In 1990, Dan organized a safari with friends from six countries after the group raised $17,000 to benefit survivors of the civil war in Mozambique and provide them with wells for clean drinking water. The group was received with open arms when they reached the Mwanza Camp. Although the refugees possessed little more than the clothes on their backs, their lives were rich in ways the young people had never seen before. Existing in a tightly knit community, they supported one another; elders guided their clans and child rearing was shared with babies passed from lap to lap. There was a sense of joy and community in the camps that astonished the students, who had expected a dreary environment filled with hopeless people.
The group decided that the money would go to build two wells and to a children’s orphanage for blankets. They also decided to donate Arabella — somewhat the worse for wear after the arduous journey — to the Save the Children organization for self-help agricultural projects. Dan drove Deziree back to Nairobi.
The safari was a transforming experience for its members. Several of the group changed their careers to include some form of service through international diplomacy, journalism, teaching or politics. Years later, the Team Deziree alumni includes Oscar-winning director Chris Nolan (Batman, The Dark Knight) and Oscar- nominated Roko Belic (Genghis Blues, Happy), The New York Times East Africa bureau chief Jeffrey Gettleman, (who survived a 2004 kidnapping in Baghdad and a hijacking in Ethiopia in 2007), and Elinor Tatum, Publisher and Managing Editor of the Amsterdam News, America’s largest African-American newspaper, as well as two teachers, an architect, several high-powered international businesspersons and an airline hostess.
“Dan reminded me that challenging myself and having fun along the way was not only what a safari is all about, but what life is all about .” — Hayden Bixby