The air was warm and heavy with rain as we arrived at Maurice Ojaoro’s home in Homa Bay, western Kenya. I was on assignment for RTI International documenting their new agricultural partnerships with small, hard-working farmers on both the eastern and western borders of the country.
Ojaoro’s farm was the the fifth - maybe sixth - visit of the day and, according to my estimate, the 20th or so I had photographed during the weeklong assignment.
The clouds began churning dark waves as Ojaoro gave us a tour of his farm. With a slight limp in his gait, Ojaoro explained he founded the small organization in hopes of supporting other farmers with disabilities. Finding stable employment for the physically vulnerable is nearly impossible in the tiny fishing community, he said.
The former fisherman turned seedling farmer named his project the “Crocodile CBO”, an homage to the reptile that attacked him a decade earlier, disfiguring his right leg and leaving him unable to fish Lake Victoria’s waters again.
With a loud clap of thunder, dozens of Marabou Storks began their descent from the telephone posts and tin rooftops above us. As the rain began falling between the cracks of sun and cloud, I shoved my camera under my t-shirt for temporary protection and began running toward shelter.
“Asante sana!” I yelled to Ojaoro. “Thank you for sharing your story!”
Moments later, a sheet of rain fell on top of me so heavy and dense that it hit my shoulders with a splash, quickly turning dirt roads into mud and leaving grazing cows ankle deep in flood waters in just seconds.
But luckily, I got the shot.
It’s been several week since Ojaoro’s tour and I’ve finally finished culling the 7,000 photos into a few hundred images, which have been edited and polished for RTI International and USAID, their partnering organization.
I’m looking forward to seeing my work shared with the world through these two organizations. But until they go public, here’s a small taste of my week as a photojournalist and rain runner in Kenya.
Looking for an experienced photographer and filmmaker in East Africa? Contact me.