The Woman Behind “Caring for the Children of Africa”

Originally posted on VICDA:
Annie Annie Copley of Adelaide, Australia first journeyed to Kenya as a GVN volunteer in 2006. Little did she know, the three months spent counseling HIV/AIDS patients in Nairobi’s slum areas would completely change the direction…

Christmas Dinner for families at Manjani Mingi

Most of you who either know me personally or who have read this blog for a while know about my connection with Kenya. Seven years ago I left my marketing job, packed my bags and journeyed to Nairobi where I … Continue reading

March 22nd is World Water Day!

Today is, once again, World Water Day!

Jenn Winter

Today, March 22nd, is World Water Day.  So, pause for a moment and raise a glass of nice, clean water and appreciate it.

It’s something I don’t think about that much while I’m home.  It’s just there.  In a pink Britta filter in my fridge, flowing freely from faucets in my kitchen and bathroom.  It flushes my toilet, rains down on me in the shower, cleans my dirty dishes and clothes, waters my plants and fills my dog’s water bowl.  On a chilly spring day like today, it falls from the sky, slowly turning the grass green and bringing the trees back to life after a long, cold winter.  In a few months, it will be a source of entertainment as we retreat to beautiful Lake Michigan for swimming, sailing, waterskiing… In short, Chicago is pretty blessed when it comes to this seemingly unlimited resource.

But, when I travel, water…

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A Small Act

A few months back, my Aunt Jan told me about this documentary and I put it in my Netflix queue.  Since then, I’d forgotten about it until it arrived last week.  A Small Act tells the true story of a Kenyan man named Chris and the woman in Sweden, Hilde, who sponsored his education through a sponsorship program.  As a result of Hilde’s small act many years ago, Chris decides to start a sponsorship program in her name to assist other bright children from needy families.  The film is beautifully shot and the stories of Kimani, Ruth and Caroline, three hopeful students vying for the scholarship, is told against the backdrop of the election violence that took place in Kenya in 2007 and 2008.


In so many ways Chris’ story reminds me of my dear friend, Irene Wairimu.  Like Chris, Irene came from a needy family in the same area and relied upon well wishers and sponsors to pay for her education through high school.  Like Chris, Irene has taken this one step further and has dedicated her life to helping needy Kenyans through VICDA.  Time and time again, Irene has told me, “Jenni, education is the only way to break the cycle of poverty in these villages.  Without education no one can move forward and the desperation continues.”  When she first moved to Nairobi and worked as a house girl Irene would set aside a portion of her very small income and sponsor the education of her siblings and members of her community in Central Provence.  As Hilde points out in the film, she didn’t have much but it just felt normal to donate what she had to a child.

I highly recommend this film to anyone who is or ever has sponsored a child.  Education is so important, especially in developing countries, and sponsoring a child really is a small act that can have an enormous influence on their life.  If you are looking for a child to sponsor, I recommend checking out VICDA’s Child Sponsorship page.

[25] Image of the Week

“Acacia at Sunset”

What with my story being featured on Bucket List Publications and my revamping of the VICDA website, I’ve been missing Kenya a lot lately.  This photograph was taken during my first trip to Kenya in 2006.  I was on safari at Amboseli National Park and became obsessed with this gorgeous acacia tree that was at our campsite.  I have dozens of photographs of this tree, taken from different angles and at different times of day.  This was taken with my trusty old Nikon D50 which I sold last week for a mere $100.  It was hard to let that camera go, it was my trusty sidekick on that first trip and was the camera that helped me to become the photographer that I am today.  But it had been gathering dust on my shelf for several years and I saw no reason, other than sentimentality, to keep it.  I hope that its next owner will find it as inspiring as I did.

Bucket List Publications

To all of my new readers who have found me by way of my post of Bucket List Publications – Welcome!  Thank you for liking my story enough to stop by and I hope that you will follow my blog and stop by again.  If you would like to learn more about VICDA, the NGO that I work with in Kenya, I encourage you to visit their website.  Irene serves not only as a character in many of my travel stories but she is also a dear friend who continues to inspire me with her work and devotion to her fellow Kenyans.

To all my old readers, I have exciting news!  One of my favorite stories from my trip back to Kenya last year was published on Bucket List Productions, an online travel magazine started by adventurist and traveler, Lesley Carter.  I’m flattered that Lesley liked my story about distributing shoes to the Dust Babies enough to publish and encouraged by the positive comments from her many readers.  I encourage you to check out Lesley’s site!

I leave you with a warm Dust Baby smile to warm your heart on this chilly Sunday.

(c) Jenn Winter, 2009

Taking Better Travel Photos

I’ve admired Jim Richardson‘s images for many years and even had the opportunity to hear him speak a few years ago as part of the National Geographic Live series in Chicago.  Sometimes the difference between a good photo and an amazing photo is perspective.  Shooting only from eye level won’t yield the same shot taken from the ground or above.  This is the focus (pun!) of Jim’s most recent photo tip featured on the National Geographic website.

The above image was taken at a food distribution on Maasailand several years ago.  I sat on the ground and sneaked photos as the Maasai women walked to join the distribution line, creating a much more dramatic effect than had the shot been taken at eye level.  The red clothing against the blue sky adds to the beauty and majesty of this woman without the distraction of the hundreds of other people, goats, food trucks and manyattas that surrounded us.

Prints of this image (and most of my travel photos) are for sale.  Please contact me at if you are interested in purchasing.

28 Reasons I Loved 28!

My 28th year has come to and end, and what a year it was!  It started in my second country, Kenya, with Irene, Faith and David visiting the members of Giwa IDP Camp, going on a mini-safari and giving out shoes to the Dust Babies of Kikopey.  At 28 I became an Aunt and helped to welcome my lovely niece, Chloe, to the crazy Winter family.  I got to share in the joy of the nuptials of three fantastic friends and the engagements of three more.  I was able to hike to Machu Picchu in Peru with five incredible women and then journey to Patagonia with one of my favorite traveling buddies.  Essie and I were the same age this past year – she’s 4 which translates to 28 in dog years – and we found many opportunities to go on fun hikes and city explorations, not to mention a few naps.  I crossed several things off the “list” this year, including becoming a published author and covering Lollapalooza with a press pass.  My business really took off at 28, and I’m so thankful for the wonderful clients I have been able to work with as well as the new and challenging jobs my camera and I have undertaken.

In short, it was a fantastic year and I feel truly blessed.  I’m excited for 29 and what lies ahead!

Below are 28 reasons I loved 28 (click on the image to enlarge):

And, to end this post, I’ve pasted a poem that my mom sent me at midnight:

roses are red

violets are blue
starting this day
singing to you

29 you are
21 you appear
not looking legal
to drink even beer

you rock your biz
flash’n great pics
 blessed you are
with essie’s love licks

jenn you rock 
this bday and more
love you LOTS
with hugs galore