- Jon Nappa, Executive Director Storm Warriors International
Storm Warriors spent five days out of office in August to meet passionate locals and out-of-towners at the Lobster Festival in Rockland, Maine. It was great to hear different stories from those who have their own non-profits, those who enjoy beautiful art and those who are genuinely interested and impassioned about what Storm Warriors does. Thank you to everyone who came out and talked with us, and those who signed up for the newsletter. Welcome aboard!
In this issue, we feature videos that we've created for several not-for-profits in 2018. Also in this newsletter is a piece by Daniel Stephens, a Storm-Warriors-At-Large producer and cinematographer. His vision, determination and empathy have contributed much to the collaboration. In his article, Daniel shares a time in his life when he encountered everyday Storm Warriors in an unexpected place.
For those of you in the New England area, check out the upcoming events that Storm Warriors is participating in. We'll have awareness tables set up for you to come and check us out!
Congratulations to Leiegh from Belfast for winning our Storm Warriors gear raffle, and to Molly from Camden, for winning Brunch for Two at the Samoset Resort! Thanks to everyone for your enthusiastic participation!
Return to Matuu
by Daniel G. Stephens
It’s been a long, luminous late morning ride through the verdant Kenyan landscape to the farming town of Matuu. It’s early Spring, 2011 and I’m traveling with a few scientists from the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre to document the playing of a game about farming resilience. That’s right, I’m about to film farmers in rural Kenya playing a game. The game was designed to teach these farmers how to cope with a changing, sometimes chaotic climate. As it turns out, the game, in fact the entire day, was to set in motion a wonderful cycle of discovery, giving and friendship.
We arrive on the outskirts of the town among a group of small, tidy houses. We’re greeted with great joy and generosity. There’s a feast laid out for us of local vegetables, grains and meats. We all have something to eat before we begin the gaming session. It’s delicious and the abundance of food belies the root problem we’re here to discuss. While this town may seem to have plenty to eat at the moment, just one flood or drought could tip the food stocks into the negative.
The Climate Centre’s Pablo Suarez and Janot Mendler have designed a game specifically to demonstrate alternative methods of coping with a changing climate. They’ve brought it here to this remote town in the middle of Kenya to demonstrate its effectiveness in easing food insecurity. I’ve tagged along to make a short film about the process. But this isn’t what this story is really about.
The game was played. There were wonderful teaching and learning moments. The farmers who participated, young and old, women and men, seemed to agree this was a fun way to learn a few new and useful approaches to planning for a changing climate. I was caught up in the beauty of the place and its people and the connection they had with their land and one another. It’s a connection I’ve since seen in many places abroad and closer to home; a deep and abiding respect for place, for what the land offers and for those who work and love it together.
A few farmers, David and Daniel, had taken me aside at one point and mentioned they were working on a flood and drought resistant farming technique that had been used for generations but had fallen out of practice. It involved a plant called cassava, which is drought and flood resistant and even tasty. They had worked with the Red Cross/Red Crescent to create a small mill to turn the plant into flour that could be stored for long periods of time. They wanted to know if I would like to see it and perhaps make a film about it. Of course I would. But not this trip. We were heading back to Nairobi soon and I simply couldn’t stay.
I thanked Daniel and David for showing me what they were working on and told them I would love to come back and spend some time making a film about their project. Climbing back into the Toyota Land Cruiser that would return us to the bustling metropolis of Nairobi, Pablo leaned over to me and said, quite matter of fact, ‘you know, they expect you to come back now.’ ‘Oh,’ I said in surprise. ‘I’d love to if there’s any way to make that happen.’ ‘Well,’ Pablo said, ‘you should figure that out, because they’re expecting to see you again with your camera.’
Our trip back to Nairobi was quiet and delightfully warm for March. I would be leaving for Maine soon, where it would be decidedly cooler. But there were still a few more days in the warmth of Nairobi and I would enjoy them with my friends from the Red Cross/Red Crescent.
Back in Maine, life and work sailed by until one day almost a year later when I received an email from Pablo. He said they needed some filming done in Nairobi and would love for the filmmaker to be me. He also mentioned there was just enough in the budget to send me back to Matuu to work with the farmers to tell the story of their cassava mill. I was surprised. Not only was I going back to Kenya, a country that had stolen my heart and captivated my imagination, but I was going to get to spend time with Daniel and David, the farmers from Matuu to whom I had promised one day to return.
