Long time traveler turned photographer and philanthropist, Kane Ryan has lived in Mumbai, India for the past 4 years. Working primarily in the Saki Naka slum community building a school, women’s centre and providing healthcare for the community. Over the last 4 years his small non profit has helped Janvi trust and the community turn the Saki Naka slum into one of the cleanest in the city.
Kane is also a regular author at Life As A Human.
LAAH: What exactly is it that you do?
KR: My mandate is to “see a need and fill it”. Over the course of the last 4 years, that has been everything from throwing a birthday party to building a school. DWP focuses on the individual sponsorship of educations and providing healthcare for people and families that cannot afford it.
LAAH: When did you start?
KR: I was backpacking through India in 2008 and fell in love with what was and still is the craziest country I’ve ever had the privilege of living in. I realized then what a small amount of money could do for so many and was eager to see what I could do to help.
LAAH: Why do you do it and what is the motivation or passion that keeps you going?
KR: There are a million clichés that could be used here but to be honest there were a lot of selfish reasons as well. Part of it might have been to prove my grade 5 teacher wrong who wrote on my report card that I have no empathy for others. But first and foremost I enjoy it, if I didn’t I couldn’t have done it for this long. The motivation comes from those care free and happy moments you get to share with people so different from yourself yet so the same and finding a connection.
LAAH: Do you feel that what you have done so far has made a difference? If so, can you explain how?
KR: It can be hard to judge if you’ve made a difference sometimes. Its not always black and white. DWP has done some amazing things over the last 4 years in Mumbai. Turning the garbage dump into a community space, the school and some of the more permanent projects are easy to measure. But it is the connections and small things that have made the biggest difference to me and hopefully to those individuals and families as well.
LAAH: Who are your allies and supporters in this enterprise?
KR: My family has been my biggest supporter from day one. But it has been a community of donors, friend and supporters from all over the world that have made it possible. DWP isn’t your run of the mill charity. We don’t send out spread sheets and graphs and outlay our projects. We tell stories through photographs and writing and based on that, people donate. DWP has raised thousands upon thousands on small individual donations. DWP is built on trust and that to me is very special.
LAAH: Do you have plans to grow your involvement, to expand the scope of your project? If so, can you elaborate on these plans?
KR: DWP is small because we have kept it small and we have no plans on changing that. I have currently come home to Canada and am working on a project that will see DWP work locally here for the first time while my parents take over the overseas portion of DWP projects.
LAAH: Like anything in life worth working for there must be difficulties and struggles too. Can you share with us what have been your greatest challenges?
KR: Social work is incredibly difficult at times. Due to the nature of the work you are present during people’s worst and most traumatic times in their lives and have to somehow decipher their culture and language in order to help. India is incredibly complex and although I feel like I have learned so much in 4 years, I will never be Indian and never come even close to understanding what it is like to be Indian. No matter how immersed you become in a culture you still bring your own customs and beliefs with you and they are hard to shake. Sometimes the answer to a problem in my eyes couldn’t be farther from the right way and it can be very frustrating at times.
LAAH: How can people help you?
KR: Every bit helps whether it is a donation or just spreading the word. Above all we hope that our stories inspire others to find their own way to contribute whether it would be through The Dirty Wall Project or by other means.
Watch this short video about Dirty Wall Project’s work
with Janvi Trust in Mumbai, India
The Kerosene Curry Cookbook
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The Life As A Human team thanks Kane for all of the great work he has done in India and for giving us this interview. If you know Kane, or if his work has touched your life in some way, please leave him a comment.
We know he would love to hear from you!
All Photos Are © Dirty Wall Project Foundation