About a year ago we had a young, aspiring photographer come and ask to display his photos in The Grotto. This was our first introduction to Daniel Kooman. Daniel had been, over the years, volunteering in Africa helping raise funds for the multitude of orphans and had compiled a series of photos of these people, their culture and the trauma they have suffered. We found these photos to be quite moving and yet inspiring – so inspiring in fact that we talked to our daughter Jenna, who was working for us here at Union Street, about satisfying her hunger for travel, as well as making it count. So after meeting and talking with Daniel, Jenna decided to join the group of Volunteer Headquarters.
Daniel, along with Save Africa Now founder David Youngren, started Juma’s World. Juma is a boy (now a man) that Daniel had met on one of his first trips to Africa. Orphaned by AIDS, Juma and his friend Haruna were living on the streets with no hope of a meaning full life. With sponsorship from Daniel and his family, Juma and Haruna’s world was transformed. They have grown to be a happy, young men with ambitions and now, hope.
Daniel helped produce The Story, a film about meeting Juma and the start of Juma’s World. It has made a huge difference in so many people’s lives, including Danielle’s and mine, and now Jenna’s.
Jenna has now been in Tanzania for 3 months and will be there for another 3. She has travelled through Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda meeting new people and helping wherever possible. During her stay in Tabora, Tanzania, she met Fauzia. Fauzia is a 15 year old orphan with her baby, Hidaya Omary, living on the streets. Jenna and Fausia immediately had a spiritual connection, holding hands and whispering to eachother even though they didn’t speak the same language. A life changing moment.
Over the years, we had seen and read a lot about the tragedies in third world countries and for “the price of a cup of coffee a day” you could make a difference. It always seemed a no brainer and why not commit to doing something about it? But for some reason, it never seemed happen – we never made it happen. After speaking with Daniel, watching ‘The Story’ and having our daughter so involved, it really seemed to all of a sudden be real. So Danielle and I are intrinsically connected to Juma’s World now. We have decided to sponsor Fauzia and Hidaya with the hopes of giving them a better life. We will plan a trip hopefully in the fall to go there and meet them. I feel that with the connection we have made with Daniel and Juma’s World, it has, and will change our lives. I do know that Jenna is motivated to continue her work and when she returns in the fall, we will be looking at Jenna’s World in a whole new light!