In less than a month I was back in Matuu having lunch with David and Daniel and planning our film. They were gracious and excited that I had returned to work with them and document their story. They both said that they knew I’d return because I had said I would.
We worked together for a week to create a short film about their mill and the flour it produced. It was a wonderful flour that could withstand drought or flood and could be stored for long periods of time without turning rancid; a much needed product in an area of the world subject to chaotic climate.
What I took away from all of this is that there are people in the world to whom one’s word is a bond. They are trusting people who have seen both the best and the worst of other humans and have chosen to continue to have faith that we are all brothers and sisters and that we all wish to do the right thing. They are beautiful people in the world who call you brother and treat you as such regardless of the color of your skin, the language that you speak or the nation you call home. They offer bonds that traverse difference and forge deep friendship. They are bonds of humanity - we are all kin, we are all part of the same cloth. Daniel and David knew this and they invited me to learn it, too. I went back to Kenya to make a film about a flour mill, but truly, what I returned with was a deep and abiding desire to connect more with my fellow humans, as I did during those days with two cassava farmers.
Many years later, I was given the gift of rediscovering that sense of hope and the desire to push past differences toward a common good. The passing of a dear friend, a brother in life and work, gave me the chance to get to know and ultimately work with an organization that he loved dearly. He was referring to Storm Warriors International. They help shine a light on people and organizations actively seeking to create a world of inclusion and safety for all. That reminded me of my time with Daniel and David. They had an unselfish desire to improve the lives of others in need of food security. Daniel and David were Storm Warriors, and I hope to live up to that moniker as well.
Executive Leadership from The Center for Grieving Children, sat down with Jon Nappa and Daniel Stephens, and talked about how they've been impacted by the Center and shared their hopes for those who need a place to grieve.
THE $10,000.00 AUGUST MATCH
Storm Warriors International has an incredible opportunity to DOUBLE the GIFT of anyone who gives any amount up to $10,000 during the month of August. This means a $5 gift becomes $10; a $50 gift becomes $100; and on and on up to $10,000.
If you've been wanting your gift to go as far as it can, then having it doubled is one sure way to do that.
People who have Substance Use Disorder. These are neighbors who are getting help in a non-judgemental environment for their active recovery. SWI is helping MCRC, who is currently purchasing safe houses for those who need them.
People in need of medical supplies. PWH collects unused medical supplies from local medical facilities and distributes them to people in need from far away countries while also sending along urgently needed medical personnel to provide emergency services; and scores of volunteers to assist in many ways including educating communities about global health issues.
Teens who have been sex-trafficked. These are teens right here in the USA who were kidnapped and forced into the degrading lifestyle of forced sex workers. Once rescued, they need love, support and lots of help. You can help us, help them.
Dr. Ira Mandel highlights the frightening statistics of opioid addiction that is plaguing the country. He founded The Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition, to address the issue in Maine and is helping to provide a working community model for those seeking recovery.
We have all heard about the horrors of human sex trafficking. Most of us imagine it's only happening in faraway countries, or at least in big cities. Actually, it is happening all over America, and in the smallest communities. The people behind Just Love Worldwide in Portland, ME see the devastating effects firsthand, and work towards helping women and men escape their captors. This month, listen to one woman courageously share her story, and how she's been supported by the Just Love team. If you think you've encountered someone who may need help, please reach out to Justlove@eastpoint.church
In May 2018, Storm Warriors had the opportunity to send cinematographer, David Wright to Senegal, Africa. He accompanied Elizabeth McLellan and her amazing crew at Partners For World Health. The mission was to educate the local hospital staff on preventative care and to medically attend to patients in need. Currently, Storm Warriors is working on the video footage of that journey, in the first of several projects featuring foreign locations where PWH is at work. As a sneak peek, please enjoy this montage of photographs that David so expertly captured.
Click here for a free pdf version of the book!
Storm Warriors at the Lobster Festival
A big thank you to the Maine Lobster Festival for a great week and our first run at the fair. We met so many wonderful people and connected with our tent neighbors about the humid weather. If you were there and were interested in the art we offered as appreciation gifts for donations, you can see it all again, HERE.