anyone a builder who can lend your skills? ed.]
  • Funds, realistically, much of resources is required to be able to run this project normally and to procure whatever the children deserve. [you can sponsor a child, which is a massive help to the charity as it means regular income they can budget with. ed.]
Helping as many children as they can, Kitenge are giving hope, light and love to many street kids in Kampala.

Helping as many children as they can, Kitenge are giving hope, light and love to many street kids in Kampala.

  • Transportation. This is also a major challenge faced apparently; the need to move around flexibly mobilizing resources and stuff for the children, transporting the children to different places and zones, transporting food and volunteers is a challenge. Public means is more tiring and more expensive. [anyone got any trucks, or work with a gas company in Africa who can help support them? ed.]
  • No power source. [anyone working in renewable / solar energy??? ed.]

What is your dream for the school and the children?  We have already procured the land where we want to seat our education facility. A better school to benefit the entire community with a provision of accommodation for the children and volunteers, study classrooms, laboratory and library. There will also be technical and vocational training skills facility that will ensure every child has a life skill they acquire besides education.

Volunteer with Kitenge Foundation, School, Kampala. Photo copyright Justus

Volunteer with Kitenge Foundation, School, Kampala. Photo copyright Justus

Do you have a need for teachers and volunteers? We are in great need for teachers, counselors, medical personnel, sports facilitators, photographers/media personnel, constructors, artists, (all professions can be sure to find a place they can volunteer and will feel much satisfaction of their time and effort).

Vanessa is heading out to Kampala later in the year to teach photography, a bit of drama, English. With the generosity of FujiFilmUK is taking some single use cameras with her, so that she can work with the children and the Kitenge Foundation to teach the children how to document their environment. We can support them with an exhibition back here in the UK and maybe take it to America through the other trustees and partners and into Europe. A book, of course would be fabulous, and an online downloadable book that the children can share and use as collateral when they go for jobs as well. [if you want to get involved, email Ness. ed.]

If you want to volunteer, Kitenge can help organise Accommodation for you, to stay as close to the children as you wish:

Staying full time at the school. This option gives you all the time you need with the children and community in the village. Meals and accommodation is at the school with the children. This means that you can volunteer in your area of profession conveniently.

Working with Kitenge is one of the most rewarding experiences you'll have in your life. Short term and long term opportunities. For your next holiday, why not head out and teach, make a difference for a fortnight. You'll return changed!!! And you will know that you have helped transform lives.

Working with Kitenge is one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll have in your life. Short term and long term opportunities. For your next holiday, why not head out and teach, make a difference for a fortnight. You’ll return changed!!! And you will know that you have helped transform lives.

Staying within the village Hostels: This accommodation arrangement is also very convenient and reliable as the hostels are about 2 kilometers from the school and still within the village. Transportation is by a motorbike back and forth the school and meals may be had both at the school and the hostels. The rooms are self contained and in a very good and secure farm environment hence good privacy. There is a solar power here so gadgets such as laptops, internet, and mobile phones can be used conveniently.

Staying with in Mpigi Town at the hotel: Accommodation is secured at beautiful and cheap hotel with in the Municipality of Mpigi district. The hotel is up on the hill with a beautiful view of the district of Mpigi. With this arrangement, volunteers need to commute to the school every day by a motorbike or vehicle. The school is about 8Kilometers from the hotel. The hotel has hydro power hence giving provision to use gadgets, internet and mobile phones also with very nice and private self contained rooms.

You can help Kitenge, by sending in gifts for the children, helping sponsor a child, getting your school to write to the children, fund raising, going out there to teach or help build the schools. Or just emailing or messaging them and sending love and support to the Foundation and maybe a special message to the kids, they would SO love that (you can even buy a chicken for or a pig!).

Thanks for reading the interview with the Founder of this amazing charity, Kitenge. We all make a difference every day to the world we are in, showing compassion and love to those around us are two of the greatest gifts anyone can give another human being. Listen to your heart and value everything your life touches. If you can help Kitenge, your word, gift or action will help continue to bring light to their darkness.

Rescued from the street in Kampala, given a new positive start in life, she too, will survive, learn, keep well and be able to help give back and educate when her time comes too.

Rescued from the street in Kampala, given a new positive start in life, she too, will survive, learn, keep well and be able to help give back and educate when her time comes too.