Ryan LeCluyse

The stories of Eastern African communities. Told by the people who live them.
  • My Goal:
  • $10,000
  • Raised So Far:
  • $16,262
  • # of Donations:
  • 78
$16262 of $10000 goal

Episode 3: Women of the World, Take Over (the end)

Update #9  •   Posted 825 day(s) ago

Dear donors,

It's with a lot of joy and a tiny amount of sadness that I'm announcing the third and final episode of Under the Tree. David and Erick, the founders of the Akili Preparatory School in Kisumu, Kenya were slightly shy and unasumming when I first met them. They were proud to show me what they had built, but wary of a stranger with a camera. However, after cooking dinner for them and their families, (Chipsi Mayai, a recipe I learned in Tanzania) they were no longer just inspiring figures to me — they also became my friends.

To see the difference these two are making and to understand why, watch: Episode 3: Women of the World, Take Over

If you feel so inclined, please share this! The more people who come across this project, the more effective it is.

Need help thinking of a tweet?
Episode 3 of #underthetree by @Ryan_LeCluyse tells a story of an all girls school in one of Kenya's densest slums http://goo.gl/GHjMb5

Facebook Inclined?
"Women of the World, Take Over" is the story of two best friends' journey off the beaten path to provide education for girls in one of Kenya's densest slums. Mama Hope brings you a unique look at what it takes to fight for education http://underthetree.mamahope.org/episode-3/


This will be the last update from me regarding this project. Thanks for being there at the beginning and being here at the end. This journey has changed the course of my life... And I'm proud to share that I've received feedback from many individuals (strangers and friends) who share that sentiment. Thank you all again for making that change possible.


Episode 2: The Holy Lie

Update #8  •   Posted 1039 day(s) ago

Dear donors,

I'm so happy to (finally) share the second episode of my collaboration with Mama Hope. Exactly one year ago, I made my first visit to the village of Mlali, Tanzania to see the Queen Elizabeth Academy and spend some time with the students there. At the end of my first week, I remember thinking how impossible it would be to portray the beauty of that place... If I've done even an ounce of justice to Mlali and what the incredible Kilines Sekwiha is doing there, then I think you will be pleased with this story. 

If you feel so inclined, please share this! The more people who come across this project, the more effective it is. Also, if there is any individual or group you think I should reach out to regarding spreading the word, please email me.
Need help thinking of a tweet?
"The Holy Lie" a collaboration between @Mama_Hope & @Ryan_LeCluyse tells a story of education in rural Tanzania http://goo.gl/T6Z0BS
Facebook Inclined?
"The Holy Lie" is the story of sacrifice and education in a rural Tanzanian village. Mama Hope brings you a unique look at a school seeking to make education more accessible http://underthetree.mamahope.org/episode-2/
Again, I can't stress enough how humbled I am by all of your help to make this project possible. Please feel free to reach out to me with any comments or suggestions! One more episode to go.

Episode 1: 20 Kilometers to Birth

Update #7  •   Posted 1207 day(s) ago

Today is the day,

About a month back, the Mama Hope team screened a selection of Under the Tree films in Budondo. What I heard back was outstanding. You’ll be proud to know that the Mukisas, the Suubi staff, and the larger community truly enjoyed the project. Charles Mukisa himself messaged me, “Thank you for making the precious work.”

It has been a long (and winding) road, but finally, the first installment of Under the Tree is available to view! Please enjoy Episode 1: 20 Kilometers to Birth. Share it with friends, family, and the rest of the world. I’d love to hear what you think; please feel free to ask me questions and/or send feedback!

Thanks all of you for making this possible. Working on this piece has been an absolute joy and I look forward to bringing you even more incredible stories soon!


Coming Soon — 20 Kilometers to Birth

Update #6  •   Posted 1260 day(s) ago

Friends of Under the Tree,

It's with great pride that I announce today is the San Francisco premiere of episode one entitled 20 Kilometers to Birth:

Father and husband Bernard Mukisa has been lucky his whole life. There was always helping hand when he needed it, and he’s finally found himself in a position to pay it forward. He and his family have built a health center for Budondo and the surrounding county; the first one locally for these ~26,000 people. To provide the funds they need to support Suubi (hope), they have started growing passion fruit, a cash-crop, which inherently battles the prevalent and destructive alternative, sugarcane.

