As the harsh reality of the post-holiday season sets in, we're still daydreaming about our Christmas in Kenya. We rang in the New Year with 170 of our closest friends and family -- our Free The Children staff. We all left our hearts in the Mara, so we thought we'd give you a little taste of our volunteer adventure right here.
My business partner and I created the concept of Fund a film; Aid an Island. We decided to make our first feature film, Nightrunners, by combining the popularity of horror/thriller genre films with a beautiful location and a team of Kenyan locals who are thrilled at the prospect of telling a story featuring their own culture while being paid to tell it.
It is a test of manhood from another time and place, with a modern twist: For 15-year-old Jackson Ntirkana to earn a chance to go to high school, he had to become a warrior first -- by killing a lion. Although born into a traditional nomadic Maasai family that tended livestock on the savannah, Ntirkana dreamed of going to school and becoming a politician, building bridges between his people and the rest of Kenya. Now Ntirkana and his friend are touring Canada promoting their joint autobiography, The Last Maasai Warriors.
Robin Wiszowaty left the gleaming strip malls, street grids and coiffed lawns of suburban Illinois for the wilds of rural Kenya in 2002. And she's never looked back. What was meant to be a brief exchange from the University of Illinois to the small Nkoyet-naiborr community in Kenya's Maasai Mara has morphed into her life's adventure. Here, Robin Wiszowaty tells us how she fell in sync with the heartbeat of Africa, and how she found her home.
The 13 members of the Slum Drummers -- nine men and four women -- pulled themselves from lives on the streets of Kenya's most desperate slums to perform with instruments made from trash on stages around the world -- including for the Queen. Now they're using their music as an instrument of hope, reaching out to street kids in the communities they came from.
When he's not touring the world or recording albums that continue to influence generations of younger musicians, Rush singer and bassist Geddy Lee supports a grape cause. A wine-loving philanthropist, Lee, 59, sits on the board of directors of the Grapes For Humanity Global Foundation, a charity organization founded in Canada, and expanded in 2007 with a U.S. arm that has collectively raised over $4 million through numerous wine-related fundraisers.
Fatumo's childhood was contained in the world's largest refugee camp; a place we worry carries a stigma for harbouring victims who await handouts. She fought against a bleak fate that seems sealed by outside media: images of desperate people who refuse to help themselves. Instead she chased a dream to study abroad.
Journalists predicted that the rains would come in October, implying that this would end the crisis. But by then, the planting season will have passed. The rains, if they come, will likely bring flooding and disease. The famine may peak in early December, as we are preparing to celebrate our winter holidays.
I awoke this morning to the stories of Kenyan parents trying frantically to douse the flames burning their children after yet another pipeline explosion. As I looked at those images, I thought about how this week is the 40th anniversary of Greenpeace and began to wonder how much of our work in the coming years will be rapid response to these disasters.