Monday, 4 April 2016

Roger Lever - An African Experience

Charity challenge events can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. This is as it was for me when I embarked on "The Trail of the Massai” in Tanzania’s Rift Valley for the charity Action Aid 10 years ago.

Meeting new people from all over the UK was in itself rewarding. We shared tents with people we had never met before and formed new friendships that would never have happened otherwise.

We were introduced to the work of the charity and visited some of the Action Aid projects that were ongoing in that part of Africa. In a township on the outskirts of Nairobi we were shown round an 'Aids Drop in Centre' where people, mostly women and children would call in for counselling and help.

Sitting with them, speaking to them and seeing the faces of people living under such great hardship has created an everlasting impression in my mind that will never be erased.

We visited another centre where we were greeted by some 50 or 60 children singing, dancing and playing. They were all Aids orphans. This was an absolutely surreal experience and tears were never far away throughout that visit. Our cameras were a fascination for those children who constantly wanted us to take photographs of them and then check themselves out on the image at the back of the camera.

A sideways glance however revealed others that were not joining in and suddenly you realised the despair and sadness of it all. There were many small shacks built with corrugated iron and plastic sheeting, some of which house adults, often men who were in the advancing stages of Aids. Although we were introduced to some of them I felt helpless and to even consider raising my camera in such a situation was impossible for me. In the media we see so many journalistic photographs of people suffering, I didn’t need to take another one.

Next day, with all this in our minds we were taken out into the bush where we met up with our guides for the trek. Three young Maasai warriors were going to escort us on foot through the bush and savannah in temperatures up
to 40 degrees. They were called Harry, Albert and Andrew !!! Their Massai names were obviously very different.

The next few days were unforgettable, seeing wildlife, visiting Massai encampments and meeting the people themselves, talking to them in baby language, dancing with them and of course photographing them.

Here is a link to an article I wrote for Travelmag.

Roger Lever

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