CONVERSATIONS THAT MATTER
Clutch 4 Humankind is about the joy of family, friends, and feeling awesome when you get social. The power of colour and texture to ignite happiness and start conversations. Having conversations that matter.
Photographer & Storyteller
Brian took the photo of his wife Ann, who is featured on our Ann Clutch.
After the death of my mum as a child, I lived on the streets of Kampala. Sleeping on verandas, eating from bins and doing nasty things which would always get me into trouble.
I remember my mum asking me what I wanted to be and I described to her how I wanted to travel the world, taking photos, and telling stories. She concluded "a Journalist". That stuck with me and I believed that I would be that someday.
My uncle called me a disgrace and I was sent to the village Kitgum, in Northern Uganda. In Kitgum, I lived with my half brother who didn't care much about how I was. One day, in 2008, I was listening to Mighty Fire FM - Irene Gleeson Foundation's (IGF) community radio. They were talking about a Gospel Dance Party. I went, and there I met Jesus and I made him the lord of my life. That was the beginning of a new life.
I had challenges with school fees and one Sunday after church, I met IGF's founder the late Mama Irene (from Narrabeen in Sydney's Northern Beaches). She told me to come to IGF and gave me full tuition. After completing high school, I promised Mama Irene that I would do anything for her as my payback for her good gesture.
Mama Irene was testing my resilience and patience as I helped IGF build the maternity hospital. She then asked me to be a fixer for Ginny Stein, an ABC Journalist who recommended me well. I was trained on how to report news and given a little camera and a computer. I taught myself photography, videography and everything in between to express my stories. I became Kitgum's creative 'go to' person.
IGF changed thousands of lives and mine is one of them. I wanted to be a journalist, but I know I am more than that. I have a family. My name is Brian and I am a storyteller.
In 2020 I moved from IGF to work with CURE children's hospital international.
Managing Director & Principal Photographer, Oneill Photographics
The Only Way Was to Buy a Dead Mans Green Card
I was a banker before I was a photographer.
My parents wouldn't agree to me going to art school. They wanted me to get a real job. I'd been shooting since the age of ten. I always had the passion. I started on an Olympus Trip. Photographing everything. I grew up between London and Paris. My godmother was the curator at the Louvre. And she taught me so much about light, life and art. Light through cameras.
I worked in back office operations for Bankers Trust - they took me to NY for 3 months. It was the coldest winter in history. I brought a camera and had an exhibition and I vowed to make photography my career. I returned home to Australia at the age of 32 and resigned my job and finished up. A friend in NY offered me a couch for 4 weeks - I went from my nice fluffy job in designer clothes and back to NY aged 34, to live as an artist – to become a photographer.
I go for a job in NY and I get an interview. I didn't realise how lucky was. I get an interview with the photographer in his HUGE studio in Chelsea, Manhattan. His clients were the likes of Loreal. He himself was a doctor who became a photographer, so when he met a banker in her 30's who was becoming a photographer he said "you’re perfect for me, I'll take you on. Go off and buy yourself a green card, there are ways and means of doing things". But the only way I could do it was to buy a dead man's green card. I didn't have the courage even though it was very common 20 years ago.
I love Australia, so I came back after living the high life of NY, flying to Berlin for parties, you know... I had to come home. I had a proper career and I left my beautiful friends. It was an innate thing that I should become a photographer. I never doubted it. I was fated to do this. I wanted it more than getting married and having babies. I never thought about that. I thought about my dreams of flying around the world, photographing people and observing human nature. I loved the challenge of being able to get a connection with somebody - It’s the connection that makes the photo.
I went back to NY after 911. I went 3 weeks later. It was a tough time. I saw those towers, the remnants of it and the smell of the burning matter was horrendous. It floated over to Brooklyn. All these things shape you as a photographer. They deepen your emotions. They widen your heart. Your world as photographer is endless. It’s with you for life. How could you ever get bored of it? It connects you.
Local Government Health Nurse, Mother & Wife.
Ann is featured on our Ann Clutch
I was born in Uganda, a small town called Walukuba in Jinja District. They named me Adoch Anna. My father had two wives - my mum being his second young wife. I was one of 3 children but there were many cousins in the same house - a 4m x 4m room. I did not know any luxury. My dad was providing for 2 families. - 10 of his own children plus other dependents. He provided rent, medical needs and food. Mum brought us up humble and told us not to ask for what can't be afforded.
As I was growing up I wanted to be a doctor and I never changed my resolve. My grandfather told me I would help a lot of people. Throughout my schooling I had to push to achieve what was needed because I wanted to be a doctor one day.
Dad was an engineer in a mattress factory for over 29 years . The chemicals ruined his lungs and every day he went to work he became sicker, until he could go no more. Life hit us hard. Many of us were in high school.
My uncle agreed to help me go through nursing school and in 2013 I finished high school (with no retakes!) and went to Kitgum to work. I was so lonely there - I knew nobody and had no friends. One day Brian came in as a patient. After his treatment, he asked if I would be his friend and that's where my story began with him. My mum and dad are still alive and I thank God for that. I am a mother to a great and awesome son Caden, a wife to Brian, and a certificate nurse in a local government village health centre miles away from home.
In 2020 Brian was offered a job with CURE Children's Hospital International. We have to live 8 hours by bus from each other, but we come together as often as we can. I am so proud of him..
Sara (& Benny)
Lawyer (& Wilful Beastie)
He's just eaten his 10th pair of JANDALS this week. No Handbags fortunately.
Street dogs are a real problem here. Often abandoned pets when people relocate back to their own countries and can't or don't want to take their dog with them. There are a lot of charities doing very good work to rescue them and find them new homes. A friend of a friend was fostering a street dog mum and her 4 pups for one of these charities. My friend harassed me and told me there was never a better time to get a dog.
I wasn't travelling due to Covid and I put in my adoption papers. I didn't hear anything for a few weeks, then suddenly came the call - Dubai was going into total lockdown in 4 hours and I had to go and pick up my new puppy whom I'd never seen or met.
He has been my constant companion ever since and has brought such joy with his puppy antics. When he is away for the day, the house feels very empty and lonely and now it's hard to imagine life without Benny. Adopt don't shop. There are lots of animals who need a good home. I'm tempted to take on a second one - maybe not a 3 month old puppy though!
Kampala, Uganda. 2013
Brett is the Clutch 4 Humankind part time operations guy.
The Ugandan dood picked me up at 5am. Still dark. He took me to what I thought would be an airport. It was pitch black and the guy said, "I'm not leaving you here". I said I'd be fine but he made me sit in the car for a couple of hours until someone turned up. It was a tiny grass airstrip. Super dodgy.
They prayed for the flight before we took off. It was MAF - Mission Aviation Fellowship. Christian guys. We fly into Gulu, a one horse town and the plane lands on this dusty airstrip. One other guy gets off and disappears into the bushes and here I am on my own on a dirt runway, bags, and nothing as far as the eyes can see. And I'm there thinking they've forgotten me and I'm going to have to sit on this runway and fend for myself. Eventually a bunch of guys from IGF turn up in a ute. We pretty much 4WD it North about 4 hours to Kitgum. To the Irene Gleeson Foundation where I was going to check out the orphanage and school.
Spending time in the hospice was moving. Solid walls with a gap above the walls to let the light and air in. All the walls painted with happy murals for all the kids. One side of the building was the AIDS hospice with people in various stages of dying. Confronting. One lady in particular got it from her husband who was a truck driver. She couldn't talk. Was mostly paralyzed. It was really full on and I walked out very upset.