Dusty Feet partners with award-winning East African hip-hop duo to improve plight of Kenyans
June 29, 2012 | Chase Replogle
Freddie Ouma and Patrick Maina work by day to fight human trafficking in their neighborhood of Nairobi, Kenya. At night, their hip-hop group, BMF, plays concerts for thousands of fans. And after the music dies down, they walk back to their homes on the outskirts of Nairobi’s most dangerous slum, Mathare Valley.
In a country where “everyone is a musician,” how did these two get their break? Through an Evangel University connection.
Following his graduation from Evangel in 2006, Springfield-native Nate Kaunley started Dusty Feet as a nonprofit organization to work in Nairobi’s urban communities. There he met Freddie and Patrick, discovered a shared vision, and formed a partnership to better the lives of those marginalized by poverty in Kenya.
“Since then, we have built a safe house for youth living on the streets of Nairobi, brought life-saving programs and resources to the slums, and sponsored legislation to outlaw human trafficking in Kenya. That legislation passed in 2010,” says Kaunley.
As Dusty Feet matured, Kaunley put together a team of five Evangel alumni — himself, plus Grant Heugel, Jess Heugel, Celia Plumb and Andrew Earle.
“We all operate under the same world view,” says Kaunley. “Empowering people is something we learned was important at Evangel; and now, it is what we do.”
Freddie and Patrick were among the first to benefit from Dusty Feet. They credit the partnership with a job, which then led to great exposure in their community and empowerment to pursue their musical dream.
Since 2009, BMF has taken off — they’ve been named Best New Artist, Most Promising Group, and Best Group at major African music-awards events.
Yet, thankfully, they refuse to give up their day job.
“As country directors, they are Dusty Feet’s hands and feet on the ground,” says Kaunley. “We wouldn’t have had the success that we’ve had without them.”
For more information on Dusty Feet, visit http://www.dustyfeetonline.com
TOP PHOTO CAPTION: Evangel graduates Nate Kaunley (left) and Jess Huegel (right) recently brought Freddie Ouma and Patrick Maina to the USA. While in Springfield, they visited the EU campus.
— Jess Heugel, communications director for Dusty Feet