Compassion International - Kenya

This post is about a week overdue.  Better late than never right?

Last week we got back from Kenya.  It was my second trip there with Compassion International in as many years.  I won't go on and on like I usually do.  Compassion is something I'm very passionate about but I'm going to let someone else do the talking this time.  One of my favorite things on these trips is to see people witness Compassion for the first time.  Andy Blanks came along this time and he's much better at communicating the experience than I am.  Here's the link.  Read it and enjoy.

It also wouldn't be a photo blog without some of my favorite pics from the trip:

Compassion International - Kenya

Compassion International - Kenya

Compassion International - Kenya

Compassion International - Kenya

Last year I had the amazing experience of meeting one of our sponsored kids with Compassion.  His name is Brian and he lives in the Mathare Valley slum, one of the most dangerous in all of Africa.  It was by far one of the coolest experiences of my life.  So when they told me we were going to have the opportunity to spend a half day with our sponsored kids, I was pumped.

Brian is so awesome.  He remembered me from last year and ran straight to me.  We took pictures, looked at crocodiles, played on some rinky-dink fair rides, I almost threw up because of them, he jumped around in an inflatable castle (I wasn't allowed in), we kicked the ball around.... it was a great time had by all.  Brian and his family are doing great, and it was amazing to spend this kind of time with him.  I realize its very rare to meet a sponsored child and I don't take it for granted.

Here's Brian:

Compassion International - Kenya

Here are a couple portraits I did while we were with a Masai tribe:

Masai - Kenya

Masai - Kenya

And we finished off with a trip to the Masai Mara:

Masai Mara

Earthquake in Haiti

This is Haiti:

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

I've had this picture in my head all day today as I thought about what the devastation could possibly be like in Haiti.  I just can't image any of those homes are still intact after a 7.0 earthquake.  I took this shot a little over a year ago while visiting the offices of Compassion International with Student Life.  I've been to 7 different countries outside the United States in my lifetime and every single one of them are considered 3rd world nations.  Of those 7, Haiti is by far the most shocking and devastating.  As far as we drove, in any direction, there was simply no escape from the poverty.

Now, I'm not writing this to talk about my experiences in Haiti, or to showcase my photography.  I'm writing this post to show you Haiti.  To help you understand.  To make sure you're not just watching the news and saying to yourself "I feel so bad for those people over there" and letting it end there.  I realize how difficult it can be to understand what it's like in these 3rd world nations without seeing it.  That's what's great about photography, it can inform.





The shots above are what I remember most about Haiti.  Wall-to-wall people and shacks as far as the eye can see.  The poverty there is absolutely overwhelming and it terrifies me to think about what it must have been like to be amongst the crowds of people when the earthquake started.

Here are some of the facts about the country of Haiti:

  • Over 80% of Haiti lives in poverty, making it the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

  • The majority of Haitians live without electricity or clean water.

  • Over 66% get no work, and those who do work earn the equivalent of about $2 a day.

  • Over 60% of the country lacks basic health care.

  • Only about 4% of the land is in forest, compared to 30% of US land, meaning Haiti relies on imports just to feed its people.  Currently the land in Haiti is only capable of providing for about 40% of the population.

  • Extreme weather conditions further threaten the land, with torrential rains during hurricane season racing down deforested mountains and destroying fields, roads and homes.

  • Haiti also has the highest infant, under-five and maternal mortality rates in the western hemisphere.

  • In 2008, hurricanes claimed the lives of over 800 citizens, and the mudslides produced have put most without clean water.

And if all that weren't enough, they were just hit with the worst earthquake in the Caribbean in over 200 years.

It's time for the Church to be the Church.  Please pray for Haiti and consider donating here


I have no idea how on earth to pronounce his name but here's Tekalign:compassion-tekalign-yonas_

If you know me at all, then you've probably heard me go on and on about Compassion International.  Tris and I sponsor 2 children with Compassion, Innocent in Uganda and Brian in Kenya (I met Brian a few weeks ago, scroll down and read that post.)  It is by far the best use of our money.  I've had the opportunity to travel around the world and see how Compassion works, and as of last week I became an official advocate.  This probably means you're going to hear a LOT more about Compassion, but it also means you can sponsor a child directly through me rather than going on the website.

Compassion works.  I've met the children, I've walked in their neighborhoods, I've been to their homes, and I've met those who where, but are no longer in poverty.  If you have any questions about child sponsorship, please contact me.  I'd love to share my experience.  And if you want to sponsor Tekalign, let me know.

I promise the next post will be actually about photography... since that is what this blog is supposed to be about.

Masai Mara

Well, the trip is over and we're all back home safe and sound.  It was an incredible trip capped off by a visit to the Masai Mara National Reserve for a safari.  Masai Mara is the northern continuation of the Serengeti National Park and is the site of the Great Migration every year.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the Great Migration, just think of that really awesome shot of all the wildebeest and zebras from Planet Earth.  The safari was awesome, we saw 4 of the big 5... lions, black rhinos, elephants, and buffalo... those leopards were stubborn and wouldn't come out.  Here are just a few pics from the trip:


This was our last full day in Nairobi.  Long and short of it, we went to Church, we ate lunch, and we visited a college in downtown Nairobi where a lot of LDP students attend.  It was a great day.

I could write a book on our Church experience, but I won't... I'll just say it was loud, long, and hot.

After the poverty we've been exposed to for the past 3 days, it was a nice change of pace to just have a day to spend with the LDP students.  It occured to me that I talk quite a bit about LDP students, but I've never explained it. LDP stands for Leadership Development Program.  Once a child goes all the way through the program and graduates high school, they are eligible to apply to the LDP program.  It is another sponsorship based program in which the students will now be sponsored through college. It is highly sought out by Compassion high school grads, and not easy to be accepted into the program.  These are the best of the best and are some of the smartest people I've ever met.

These students are proof Compassion works and their children will not know poverty.

[caption id="attachment_37" align="alignnone" width="580" caption="Jennifer Gitiri"]James Njahi

James Njahi


Jennifer Gitiri[/caption]

Diana Aluso Diana Aluso

Ibrahim Olaiseh (photo by Drew Francis) Ibrahim Olaiseh (photo by Drew Francis)

Faith Njeri (photo by Drew Francis) Faith Njeri

Hezron Aidi Hezron Aidi