Thursday, September 4, 2014

Nairobi, Kenya: The photo project

So, I was telling Arty (one of our mission pastor and Kenya leader) about this thing called Help Portrait and how we should think about hosting a help portrait event with our local community partners. This would be a special day with free family photos taken and printed on site for local families in transitional living or just people from the community who might not get the opportunity to have a portrait taken. Pretty quickly Arty got excited and announced that we need to do this project in Kenya. So, while I was thinking about the different global trips Eastside had coming up he helped me decide for sure I would be going back to Kenya. Fast forward 6 months and I was in Kenya - ready to figure out how this whole thing would work.

I did a lot of research and did a lot of price comparison on amazon and ended up with all our supplies:
Portable Printers, Ink & Paper from Canon  /  Batteries & chargers  /  White photo mats  
Tape  /  Markers  /  Card readers  /  Photographers

We had a plan and were ready to take up to 3,000 photos in our 5 days of this project. Our plan didn't go quite as expected. We got to the first day, drove down a small alley in our big bus and arrived to a huge crowd waiting. They had heard about the family photo opportunity. My immediate thought was something like, "Oh crap." I mean, it was really awesome but I wasn't sure we could get through everyone in the crowd and was sad just thinking about turning people away. 

This picture is borrowed from Taylor (my photographer partner) since I was too overwhelmed to capture the scene around us. This line went on and on. Our Kenyan friend was showing people an example of what they would be getting.

Well, we took a ton of pictures, printed as fast as we could and caused a bunch of chaos. People were cutting, pushing and getting a little bit upset. Order and lines weren't really working. When we finally stopped to breathe and eat some lunch we had to come up with a new plan. We weren't getting to share why we were doing this and connect with anyone. We wanted to opportunity to get to know them and share a little about God's love.

So.. time for a new plan:
- Hand out 40 frames to the next 40 families in line
- Take pictures of those 40 families
- Send each family to our waiting area while we print
- Our Kenya team would then share about who God is and his love for them (and some other stuff I couldn't understand)
- We would print away
- The families would get the opportunity to ask God into their lives, receive prayer or just connect with our team
- That round of families would leave and we would start with the next batch

This became our new plan and it worked really well at each location. I still have yet to count but we did somewhere in the area of 1500 family portraits in four days. This meant we got to connect with, smile alongside and provide a picture for over 4,500 people - not to mention share about God's love and pray with many of them about the deep yet basic necessities of their lives.  Many of these adults had never had a picture of themselves or their families. It was so interesting, heart breaking and yet life giving to see them look at and proudly walk away with their portrait. 

Taylor captured this picture of our sponsor child and her mom on the first day! 

The finished product

One of our team members praying with a gentlemen from the portrait session after sharing her testimony

I saw a bunch of kids gathering around something as I ran back to take more portraits so I snapped a picture. Later I found out Taylor was in the picture drawing an elephant in the sand. Love it!

The waiting area / Sharing the gospel during photo printing

Kaci working hard!

Taylor and I on the last day - Captured by Kaci Thomas
I am so proud of Taylor. When she heard about the photo project she couldn't wait to sign up and use her passion & talent with families in Kenya. She was great with everyone and so intentionally loved each person in the community. She's just started college and I know God has big plans for what's ahead on her journey. I can't wait to see how that unfolds.

I am honored I got to be a part of this new project in Kenya and each family who came to a photo session. I hope that each time they see their portrait they know how valuable they are and are reminded of the hope their creator. I look forward to seeing how this idea unfold for future trips.

1 comment:

Sharon said...

Phyl! I finally got caught up and read all of your Kenya posts. Beautiful. So encouraged by the good work you did there. As always, beautiful captures!