Today I had the opportunity to interview Dan James Clarke, a 19-year-old Social Media Manager, and Writer. From the age of only 14, he was building up social media pages and helping major brands gain exposure and engagement. Dan now has a business where he provides growth and PR for artists, models, brands, and influencers. In 2016 Dan had the opportunity to visit Kenya with a charity called Harambee for Kenya. Today I will be talking with Dan about his experience and the things he was involved in doing.
What is Harambee for Kenya?
Harambee is Swahili for “all pull together”. Harambee for Kenya is all about pulling together in order to help the street kids of Kenya who are forced to fend for themselves as no one is able to take care of them. In 2007 the founders, who were helping Kenyan scouts look after street children, found out that the kids would go to scouts in their uniform then afterward return to the streets wearing their rags. They decided to set up the safehouses in order to give these street children a home and a chance at an education and a life they can enjoy.
How did the opportunity for you to get involved with them arise?
I had been apart of the scout association since I was 5 years old. I was always away on camps with them and I made some amazing friends in the process. I was given the opportunity to either go to Japan for the world scout jamboree or to go to Kenya to take part in some amazing charity work. I chose to take part in Harambee for Kenya because I think it is amazing what they are doing for the kids and I always wanted to help people who are less fortunate than I am. In order to fund the trip out there, I took part in lots of fundraising such as bag packing in supermarkets, and the rest of the money was funded by my mum who was very supportive of this opportunity I had been given.
What parts of Kenya did you travel to and what did you do there?
Harambee for Kenya has safehouses in Kisii and Meru. I had the opportunity to travel to both of the safehouses with the rest of the team and spent time updating the facilities in order to improve the quality of life for the kids. Whilst I was there, we went for a drive around the local town near the Kisii safe house at night. The sights were shocking for me and very emotional. There were so many young children living in such awful conditions. Most of them had bottles with glue inside which they would sniff in order to get high. Luckily, we managed to bring a child back to the safe house where they could be cleaned up and given some food and new clothes.
What was the most memorable moment for you?
I think the most memorable time for me was seeing the Kibera slum. Right in the middle of Nairobi, it is the largest urban slum in Africa. It was crazy to see how many people are living there in such small cramped shacks. Most people there are living on under £1 a day which made me realize how fortunate I am. I had only ever seen this stuff on TV before this moment which is why it was definitely the biggest eye-opener.
One of the best times I had there was taking all the boys from both safehouses away on a camping trip. We had lots of fun playing sports and doing competitions, although most of them were a lot better at football than I was. I loved every moment of it and I feel as though I became good friends with some of the boys who were my age at the time. It was sad to leave but I hope to continue helping Harambee for Kenya and return to the safehouses again in the near future.
How can other people support Harambee for Kenya?
The charity is run completely by volunteers and so all money that is raised goes directly to the children’s education and care. People can donate by visiting https://harambeeforkenya.org/help-us/
Finally, What’s next for you?
I am currently in the process of writing my online book which I hope can encourage young people to go out and achieve whatever they dream of. I am still looking to continue doing lots of charity work as well throughout my life in order to help as many vulnerable people as I can.
To keep up with my endeavors and to support my next moves feel free to follow me on Instagram @dan_clrk