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Positive Exposure in Kenya

March 10, 2010

Hey All: Blogging from Doha, Qatar. Arrived on Monday night after spending  2 great but crazy weeks shooting in Kenya.

The trip began as a mission of empowerment to fortify our friends living with albinism bordering Tanzania. Fear that the witchdoctors under scrutiny by the international press  and government pressure will send their henchmen across the borders to areas where the local press isn’t interested in a potential threat against humanity and people with albinism, although always discriminated against in Kenya might let their guard down and walk freely in public without fear of being murdered for their body parts. It’s a nightmare. Positive Exposure has partnered with several international and local organizations in Kenya to create public awareness programs, educational workshops and community outreach initiatives to empower people with albinism in Kenya, their families and friends. Our mission is to change public perceptions of difference  and prevent the genocide caused by fear and  ignorance from spreading  to neighboring Tanzanian countries like Kenya, Uganda and Burundi. Our goal is to create a  portable and sustainable  prototype that will be launched in Kenya then travel throughout Africa protecting our brothers and sisters living with physical or behavioral differences.

I traveled to several regions with a most remarkable film crew from Kartemquin Films,  shooting the PE documentary. Director Producer, Joanna Rudnick, Camerawoman Dana Kupper and Sound engineer, John Mathie, together in partnership with ICEVI’s Bernard Mogesa and  the beautiful and inspiring  Jayne Waithera, we covered lots of territory, from Nairobi to Embu, Nyeri and Meru. (as a side note, I met Jayne in Kerala, India in 2009  when I visited the International Institute for Social Entrepreneurship following a trip with the Under the Same Sun Team to Tanzania.. Jayne was a participant at the Institute)

Our list of activities included a Television interview, a rally at Jimhuri Park for people with disabilities, visits to St Lucy’s School for the Blind, in Meru, Kilimani Primary School, Kibera School for Girls, an outdoor and very public exhibition at the Kenya National Theater, a visit to Jayne Grand and Great grand mothers in Nyeri as well as a visit to a garden community initiative designed for and by people living  with albinism in Embu. We met with ASK members as well as the Founder of AFEA, the lovely powerhouse Mumbi, visited clinics and attended a workshops for families caring for a child with this condition. A groundbreaking activity was the formation of Positive Exposure Kenya with Jayne at the helm. Plans to travel into the rural areas  where ignorance is rampant are in development. PE Kenya has also recruited a youth board to create innovative programs to change public The  youth board will be driving the programs, lectures, exhibitions and presentations and there is some stirring about creating a dedicated FM radio station for people living with difference  So EXCITING…  I topped off the trip with a 2 day safari in the Masai Mara. UNBELIEVALBE. I saw lions and giraffes and cheetahs and elephants… It was incredible and invigourating. Im now ready for the next leg of this 1 month journey.

Im currently here in Qatar to collaborate with medical students at Weill Medical School –Qatar, to develop self esteem and self advocacy programs for people living with physical or behavioral differences in the middle east. Nature genetics will be joining us on a trip to Oman to work with the genetics community there as well to spread the message: CELEBRATE YOUR DIFFERENCE I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, check out some production pics from Kenya..

The beautiful Jayne Waithera

Jayne and Documentary Director Joanna Rudnick meeting for the first time.

xo Rick

Positive Exposure's Youth Board, Kenya

John at Kilimani Primary School, Nairobi

Lavenda and her mom at Kilimani Primary School, Nairobi

Positive Exposure's outdoor exhibition at the Kenya National TheaterAnn, youth board.

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John, youth board.

Beautiful Josephine, Albinism Foundation of East Africa!

Rally for People with DIsabilities,Jimhuri Park, Nairobi

Jimhuri Park Rally.

Parents Day, St. Andrews, Nairobi.

Parents Day, St. Andrews, Nairobi.

Jayne speaking with parents of kids with albinism. Parents Day, St. Andrews, Nairobi.

In Kibera, heading to the amazing Kibera School for Girls. American Friends of Kenya

Students at the Kibera School for Girls.

