Brighton based photographer Chris Dade had travelled around the world looking for a community, but it was after reaching Kenya that he finally found what he was looking for.
For many years Chris worked in East Sussex as an advocate helping children who had run away from home, and others in care, to have their voices heard in order to change their lives.
Following the closure of the project several years ago, he left the country disillusioned and in search of new community to support.
“The NHS had produced a paper describing a loneliness epidemic in the UK which I recognised, so I decided to leave the UK in search of a new way of living,” Chris explained.
Returning back to his career as a photographer he documented his journey which included living with rain forest community in Brazil, an ashram in India, a Masai Tribe in Africa and in Buddhist temples in the Himalayas.
However, after meeting charity workers Lesley and Roger Dan at a training event, he was invited out to East Africa to see the work of their charity, Harambee for Kenya.
The charity run two homes in Kisii and Meru and Chris found a great community feel. Not only did the boys all help each other, he was impressed with how polite and well educated they were which, proved that these street children are much more than how society sees them.
Despite simply volunteering to take pictures and make a film for the charity, he ended up staying for six weeks.
He now visits regularly and has agreed to become a volunteer director of the charity, which means he is now legally responsible for 74 children. He said “It was a bit of a shock going from having no children to 74,” Chris said.
As well as becoming a regular visitor, he also promotes the charity and helps to find sponsors to help more of the boys off the streets.
Now, as part of this remit, he is running a photography exhibition as part of the Brighton Photo Fringe which takes place between the 5th and 11th November at St Augustine’s Centre in Brighton.
The exhibition is a platform for the voices of the often invisible street children around the world who are ever-increasing in numbers. It is a unique account of their lives using the award winning photographer’s images as well as words and pictures created by the street children during workshops he has organised.
In the exhibition, the boys talk of life on the streets, and what help they need to leave the streets as none of them chose to be there. They also talk about the need for Umoja (unity) as they have such a strong brotherhood there, it’s the main thing that helps them leave behind their glue addiction.
All of the profits from the exhibition will go to support to Harambee for Kenya.
Chris has also published a book to raise money for the charity which is available here.
The charity are always looking for new people to sponsor the boys’ education and the costs of caring for them. They all write to their sponsors and are so grateful to have someone that cares enough to support them.