With the horror of the attack on people at Nairobi, Kenya’s Westgate Mall on Saturday, I was relieved to learn that Food Not Bombs activist and IndyMedia photographer Douglas Rori was not hurt. But when we called him to check on his safety, we learned just how close he came to being in the maylay. (More story below.)
It turns out he was at Westgate Mall an hour before the shooting began, completing an errand my partner C.T. had sent him on! C.T. Butler, cofounder of the original Food Not Bombs collective, met Doug Rori at the IndyMedia Convergence in 2007. They’ve enjoyed a long distance, father-son relationship since then, with Doug initiating FNB work in Kenya, and C.T. sending donations from the United States.
Late Friday afternoon in Washington, DC, C.T. jumped up from a nap, remembering that he needed to rush to wire money needed that day for the transport cost of food for a group of kids.
I’ve written before about Doug’s inventive program to feed kids living in Nairobi slums and AIDS orphans who live on the streets. If he held a public feeding as Food Not Bombs chapters in America do, he would likely have a food riot on his hands, the need is so great. The forceful would take the food for themselves, subjecting Doug and other FNB volunteers to violence and leaving nothing for the children.
So instead of a public show, Doug advertises a free photojournalism class for kids. He conducts it in an enclosed courtyard or other location out of sight. The kids have a great time building skills and learning how to tell their stories. When it’s done, everyone eats a great meal.
Doug has established a couple of different locations for his enclosed workshops/feedings. And unlike American FNB members who can simply drive their food to the site of a feed, Doug has no car and has to be clandestine. He often has to hire taxis, at great expense, to deliver the hot food to the sites.
The donation C.T. had wired was to pay for the taxi. With C.T.’s call to alert him, Doug went to the Westgate Mall to pick up the wired money immediately. An hour after he left, the shooting started.
As a photojournalist for IndyMedia, Doug was interested to get as close as he safely could. The photos at the top are what he was able to send us. Stay safe, Doug! Send more when you can!
If you would like to donate to Doug’s project, visit: