There are probably few of our regular followers that have missed Don Wilson’s photographs and films over the last months. Don has made a fantastic journey that began by him starting a blog after he graduated high school in November 2014. But Don´s journey to a brighter future started well before that. Below is Don´s story told by Monica Adhiambo, the mother of Wale Wale Kenya.
Don came to what was then Wayo Wayo many years ago. I remember a thin, tall boy in too short pants standing quietly in a corner watching the others dance. From what I remember it took him a long time to dare take his first dance steps. Once started, Don started to join the dance classes regularly and trained with focus. But Don showed other qualities that were not related to dance. I saw a certain drive in him and sense of responsibility. He was among the older in the group, yet in his early teenage, and started to take responsibility outside the dance practice. All of a sudden he could knock on my door asking for the keys to go and clean the facilities. He started remaining with me after closing, helping me put things together and lock the place.
Once Wayo Wayo transformed into a proper youth center in 2012 Don took (without anyone asking) responsibility to cook for 30 youths every Saturday. Although he had grown into a valuable and important member of the center, he still had many challenges to face. His situation at home was tough and relations with his family troublesome. During this time we had many talks and, since I have gone through similar things, I really felt his struggles. We talked and I tried to support him by being there, listening and encouraging him to keep it up – and he did. Despite the challenges he gave his all to make the center a better place for everyone.
High school fees were a problem for Don and other members. We could find him at the center during weekdays, and being asked why he was not in school he would reply “School Fees”. Through our school fee program we managed to cover his school fees and Don graduated high school in November 2014. In 2015, when he had been running his blog for about six months, an old Wale Wale friend with an interest in photography and film started a fundraising for Don to get a chance to develop his talent. In the beginning of this year he started a 3-months course in photography at Africa Digital Media Institute.
Last week, Don graduated the course with excellent remarks from the school. And thanks to Don´s hard work and passion the school offered him a scholarship for a 2-years education program in media production.
I often say that I want Wale Wale Kenya to be a “stepping stone” for the youth into their lives. We can help them to find their way, but we cannot walk it for them. It is not about helping people, our youth are among the strongest and most capable people I have met. It is about providing them with opportunities and perhaps a little push in the right direction. Don is a wonderful example of a young person in Kibera with talent, passion and drive, to whom we, through fairly small means, have given a push on the way to a bright future. I am very proud of him!