Into Africa: A Young Man's Reflections
As Americans, we are often desensitized to the world around us. We take in the
media, we feel badly sometimes about what we see, but there is often a lack of
caring about situations outside of our own.
The average American –– in all of our comfort –– does not want to believe that there are
actually people in the world who cannot find a sustainable amount of food to survive, or that
there are children who cannot afford to pay ten dollars per year for tuition.
Armed with only his Nikon slung over his shoulder, Rob Kulisek set off solo to South
Africa this summer to document the reality there for readers of the Sun. “Ever since I
visited Kenya and Tanzania on a school adventure in 2005, I’ve wanted to return,” he says.“and after reading Zack Morey’s article in the most recent Memorial Day issue of the Sun,
I started planning the trip. I wanted to go and see for myself and bring back some evidence
of reality to inspire HOPE and ACTION.”
What Rob found was an island of joy in a land of misery. He spent a great deal of time at
an orphanage with children who have lost their parents in the AIDS epidemic. The resultant
photos are worthy of Robert Capa or other great photojournalists. Out of 77 children in
the orphanage, 37 of them were HIV positive, infected through their parents. But all of
these kids were happy, he feels. “It was actually kind of strange,” he says. “I mean, I looked
at these kids –– shirts torn, holey shoes, just squalid –– and wondered what they had to be
happy about. I later found out that what makes them happy is their amazing faith in Jesus
Christ. He gives them hope, along with knowing there are people out there who really care.”
“This stuff we see in the news is real. It’s not some overly dramatized problem,”
Rob goes on. “Everyone looks, but not everyone sees. Some hear, but don’t listen. It’s up to
us to make a difference, because the African people can’t do it on their own.”
Some people do care, though. Africa is in a better situation today because of campaigns
by some of today’s biggest celebrities like Bono and Oprah, as well as a large number
of small non-profit organizations sending aid to the most desperate parts of Africa.
Yet Rob says that other people ask him about situations here like in North Philadelphia
and Camden, and our obligations to these citizens. He agrees that help is needed in such
grim surroundings, but still feels that the reality in Africa is worse.
“America’s welfare system is an African’s idea of a good life,” Rob Kulisek points out. “Believe me, I had the chance to talk one-on-one with many victims of poverty in Africa
and, for them, the opportunity to receive food stamps alone would be a treasure, not to
mention shelters and food pantries.”
The situation in Africa is real and people there are still suffering, yet “it only costs a few
dollars for an AIDS patient to receive his or her medicine and it costs less to feed them for
a day,” Rob emphasizes.
Your donation, small or large, sent to any organization will help. It’s up to us to make a
For a more in-depth explanation, read Zack Morey’s article “Why Africa” in Vol. 4 No.
3 of the Sun if you are still struggling with understanding the crisis there. If you would like
a copy, please contact The Sun by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|“One of my main projects in South Africa was taking the
portraits of all 473 students at St. Leo’s Primary school
in eMolweni. Most of the students have never had a picture
of themselves. Once I was finished taking the portraits,
each child received a photo to call their own. ”
Above right is Sondila, a 6th grader who is HIV+
This is Spunello. He is a 4 year-old child at the orphanage. He was given AIDS by his
Mother, who died last year. Not only does Spu continue to have hope, but he gives hope
to everyone who meets him.
This is me holding Spunello. He has to be carried everywhere because he is too weak
This photo really captures the essence of my experiences in Africa.
The people at this
church service were so on fire for life.
At this particular church, the members leave a section open in memory of those who
have died from AIDS. It’s quite sad.
No photos were allowed inside the Aids Hospice, however, I feel this photo captures
Here is a typical Zulu house. It was made out of mud and twigs.