In September, two men, one a resident of Port Allen, will travel to Uganda, Africa for a project that will bring smiles to faces all across the globe.
Last year, Nathan Dewberry, Baton Rouge resident, went on a church volunteer mission to Zimbabwe, Africa to do construction work. Once the work day was finished he would have about an hour left before sundown; being a photographer, he did what photographers do - he used that last hour of sunlight to take pictures.
“I would walk around the dirt roads in a village and people would motion for me to take pictures of them,” Dewberry said. “Then I’d show them the picture on the back of the camera and most would smile and laugh.”
Dewberry said that when he would show the people their pictures they seemed to say, “It’s great when I smile – it’s beautiful,” and he got a lot of satisfaction from that.
“I really wished that I could have given them the pictures,” Dewberry said.
Upon his return to Baton Rouge, he knew that his trip to Africa and the pictures he had taken had inspired him to do more. Thus, Geaux Love Africa was born - a project to travel to villages in Africa, take pictures of villagers, and print the pictures for them right on the spot to give to them.
But Dewberry said that he knew he couldn’t do it alone.
“I wanted to look for someone outside of my friend group,” he said.
A mutual friend put him in touch with Port Allen resident and West Side Journal editor, Aaron Williams.
“We went to lunch and Nathan told me everything about the project,” Williams said. “I thought it was so innovative to use photography and love for people to bring the gospel to Africa.”
Williams said he was on board the first day, and that from that moment, the two kindred spirits were committed to doing this project together.
“I love the idea. I love people. I love photography – and I’ve always wanted to go to Africa,” Williams said.
The two have their first Geaux Love Africa trip scheduled for September 17, when they will go to Bugiri, Uganda and travel to small villages outside of the city.
Instead of just showing the people their pictures on the camera, Dewberry and Williams will be using a battery-powered printer and a camera with a built in WiFi capability.
On the back of the pictures will be placed pre-printed Gospel messages and local church information in their national language.
Dewberry said the duo are working with churches to help ensure that they are viewed as trustworthy, especially in some of the smaller villages; and allows it to become a project for the churches as well.
“The church gets to own the project too,” Dewberry said.
“My hope is to ask the people questions and tell their story and the story of Christ not just through text,” Dewberry said. “But through the pictures actually telling the story.”
The project is being made possible through sponsorships of photos.
For $15, a sponsor will receive a copy of the photo sponsored, as well as any details or stories about the person in the portrait. So far, over 370 photographs have been sponsored – the goal is find sponsors for 650 photos by the time Dewberry and Williams leave for Africa in September.
Saturday, August 2, West Baton Rouge residents had a chance to support the cause when Levee CrossFit of Port Allen teamed up with Geaux Love Africa for a fundraiser to raise money for the project. Participants donated $20 to participate in a 1-mile fun run/walk with obstacles at the Port Allen Levee.
“Aaron has been a part of Levee CrossFit from its inception, so I wanted to support those who support me,” said Levee CrossFit Coach Dain Lewis. “I felt like it would be a great way to further the fitness consciousness within the community.”
Dewberry said that many people don’t even think about the fact that some people have never seen a picture of themselves because it is an every day thing for most with their thousands of Facebook pictures.
He added that we can show pictures to our kids to show happy times in our lives, such as, “This is me at 17; this is me at 11,” and we can show how alike – or unalike – we are.
“To be able to give that to somebody feels right,” Dewberry said. “Capturing a moment is powerful – to be a part of this is important.”
To sponsor a photograph for this September’s Geaux Love Africa trip, visit www.geauxloveafrica.com.