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Difference Maker

Paul Joynson-Hicks launches groups that empower Africa's poor and disabled

Photographer Paul Joynson-Hicks has a second vocation: He founds nonprofit organizations in Uganda and Tanzania that serve the needy.

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He spent several nights on the streets of Kampala, Uganda – sleeping curled up behind trash cans and talking with street children – to see how he could help.

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The answer turned out to be simple.

"We'd like to eat and play football [soccer]," the kids said.

A week later, Joynson-Hicks, a friend, and 10 "boisterous, smelly" street kids piled into his Land Cruiser and headed out with a soccer ball and a feast packed.

"They still had glue and gasoline sticking to their clothes ... but they were full of great character!" Joynson-Hicks says.

The Tigers Football Club became a weekly occurrence, growing to serve hundreds of street children and providing entertainment, empowerment, and even basic health care to disadvantaged youths.

The ragtag group managed to win Kampala's Kadya Youth Trophy, beating established youth groups and schools while playing barefoot. "It's still my proudest sporting trophy," Joynson-Hicks says.

Andrew Williams, a social worker who helped support the organization financially from Belgium, agreed to move to Kampala and take it over full time. Under Mr. Williams, it grew to become Retrak, which today serves thousands of disadvantaged youths across Kenya and Uganda.

Joynson-Hicks has "a big heart, and a big vision," Williams says, "but he also had humility and wisdom, realizing that he wasn't the best person to run it full time."

Joynson-Hicks later moved to Dar es Salaam and formed another charity, the Goat Races. This annual event (which does involve racing goats) has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities.

"There's so much need, so many people who need help in [Tanzania], it's a bottomless pit," says Adam Fuller, general manager of the Southern Sun, a luxury hotel in Dar es Salaam, who has helped at Joynson-Hicks events over the years. "Yet Paul just always seems to pull all the right people together to become cheerful givers.... He's got the right recipe for doing good."

Joynson-Hicks now is on his fourth endeavor, a company called Molly's Network that helps accredit small nonprofits and connect them to resources, networks, and local and international donors.

But Molly's Network won't be a full-time job either.

Photography, still his passion, continues to fuel his charitable work, both emotionally and financially. "I love this kind of altruistic work ... but I don't think I'd be good at it full time," he says.

Part time seems to be good enough.

• To read other stories about people making a difference, go here.

[Editor's note: The original version of the headline on this story misidentified the countries that Mr. Joynson-Hicks works in.]


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