What is SIM Stories?

A long time ago now I felt compelled to make a change from working in the UK photo-editorial world and make use of my skills to tell stories that I hope will make a positive difference in people’s lives. I do that with SIM.

I mainly shoot videos, photos and write stories for SIM in East Africa. SIM is a Christian not-for-profit based all over the world. It’s heartbeat is for people to be reached with the gospel and that looks different in every context.

SIM has life-changing projects in all key development areas; education, healthcare, agriculture and so on. Sometimes ministries are outright evangelism.

It is my privilege as a story teller to serve these guys doing the work. I visit the people and active projects, see lives being changed, and work out how to tell these stories.

SIM folks are servant-hearted, giving up the familiarity of their home context to become immersed in foreign cultures, all with the heart to serve the people where they go.

As an organisation, SIM works alongside the existing local church. It doesn’t move from country to country, sticking its flag in the ground. I massively respect that. As such, my job as a communicator is quite hard. Banging the drum for an organisation that has in the past consciously chosen not to bang its own drum.

But these are stories that need to be told.

Appolinarie, a mother of two and Rwandan refugee based in Nairobi, meditates in the smoke of burning paper - paper that had her traumas and unforgiveness listed. It’s a key time of personal freedom found during the trauma healing course run by SIM in Nairobi.

Appolinarie, a mother of two and Rwandan refugee based in Nairobi, meditates in the smoke of burning paper - paper that had her traumas and unforgiveness listed. It’s a key time of personal freedom found during the trauma healing course run by SIM in Nairobi.

Joseph, a former child soldier from South Sudan who now teaches the bible in refugee camps in Kenya.

Appolinarie, a refugee in Kenya from Ruanda who leads trauma healing workshops for French-speaking refugees in Nairobi, having received the same help herself.

Families affected by disability in Kenya, who have received the love, personal healing and support needed to have a chance of moving on in life.

The schools in South Sudan conflict zones that keep getting destroyed, but pick themselves back up again. And again. And again.

The. Stories. Go. On. And. On.

These are the stories that I have been able to share from East Africa. And what of sharing them? It is my firm conviction that the stories - be it image or text - should challenge perceptions and compel people to act.

It is my greatest satisfaction to know that I story I have created could call the global church into action; to pray, to advocate, to join, to give financially.

That is what SIM Stories is. And that is what motivates me.

So please, check existing stories and if one affects you, please act. People’s lives depend on it.

Ethiopia photo essay

At the end of 2018 I had my first real visit to Ethiopia, traveling to three areas in the northern region; Mekelle, Bahir Dar and Injibara.

I’ve come back with a large workload and the video edits of three different projects will take some time. In the meantime, here are a collection of (unedited) pictures, which are still images taken from the video files.

Being with people that lived in-country and spoke the language did open doors to get a glimpse of every day life in each region I visited. But being a tourist is OK too.

We visited family homes, saw coffee and injera being made (and enjoyed the end results!), got a real look into the Orthodox church, agricultural practices and started to get a picture of the people through their own eyes. Attending a funeral in Injibara was truly memorable - the Awi people have such intriguing tradition at such a time.

Right now I am in the hard slog phase of video editing and I would love to be out shooting again. But, I believe the videos will be something that offers insight to what is a wonderful, communal culture.

SIM Stories: Banda Go

In Nairobi, SIM has a growing ‘Banda Health’ team whose main activity is continually developing a low-cost, low-fuss software solution for small clinics, called Banda Go.

I joined the team last year on a visit to one of the first adopters of the software, Ebenezer Medical Care clinic. I’m no medic, but it didn’t take too long for me to get a picture of what is possible with Banda Go.

This solution really can transform the efficiency of small clinics who deliver healthcare to low-resource communities. It’s a vital work. Do check out the Banda Health website and support in whichever way you can.

Since this visit, the software has made a home in numerous clinics across Kenya and is expanding internationally. Exciting times.

SIM Stories: I Can Breathe Again

I get to meet amazing people in East Africa, hear their stories and work out how to try and do those stories justice in written, photo or video form.

And what a privilege it was to meet Appolinarie last year - she is an inspiration. A mother of two, Appolinarie resides in Nairobi, having fled her home country of Ruanda, during the genocide more than 20 years ago.

SIM Kenya does a great work through trauma healing and there are many refugees in Nairobi alone that have received or are in need of trauma healing. Appolinarie was one such person.

Having received healing from her traumatic experiences - a moment she describes as ‘I could breathe again’ - she now helps other French-speaking refugees in Nairobi to deal with their trauma, through trauma healing groups.

Appolinarie, as a young pregnant lady, witnessed and experienced trauma that no one should have to. Yet, I have come to appreciate that there is no trauma too big for God to heal.

Check out the video via the link below and feel free to share - some stories like this one need to be heard.

Update: Back in Kenya

Long hiatus, hey?

Between my last blog post - a review of the excellent DxO PhotoLab software - and now, I returned to Kenya with the family.

With the change in circumstances, so to comes a change in the tone and content of what I will blog about. (I do other stuff now. Plus, it’s a bit harder to get the latest kit for review here in East Africa!)

I have re-transitioned (that’s officially a word) from UK photo press to image maker and storyteller for the faith-based charity SIM. It was time again to put the kit to good use!

There’s lots to catch up on from six months in East Africa. I’ve traveled some, and worked on a few fresh stories for SIM. (Plus all the usual image making outside of work.)

SIM Stories, developing that eye and technique for video, pictures of places and people - look out for new blog posts about it all from this point forward!

New kit for the Kenya return: GH5 camera, M4T to NIkon manual lens adaptor, 20mm f/1.8 lens

New kit for the Kenya return: GH5 camera, M4T to NIkon manual lens adaptor, 20mm f/1.8 lens

Kit update

For those interested in the kit, the new videos I will share with you have been shot using the Panasonic Lumix GH5 - a camera that I picked up a few days before flying to Kenya.

In East Africa I make more videos than I do photos. The Nikon D800 isn’t quite geared for that. Put the GH5 and D800 in the kit bag together and that’s both covered, with each camera having a set purpose - happy days.

Having delayed for so long because strictly speaking I didn’t ‘need’ it, I finally took the plunge on a full-frame wide-angle lens for all those luscious landscapes I shoot with the D800. I no longer use the 12-24mm f/4 crop-format (DX) lens for landscape photography on that full-frame body, but a shiny new 20mm f/1.8 G (FX) lens. This lens ticked all the boxes for me: focal length, price, size, filter thread, maximum aperture.

Lastly, I also purchased a micro-four-thirds to Nikon manual lens adaptor, in order to access all the Nikon glass I have for use with the GH5.

What has been a pleasant surprise is just how great a pairing the GH5 and 20mm f/1.8 lens is for video. With a 2x crop factor, that’s a 40mm f/1.8 lens that is very sharp and offers great control over depth of field, albeit without stabilisation or AF.

I’ve had a little fun with the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens on the GH5 via the adaptor too - that’s a 400mm equivalent maximum reach.

The only new glass I need to consider in the future for the GH5 is that which would give me AF and stabilisation. The just announced Panasonic 10-25mm f/1.7 lens certainly has caught the eye and has jumped to the top of the wishlist.

All in all, I feel smug about how significantly I’ve improved the kit bag for video and for landscape photography, with what was a relatively modest outlay.