Tracey Sawyer established Testigo Africa in 2009 in response to a request from her Masai friends Olengunin and Namnyak Marle who live in the village of Longido in Tanzania. Her goal was to bring clean running water into their village. It was through Tracey’s six-year friendship with Namnyak that she witnessed the struggles endured in bringing water to the village and was inspired to leave her job and dedicate all her time and energies to Longido and the Testigo Africa projects. Testigo works at a grass roots level on long-term sustainable development projects that empower the communities and educate the world about their culture through project involvement, publications and documentary films.
Their first project was the water project in Longido. In addition Tracey continues to help, encouraging the Masai women to bring their beautiful jewellery to a wider public and implement permaculture projects to provide fresh vegetables.
I was invited to visit Longido in 2009 to photograph for the charity. It was an unforgettable adventure, spending time in nearby Arusha and travelling out to Longido to meet the people. They live a traditional Masai life, constantly battling nature, with drought and husbandry disease being particularly challenging. We witnessed the piles of rotting carcasses brought about by the persistent lack of rain. Tracey lives between her home in Melbourne and her hut in the village, fundraising and raising awareness of the villagers’ plight.
I returned in 2012 to witness progress on the water project and take new photographs for Testigo Africa’s 2013 “Yellow Bucket” campaign.