Ben's photos, and Africa

March 4, 2010

Meet Ben Carpenter, who I met by chance both through my coffee addiction, and my love for photography. His gorgeous photos from Uganda are all over our campus coffee shop, you see, along with a little sign with his contact information, and a blip about proceeds supporting AIDS relief in Africa.

That's all it took. 

We were having coffee the next week, and disturbing those more studious folk around us with loud laughter over shared stories from Uganda and Haiti.

Here's a little about him, what he does and what you can do to help:

What are you going to be doing in Africa?
My team is a medical missions team with short-term goals including providing clinical care for any and all members of He Intends Victory (H.I.V.) support groups and their families, evangelism through our medical outreach, and agricultural and domestic aid to support group members. I personally will be helping out with the childcare aspect of the trip; playing with kids, talking to them, making them feel loved in a general way. Also, I am the team photographer, taking photos of our outreaches and the people and place that we visit. I also am a sort of go-to man for the team, doing any and everything the team needs.

Where are you going?
We will be in the countries of Uganda and Kenya. 
How long?
We will be on the ground for almost two weeks.

What do you hope to accomplish?
We have a lot of aims, most of them involving the number of people that we hope to serve. We always aim to top our previous numbers; I think that last year we served over 2300 people in two weeks, so we'll be aiming higher than that. As for me personally, I always hope to give more than I get; I find that when you give all you have, you always have more.Why?
That's simple: God called me to.

Why did you choose the organization you are working with?
I sort of got there by default. My godfather, who is HIV positive, is on the board of H.I.V., and asked my mother to go on a trip, since she has skills as a nurse. She went, and then she wanted me to go with her on my first trip to Africa, so I ended up going with her, and since then I've really enjoyed going with H.I.V.

In a short paragraph, explain the basics of what your organization does/believes/the philosophy behind what they do.
The official mission statement of He Intends Victory is fourfold: To encourage a spiritual awakening within the HIV/AIDS community, and to promote faith in Jesus Christ as a living and personal God; to support churches in outreach opportunities to their HIV/AIDS members, their families and the local community; to educate the Christian community by providing educational packets, examples of church policy and personal testimony of Christians living with HIV/AIDS; and to provide a loving Christian witness and scriptural literature at HIV/AIDS meetings and conferences nationally and internationally.

How can people donate/support your trip?
If they want to pay by check, they can send me a check made out to He Intends Victory, with my name, Ben Carpenter, in the memo line. Cash donations are accepted too, but check is preferred. All donations are tax-deductible, and should be sent to my mailbox: Box 326, 13800 Biola Avenue, La Mirada, CA
. Also, more important than money is prayer. I would be blessed to receive any and all prayer that I can, as would the rest of the team.

When was your first trip?
January of 2008, right in the middle of my senior year of high school. It cause quite an uproar with the priests at my school; none of them wanted me to go.

What made you keep going back?
Also simple: God called me back. I am completely sure that God wanted me to return again and again to Africa.

How many times have you gone since?
I've been a total of 3 times since 2008, and I've fallen more in love every time.

Hardest thing you have experienced?
Ooh, that's a hard one. I remember sitting with a boy while we cleaned out a knife wound in his leg without any real anesthetic, just a shot of local, and he gripped my hand really hard, and I told him that he was doing great, because what else do you say to a kid that's 12 and was stabbed by a soldier of his country's army? And all he said was, "But for me, I am fear." I didn't immediately understand, and he clarified: "For me, I am for fear." I almost cried right there, and I know only God's strength kept me together.

Most incredible experience?
That's impossible to answer. I just love watching the kids and the parents and everything in Africa. Maybe the culture shock? I hate it, but it makes things so clear to me, and I change something every time I come back.

Tell me about your background in photography?
That's a funny way of putting it: "background." I took two classes in high school, and not a thing since. I suppose I have a modicum of talent, but I have my doubts. But people see God in them sometimes, so I keep at it.

How does the photography add to/change your experience?
On the one hand, it's amazing. I love my photos on a level that I can't describe. I get to share in a concrete, nonnegotiable form what I saw and felt and loved. But on the other hand, there's a level of separation that comes with being behind a lens. Consequently, I often feel like I'm not participating in what's happening, so I have to get out from behind the lens sometimes and play some soccer (which I get wrecked at, by the way).

What are your long term goals?
In missiology, there's a term for countries that are unreceptive to missionaries and evangelization: creative-access countries. I really feel called to go to these countries, the places where others wouldn't or couldn't get to. Ultimately, I have a deep conviction for North Korea, and one day I hope to travel there in a semi-long term capacity to evangelize and plant churches.

Contact Ben here to buy his photos for $10 a print, and support his trip to Uganda this summer. 

(all photos his).


Claire said...

The photos are gorgeous!

angela said...

$10???? that's a freakin steal.

Caitlin Joy Ryan said...

I can't even tell you how amazed I am by your work. You truly are an inspiration.

Haddock said...

meaningful photographs