Featured in the November 2012 issue of the Fine Living Lancaster magazine. View in the PDF version of the issue here. You can find the article on page 142.
Written and photographed by Jordan Bush of Jordan Bush Photography.
Take a stroll through Lancaster Central Market on a Saturday morning. Weave through the communal hustle and bustle and you will find far more than fresh, aromatic foods, where Rafiki’s Deli is among the many stands offering one-of-a-kind delights.
Not only will you find authentic African dishes full of color and flavor, but you will be greeted with the same hospitality that, through this very market, offers refuge to the AIDS-ravaged community in Alendu, Kenya.
The beautiful remote village of Alendu rests just south of the equator, not far from Lake Victoria, and is the birthplace of Dorothy Dulo, who with her husband Roger Godfrey, are the founders of Rafiki’s Deli as well as Rafiki Africa Foundation. In 1996, during a visit home from school in the United States, Dorothy returned to find 13 children living with her parents. Orphaned by AIDS, they had no place to find refuge. These children were no exception to the rule, as the entire Nyanza Province has been decimated by AIDS, losing nearly an entire generation to the disease. Consequently, this has led to greater preventable disparities, reciprocating poverty, illness, HIV, malaria… the list is seemingly endless. It was then that Dorothy started on this journey; it was then that Alendu started to find hope.
The community may not know what they need, but they know deep hurt. Rafiki’s approach is to start with that and work with the community to identify their needs, providing training, equipping, and supporting both individuals and families.
Rafiki’s goal is to achieve optimum health: the capacity of individuals, families and community working together to transform conditions that promote sustainable spiritual, emotional, physical, social, environmental, and economic well-being. While it may seem unfathomable, the dismal collision of cultural tradition and oppression make it difficult for the community to discern even the causes of transmitting HIV/AIDS. Through the loss of so many, there has been a breakdown in passing on education, technical training, and life skills.
LightHouse Academy is a school founded exclusively for children who have been orphaned, abandoned, and would otherwise not have the hope of an educated future.
Their teachers are immensely invested in their students, to the point that they will often cover student fees independently. In a country where resources are limited, Dorothy had established the anti-private school. Rafiki provides medical care to the students and, as resources permit, to the surrounding community at a small fee — a means to instill ownership. This is often met with great animosity, as the “Missionary Model” of free services has replaced independence with entitlement through generations of fruitless handouts. The development of Rafiki’s farm provides some of the daily food needed for breakfast and lunch for their students, often the only consistent meal in their lives. The following stories from Alendu intimately reveal hope that Rafiki has bestowed upon the community.