Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Raising Futures Kenya

As promised, I’m back with some photos from my time in Kenya with Raising Futures.

But first, I have a big favour to ask!

Having witnessed first hand the amazing work Raising Futures is doing in Kenya, I decided to fundraise for them by climbing Mt. Kenya in the summer - in its 5199 metres glory. Please help me reach my target of £2750, your support means a lot!

I believe every donation will ensure that children and young people are empowered through access to quality education and facilities.

Donations can be made here:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/dora-damian

The projects that I visited and photographed whist in Kenya are:

- Two specialist schools, Percy Davis and Kirunguru, where Raising Futures supplements the feeding programme, educational resources and a therapy room.

- Three Seed of Hope centres (Nairobi, Kitui and Kariti), where disadvantaged young people are offered free training in vocational skills, life skills and enterprise or job skills. This is to support students who cannot afford the cost of secondary school education.

The vocational training courses include motor mechanics, IT, fashion and dressmaking, hair and beauty, hospitality, carpentry and joinery.

I was so blown away by the young students' resilience, enthusiasm and commitment to learning despite the many barriers they are faced with, such as limited access to clean water and sanitation, lack of learning materials and resources, having to walk really long distances (3+ hours) to get to school. Worse yet, girls are at risk of rape and sexual assault on their way to and from school. Regardless, they turn up to school. Every day.

Since 2002, Seed of Hope vocational training centres have witnessed more than 1,500 young people graduate with the skills, confidence and experience they need to build secure livelihoods.

Young people have been exposed to high-risk situations including child marriage, child prostitution, familial abuse and extreme poverty. 72% of Seed of Hope’s student population are girls, the majority of whom have not had the opportunity to attend secondary school. 

Students receive training and after the completion of training Seed of Hope facilitates the launch of small businesses for graduates.

In September 2016, a survey of 209 SoH graduates found:

  • 69% had been idle at home before joining Seed of Hope and 20% engaged in casual labour

  • 86% are currently employed or self-employed, 5% in further education or training

  • 59% have no struggle to provide for themselves and their dependants

  • 89% contribute to their family’s needs every month

  • 50% are currently mentoring others in their community (of which 34% are mentoring 10 or more individuals)

  • 21% are currently training others

  • 5% are employing 1 or 2 people in their business

Seed of Hope Nairobi recently acquired a plot of land where they will build a brand new vocational training centre and offices. Presently, students, staff and teachers carry out their work from shipping containers. 

Any donation you make will help towards building a suitable learning hub, as well as tackling barriers these young students are facing.

Kenya phone snapshots

The end of October saw me on a rather long flight to Kenya with Vic Hancock-Fell, director of Vision Africa and roommate extraordinaire for a week.

During our stay, we visited and photographed the projects Vision Africa is supporting - three Seed of Hope centres in Nairobi, Kitui and Kariti, as well as the Percy Davis and Kirunguru specialist schools.

I will be releasing these photographs in the next few weeks with more detailed information.

In the meantime I’ve collated a few phone snapshots gathered whilst in transit.

Tandem Ride: John O'Groats - Land's End

This summer, Hugo and I cycled from John O’Groats to Land’s End. For fun. And fun it was, most of the time.

My friend Alice asked how it all went, and these were the first thoughts that came to mind:

  • This trip was a challenge on many levels. We had to be properly in sync. Constantly. If we had an argument or weren’t mentally there, it just didn’t feel right at all to be pedalling together.

  • We mostly wild camped which I didn’t expect to be so easy in the UK. Prime spots included a lay-by and the grounds of some leisure centre.

  • It put time in perspective. If a car can do a journey in an hour, it would probably take us an entire day. It involved plenty of coffee stops though.

  • I was blown away by my body’s resilience (and my mind too). Especially putting up with bum aches and leg pain amongst other things. I’m almost considering taking up running (which i majorly dislike) to see just how much I can push it. [Later edit: I did NOT take up running]

  • Big cravings for doughnuts and Hula Hoops for the entirety of the trip. And carbs, lots of carbs. Beans on beans on beans on toast. Mmmm. On that note, we ordered pizza whilst on the outskirts of Wolverhampton one evening. Waited outside some random person’s house for 45 minutes until the delivery man turned up. No address, no problem!

  • I thought that being on the back of a tandem meant I’d be able to take lots of photos as we cycled along, but it was scary handling the camera whilst not holding on to the handlebars. Plus, by the time my brain registered an interesting shot, we’d already cycled 1 mile past it.

  • I was on the back the entire time. We trialled it the other way round, but Hugo developed control issues and actively tried to steer whilst on the back. It wasn’t fun.

  • As a result, when we returned and I tried to ride my own bike, my brain erased the ‘how to steer a bike’ file. It took about half an hour to readjust. In the meantime, I rode straight into the kerb and almost face first into a bush. That wasn’t fun either.

  • Keen to do a big touring trip again soon. On an entirely different saddle. The pain is real.

  • Couldn’t ask for a better travel companion. Hugo, thank you for the moral support, beans on toast, excellent steering, remarkable tent/pannier packing skills, sing-along duets, endless pick-me-up hugs and high fives.

Night High - winner of the BMC WIA'18

Night High is a visual collaboration between highliner Sarah Rixham and photographer Dora Dc. The film encapsulates the dreamy flow state athlete Sarah Rixham finds whilst floating in untouched space on a one inch wide slackline. She uses the cover of night to explore unique urban gaps in the pursuit of this dream-like state induced by highlining.

 


I am really pleased to announce that Night High won the BMC Women in Adventure Film Competition - you can watch it below.

Directed, filmed and edited by myself.


My interview excerpt from an article that was published on the BMC website:

''Meeting Sarah at ShAFF in 2016 had a huge impact on my photographic practice; she introduced me to slacklining and shortly after I started documenting the slacklining community and lifestyle. 

When she approached me about making a film together 2 years later, I knew it was going to be something special. 

My background is in photography, and Night High was my first venture into producing, directing and editing. It certainly pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I really enjoyed experimenting and feeling challenged. My strength as a visual artist lies in storytelling, which manifests itself across various genres, from fine art to adventure sports. I look up to Sarah a lot as an athlete, and being able to capture her essence in this film was a great privilege. Her mind and body strength are phenomenal, her perseverance - unparalleled. 

Winning the BMC TV Women in Adventure film competition was a surprise given the number of really strong submissions this year. Film is an avenue I wish to focus on more, and I’m grateful for the confirmation and encouragement that came with this award.''