Jayne with her photo from India at exhibition

Sisters at the outdoor exhibition.

At the exhibition...

Visiting Jayne's family in Nyeri. This is Jayne's Great Grandmother..

Jayne's classroom at her primary school.

Students at St. Kucy's School for the Blind in Meru.

St. Lucy's in Meru

St. Lucy's in Meru

St. Lucy's in Meru

St. Lucy's in Meru

St. Lucy's in Meru

St. Lucy's in Meru

Crossing the equator with film crew!

Our producer/director Joanna in Nyeri!

Jimhuri Park Rally and PE exhibition.

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Vote for Rare Diseases on Change.org

March 9, 2010

A message passed on from Genetic Alliance:

Vote for Rare Diseases on Change.org

We need the 25+ million to step up, and we need to step up for those who cannot vote – so please take a moment to vote on Change.org

We have slipped to 6th place, and if we are not in the top 10, we will not receive the considerable resources that Change.org is offering.

Let’s build systems to help all of us, to share common infrastructure, and to make the world a better place for our loved ones. Vote now. Share this now – only three days remaining!

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Conference in Rome

February 8, 2010

The lecture was very well received this morning. So many potential collaborations and invitations to present at other Italian and European Genetics conferences. Thank you Francesca Forzano for inviting me to Rome. Francesca and I met at the Conference for the Society for Behavioral Phenotypes and Positive Exposure exhibition opening in Cambridge, UK. She is awesome! Here are a few more pics from Rome.

Me at Il Gesu, An amazing church The Pantheon, a section
The Pantheon, a section
Colosseum
Top L: Me in Il Gesu, an amazing church

Top R: The Pantheon

Middle: The Pantheon, a section

Bottom: Colosseum


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PE in Italy

February 6, 2010

So excited to be blogging from Rome. Im here to speak at a conference: National Italian Clinical Geneticists Conference (what a long name!) – which will be held in Policlinico Gemelli, Catholic University of Rome, on February 8 and 9. Before arriving here today, I travelled to Venice, Milano and Florence, just to have a look. Italy is so so beautiful. Here are a few images from Venice, a city that truly emulates the mission of Positive Exposure by celebrating the extraordinary beauty of uniqueness. BRAVA!!!!!!!!

So Beautiful!

Streets of Venice
San Giorgio
Streets of Venice San Giorgio
La Salute Streets of Venice
La Salute
Streets of Venice
Such Colors
Piazza San Marco from a Taxi
Such colors Piazza San Marco from a Taxi
La Scala, Milano
Ceiling of the galleria in Milano (L)

La Scala, Milano (top)

Ponte Vecchio in Florence (lower L)

The Arno (Lower R)

Ponte Vecchio in Florence The Arno
Aaah, Roma!
St. Peter’s in Rome
Aaaah, Roma!

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Viewfinder Newsletter Holiday Edition

December 19, 2009

See the holiday version of the Viewfinder newsletter with a collage of faces from 2009.

Positive Exposure is pleased to announce that Kartemquin films has secured a grant for our joint trip to East Africa next year. We’re looking forward to encountering the beauty and dignity of people living with albinism in the region.

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Interview

December 12, 2009

Shot of NOAH’s president, Mike McGowan, being interviewed for Voice of
America, in DC!

Originally uploaded by Positive Exposure

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Tanzania Update – New Incident

December 1, 2009

Positive Exposure has published periodic updates about the attacks on people with albinism in Tanzania. Things seemed to be getting better in recent months with the sentencing of some of the killers and a halt in reported incidents. Now we are sorry to report that Reuters has reported the death of a ten year old boy, attacked in front of his family.

“The family had previously tried to have their boy registered at a school where many albinos shelter but he was refused entry because it was full. His murder at the end of October marked an end of a three-month lull in the killings.

“When he was born I thought what kind of child is this, but then he turned out to be fine and happy,” said [mother] Mwakami Kilijiwa…”

Read the rest of the article here, though beware that it is shocking.

See NOAH’s Stop Albino Slaughter site for advocacy tools that can help raise awareness about these tragedies.