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Ace Africa – 2014

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2014 started in Africa with three new photo shoots across two countries for ACE Africa.

The first in Bungoma District in Western Kenya on the Ugandan border. Ace Africa’s work has expanded into new areas around Bungoma both geographically and in the resources they provide to local people. Their projects have grown throughout the region, have been truly life changing for many thousands of people and encompass almost every aspect of daily life. Nutrition, healthcare, education, housing, agriculture and, most important of all, the development of genuine self-sufficiency for individuals and groups of needy people removing the entrenched, yet unnecessary, dependency on outside aid.

I have photographed and filmed ACE Africa for nearly 10 years. Almost since its inception. In that time the results of their work have been beyond extraordinary. In the early days almost everyone I photographed died. Now, with combination of ACE Africa’s well considered, ultimately practical assistance and the introduction by governments of free ARVs, most live. And more than that most live normal, productive and healthy lives. The photographs of the projects all tell this story showing positive and empowered people providing for themselves and for others.

The second location for the ACE Africa shoot this year was Siaya. Close to Lake Victoria and deep in more remote Luo country. Poorer, more needy people without a doubt; it feels more like Bungoma in the early days. ACE has only been here a few years and this is my second visit here and it’s clear the work is going in the same direction. But the need is still great. I met many people who are just being ‘found’. People who have struggled on through stigmatisation, sickness, bereavement and under-employment. But all are stories of hope and of lives transformed with an uplifting hand from the remarkable team at ACE Africa.

ACE Africa’s third area of operation took me across Kenya’s southern border into Tanzania. In the shadow of  Mount Meru (Oldonyo Orok) nestles the town of Arusha. The fastest growing urban area in Africa. Not long ago the population in and surrounding this town were nomadic, pastoralist Maasai but over the last few years most have settled permanently changing their ancient way of life to become subsistence farmers now known as the WaArusha (the people of Arusha).  HIV Aids has taken its toll here too and though these people appear superficially stoically independent poverty is rife and the need is great.

These few pictures selected for this series aim to show ordinary people trying to live ordinary lives against a background of great adversity. Lives that are damaged but not completely broken filled with dignity, resourcefulness and hope.

To see a much larger range of my pictures for ACE Africa and to find out more please go to ACE-Africa.org