My daughter, Hillary, is in the middle of a summer photojournalism internship in Kenya and recently published her first blog post and set of photographs. First off, she didn’t have to show up her dad by out-blogging him on the very first post, but what can you do with these millennials? And second, her photographs are simply stunning.
With no actual reason, I immediately set out to narrow the 150 pictures to my favorite one. This proved impossible. There are several that feature little kiddos that are just too awesome. Like, for instance…
But my quest continued, and I succeeded in identifying two photographs that go together in my opinion to tell a powerful story.
As its website explains, “[t]he mission of Made in the Streets is rescuing children from the streets of Nairobi, Kenya, meeting their physical, emotional and spiritual needs, loving them fully, equipping them to earn a living and sending them out to a new life.” It is a beautiful thing to observe firsthand, and what is full of beauty are the children.
Now don’t be mistaken. This is not some make-believe world where staff members ride in on unicorns and pick up innocent children off puffy clouds and ride off on rainbows while angels sing. No, it is messy work, and these children have seen and done and had done to them terrible things. But what is striking when hanging out with these rescued kids are their good hearts in spite of such a painful past. Their smiles are contagious. Their basic human dignity is unmistakable.
Which is why I narrowed down my daughter’s works of art to two particular photographs. The first is of a young man still living on the streets, and I love this particular picture because his smile betrays that good heart although he remains in the frightful streets of Nairobi.
But there is a second picture that in my mind completes the story. It is Jeremiah, the first student I met on my trip earlier this summer. Jeremiah is a big boy, close to my height and twenty times stronger. He could be intimidating, but he is just the opposite—a kind, thoughtful, funny, tender young man. Jeremiah sits in the front row of his classes and is an eager learner. He likes to act in drama productions. He is a good friend to many.
Hillary took a picture of Jeremiah being silly, and I absolutely love it because at one point Jeremiah was that young man in the other photograph, living in abject poverty but with a smile that betrayed his good heart I’m sure. And the “after” photograph powerfully shows Jeremiah’s joy.
(And, I can’t help but say it given the title of my entire blog, I love that he is looking up.)