I'd like to share with you an exclusive preview of the opening film. Please don't share this outside of people immediately surrounding your laptop, phone, or other web viewing device! Click here to view

The films for this episode are complete and the entire interactive experience will be released within the next month. A generous team of volunteers and I have been hard at work and look forward to brining you this and the following two installments as soon as we can!

Until then, thanks as always and feel free to share the official project URL http://underthetree.mamahope.org/

Ryan LeCluyse


Back in the USA

Update #5  •   Posted 1321 day(s) ago

Dear donors,

I know, it’s been a long time since my last update. I returned to San Francisco two weeks ago and the project is already underway. As the production phase begins, it has been a pleasure to sort back through all of the footage, audio, photos, and stories I captured. I can’t wait to share everything with you.

So far, the funds we’ve raised have made my trip and all of the equipment I’ve utilized available. The remaining funds had been set aside for now, when the pieces of the project start to fall into place. From software to hosting fees, your money is still hard at work! I’m also excited to say that a crack-team has agreed to join me on this last leg of the project. Several respected professionals, who also happen to be great friends, have agreed to help out on things like soundtrack, film editing, writing, and design + development.

This is likely the last update here until we cut the trailer for the first episode of Under the Tree (which you guys will get a sneak peek at). Please stay tuned on the project journal and Facebook for further updates. Until then, thanks as always for being a part of the team.

Ryan LeCluyse

Hello from SIzomu Wi-Fi in Jinja, Uganda

Update #4  •   Posted 1420 day(s) ago


It's with deep gratitude that I greet you from a tiny internet café in Jinja, Uganda. I've now been traveling in Eastern Africa for two weeks. I've been doing quick visits to each of Mama Hope's projects to introduce myself to each of our partners and begin sketching what a longer photo/film shoot might look like. Up next is Kisumu, Kenya where I'll be able to provide a more detailed update in the form of my first blog post.

Now, onto business: despite the range of donation rewards available, the resoundingly popular choice was for written post cards. If you are interested in this reward, please send me your mailing address (rlecluyse@gmail.com) and I will write you as soon as I can—I can't wait to describe what these two short weeks have been like and can only imagine what's in store.

If there was another reward you qualified for and are interested in, please let me know now and I can start to make preperations for when I am back in San Francisco.

Webale ("thank you", in Lusoga),

Happy New Year and Congratulations

Update #3  •   Posted 1439 day(s) ago

Hello everyone,

I'm proud to say, 2 days before the deadline, we crossed the finish line and are now at $11,238! Classy.org doesn't have the final total (as several donations were made privately and directly to Mama Hope's website), but we are officially there.

Fundraising has been a humbling experience. I've been overwhelmed by the profound support from family, old friends, new friends, and even strangers. As I prepare for the next 4 months I'll keep all of your encouragement and inspiration in mind... In turn, I hope that I'll be able to inspire you with stories from this experience.

I'm working on designing my blog/journal to keep you updated along the way. Bear with me as I lock in the final code and adjustments!

Happy New Year,


Happy Thanksgiving

Update #2  •   Posted 1470 day(s) ago

Hello folks,

I hope you all had a great holiday break. It's always hard getting back into the swing of things afterward, but this time I hit the ground running. Over the weekend, a close friend and talented filmmaker, Dan helped cut a fundraiser film. We hope that it will serve as a better way to inform people about the project and share around.

I'm officially going to start pushing it out tomorrow, but you guys can check out a sneak peek here! Thanks to Dan Schwartzbaum for all of the help and Andrew Weathers for letting me use his gorgeous song.

We're over a third of the way there with 30 days left. This month I'm going to be working non-stop to ensure that the funding goal is reached. Thanks again for all of your support and encouragement so far.


Under the Tree

Update #1  •   Posted 1490 day(s) ago

Hello generous donors!

I wanted to update you all that I've finally launched the project site for our (that's right, you're invested now) documentary, which I'm now calling Under the Tree.

Check it out here

It contains a lot of the information found on this Classy site, but provides a much richer experience and hilights some fancy donation perks! On that note, if you've donated and fall into one or more of the categories, I've already signed you up to receive your gifts.

Please feel free to send the link out to your networks or send any feedback on the site my way!

Wishing you all of the best,