Waiting for the Tea Leaves to Settle

Frank broke the news late last week—training would be suspended until after the elections. Kibera has a way of becoming a hot spot during election season and a mere presence in the slum can become political. So practice will resume sometime after March 4th.

The Tumaini Sports Initiative’s training has been challenged this year like no other. Resources are scarce; the weather refuses to cooperate; getting nutrition supplements to the students has become difficult due to limited funding and support. A stop watch and training equipment are hard to come by. And now politics are yet another disruption. But the athletes persevere, many of them training on their own when official training is suspended, in hopes of competing in the World Youth Athletic Trials in June.

The global running community is anxiously awaiting the results of Kenya’s election. Ever since the country erupted with violence in 2007, elections are treated with a certain amount of caution. Hotel reservations in the Rift Valley, the famed region where many of the world’s elite complete their high-altitude training, have yet to be confirmed. Running clubs are sending out bulletins on elections and safety. Indeed, our team has had to postpone planning until the elections are over.

Everyone is waiting for the tea leaves to settle.

Following the election, we will finalize plans for our filming schedule this spring. Until then, we’ll hope that peace and democracy prevail, and that we’re back to running soon.

Happy 2013

As we head into 2013 at a full sprint, I find myself searching for time to reflect on what we’ve been able to accomplish this past year, with the help of our tremendous Tumaini Film Project supporters. We produced our first promotional video; we led our first crowd-funding campaign; we worked with runners across the globe to generate support and momentum behind the story by running 150 miles in 30 days; we formed relationships with journalists, elite coaches, and world champion athletes from L.A. to Nairobi. There have been challenges, too. We planned to film at the Olympics and then had to change course when some of the runners we were planning to follow failed—controversially—to qualify for the Kenyan team. The truth is, like many artists involved with independent projects and full-time jobs, time is my most limited resource, and sometimes I fail to share our progress and successes as a result. I become too concerned with the doing and less concerned with the sharing. Hence, one of my New Year’s resolutions: blog more frequently.

This is going to be a big year for the Tumaini Film Project. Our team rang in the New Year with a directors meeting in Philadelphia. After years of research, relationship building, fundraising, and outreach, we plan to head to Kenya this spring to film a large portion of our documentary. There have been as many challenges on the ground with the running program as we’ve had with production; the rainy season delayed the season and training for months; failure to cut the grass in the field where the students run means the weeds are waist-high; and the many scourges of poverty follow many of the students whether they’re running or not. Though difficult to plan around, I know these challenges are what make this story so important; because Frank and his students are doing something incredible despite all odds.

Thank you to everyone who has helped us get this far—we couldn’t do it without you.

The Beginning of the End of AIDS

Today the global AIDS pandemic is at a tipping point. Due to improved access to medicine, better care, lower costs, and smart interventions, for the first time since AIDS was discovered thirty years ago we have an opportunity to outpace the disease. I am inspired by the governments, NGOs, activists, businesses, and individuals across the globe who have made a commitment to live in a world where we will see the end of AIDS.

One-fifth of the people living in Kibera are HIV positive. More than 50,000 children in the slum have been orphaned by AIDS, many of whom are the athletes Frank trains every day.  On this World AIDS Day, we celebrate our success, commemorate those we’ve lost, and pledge to continue the fight.

Go here to read more about the beginning of the end of AIDS.