I Promise Africa
Posted on: May 20, 2005
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"I went to Kenya in Aug, 2001 to shoot a documentary on HIV+ orphans. It was my first time in Africa and I was extremely excited. I was there for one month, during which time the World Trade Center collapsed. I was in a rural village without newspapers, TVs or even running water. I filmed these children on a daily basis and with every chance I got, I played with them. They'd never seen a digital camera and no matter where I was, they'd follow. On my last day, the village leader named me "Thoun" which means "hero" in Luoh.
"I left Kenya for Amsterdam on Sept. 20th on my way back to the US. Still I had no knowledge of what happened. As I checked into Schiphol Airport, the guards seized my tweezers from my carry-on bag. All they told me was the US was on high security alert. I boarded to find only 50 passengers on a Boeing 747! When we arrived at LAX, something was wrong. The terminal was empty except for hundreds of soldiers in combat gear. I waited 30 minutes for a taxi until a police officer asked me what I was doing. I told him and asked him why everything was so empty. (I thought they were shooting a movie at the airport.) "Where have you been? The World Trade Center was attacked in New York and thousands of people died. There won't be any taxis coming here. You'd better walk." At that point I realized something happened while I was in Africa.
"That day, I received the first email of many informing me that a child in the film had died. It put the entire trip in perspective. Regardless of where you are in the world, tragedy is something everyone experiences, sometimes simultaneously. We must remember to never forget. I made this film to keep my promise to the children I met on my first trip to Africa."
-Jerry A. Henry
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