as an artist and as a fellow human soul navigating this crazy world…it’s always such an honor that people allow me in to capture them. it requires a quiet trust and it’s not something i take for granted. it’s an honor that they let their guard down and let me and my camera see into their soul–to be one in it’s calm presence for a short while..
my dear friend Amanda introduced me recently to Allan and we’ve since developed a true connection and a forever friendship. Amanda is one of the kindest souls i’ve EVER encountered. i’m honored to know her. and i learn from her kindness and humanitarianism all the time. she’s co-written this piece about Allan to accompany the photos i took a few weeks ago.
my life is forever enriched for knowing both of them.
if you are interested in joining us in welcoming allan to our great country and helping him as he starts his new life here please contact me in the comment section below. he deserves a great start and will surely turn any kindness you pass along to him into great things.
Allan, a 19 year old man arrived in Denver, Colorado, on October 17, 2014.
Allan’s journey began as a child in Uganda. Allan fled his homeland, for humanitarian reasons, as an orphan, at 15 for Kenya. Allan was homeless on the streets of Nairobi for three months as he made his way to Kakuma. Allan spent almost 4 years in a Refugee Camp – Kakuma, in Kenya, awaiting approval from the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the United Nations High Commission for Refuge relocation and safety in the United States. Kakuma is the second largest refugee camp in the world. Angelina Jolie started an all girl school there, the Lost Boys of Sudan, were in Kakuma, prior to relocation. This is a grueling and arduous process, not for the faint at heart. There are over 120,000 refugees seeking relocation services in Camp Kakuma alone. The inhabitants that call this their ‘refuge’ are from Uganda, Sudan, Somalia and Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and the Congo. They travel with the clothes on their back, and are provided a tarp, canteen and cooking pan to start their new life. It is important to know that the choice to stay in their homeland will in most circumstances inevitably result in their death at the hands of their own people and or their government.They are fleeing to save their life.
Allan has shared with us his valiant and tenacious ability to survive and thrive despite atrocious condition in Uganda and Kakuma. 6 kg of Maize (ground corn) was distributed to him every two weeks as his food source. He then had to be resourceful and barter for wood and oil to cook the maize so that he could eat once a day. Often times he ran out of maize and went without food for days, awaiting the next disbursement of food. 6 kilograms is 13 plus pounds of ground corn.
Water is a precious commodity in the arid African desert, temperatures reach 120 degrees on a regular basis. Each refugee is given a canteen which holds 2 1/2 gallons of water. This water is for consumption, bathing, cooking and laundry. Allan explained that he had to tie the canteen to his body and get up at 4:30 am to wait in line for hours for when the water would be turned on. The water was available from 1-2 pm. Often people would fight and be seriously injured in their attempt for this precious life altering commodity. If you had to go to the bathroom during that time frame, you could easily loose your place in line.
With Christmas approaching, I recall the story Allan shared with us as I had prepared scrambled eggs for him and we sat at the kitchen table listening to his story. It was Christmas time, I was alone at the Refugee camp, many people there have families, but I was alone. I had 5 cents. I thought to myself, what can I buy with 5 cents? I was all alone, but I was able to buy a lollipop.
Allan maximized his time and opportunities offered in the refugee camp. He is impassioned with cinematography and film. An international organization Film Aid, took him on as an apprentice and student for three years. Allan is a certified Filmmaker, editor and cinematographer. Did I mention that he is fluent in English, Swahili, Luganda, Gishu, and Rwandu.
Allan shared that a long term goal of his is to start an orphanage when he is financially successful. He envisions running the non-profit business from the United States, and providing an education and or training in an area of interest to the children so that they too can follow their passion with hope and have a dream of freedom from poverty and social injustice.
I have witnessed spaghetti and pizza being tasted for the first time. Allan has an affinity for pineapple, and chose pineapple and Canadian bacon for the toppings of his first pizza. He loves Chiapatti, as we have come to call tortilla’s, with rice and beans and chicken-quesadilla style.
To experience the snow and frigid cold temperatures through Allan’s eyes and senses this week is innocence and childlike abandon and expiration, all encompassing.
The Red String of Fate is a Chinese theory that states that there is an invisible red thread that ties us humans together, connecting us with humans that we are meant to encounter. Without question this kind and sweet soul divinely touched our hearts. We have a middle son, his name is Allan. I cannot imagine my world without him.
Allan despite his tremendous suffering has survived, and is guided by angels. I admire and adore this young man who inexplicably came into our lives three weeks ago. My life is enriched and blessed for having him in our family. He touches my maternal heart and soul, he teaches me the meaning of true love and God’s grace.