Portrait Project


"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

Joel Bryce

Africa's sufferings and celebrations are a thief that has stolen my heart.

Why, you ask? A simple, innocuous question. I'm asked it all the time. Why are you spending spring break working with Kenyan enterprises in Nairobi? Why did you spend your internship consulting small firms in Malawi? Why spend 70 hours busing across Southern Africa? Fair questions. But. . .I'm afraid I don't have the answers.

So go ahead. Cold call me. I'll look like I did on the first day of class.

I may stumble over my words and say that it may be the story of my great-grandfather – one of the first economists to "help" Sub-Saharan Africa. Or perhaps it's the values instilled in me by my parents; they taught me to love, to serve, even to favor the poor and marginalized. Or maybe it was Shupe Nkhwaza, the single and selfless mother of four running a small juice factory in Lilongwe, and the eager look in her eyes that said, I will do anything to generate quarterly earnings to return to my four little "shareholders."

But the truth is, I don't fully know. I simply know this. The cries and smiles of the poor in Sub-Saharan Africa pulse through my veins and cause my heart to beat.

— Joel Bryce