Anneliese Vandenberg: Broken Open By the Streets of Kenya

Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields and Anneliese VandenbergAfter graduating from university, Anneliese Vandenberg found herself working as a model and living, what many would consider, a dream life.

But her life lacked something….

She was fascinated by the contrast in lifestyles of the ancient and modern(izing) world. Kenya was, to her, the prime example of this real world conflict. The bustling capital of Nairobi is rapidly developing right on top of the same land that the Turkana People have lived on for thousands of years.

An uncommon friendship with a neurobiologist friend led her to challenge her paradigm and make a powerful lifestyle choice.

Anneliese Relaxing with Good Life ProjectTogether the two moved to Kenya and chose a lifestyle wrapped in the turbulence of a life between the Turkana People and the rapid modernizing forces in Nairobi.

Her story of extreme immersion with the street kids of Kenya and the Turkana people is at times wonderful and at times despairing. While living there, she became focused on the problems facing the young poor people of the area. Many live in squalor and habitually huff glue. She tells her story of coming to terms with the problem, experiencing it first hand and finally what she has done to effect change as best she can.

“If there’s anything we can learn, it’s getting that connection back. Seeing each-other again. Eye contact. Thats the Good Life.” – Anneliese Vandenberg (Tweet me)


Discussion Points

  • We dive into the troubling yet powerful trailer of Tough Bond
  • What brought this powerful story into Anneliese’s life
  • How working with Amy Bardach turned her onto using journalism to expose troubling issues
  • Why and how Anneliese decided to shake up her reality and move to Kenya
  • How she and Austin Peck shared a sense of “loving what we had been doing, yet not wanting to do any more of it”
  • The strange union of a neurobiology phd. and a model living in the USA and how they decided to become a  team of documentary filmmakers in Kenya
  • Why the issues being faced in Kenyan villages mirror those faced all over the world
  • The process of how her team discovered the subject of their film
  • The mental virus created by an idle lifestyle largely due to dependence on relief food
  • Her transition from understanding the problem, deciding to address and choosing how to do it
  • The actual practice of huffing glue and the crude reality of life there
  • How she identified the root of the problem as a cultural breakdown in the symbiotic relationship the Turkana people have the land
  • Why the belief system in Kenya isolates the street kids of Kenya
  • The goal of Tough Bond: Giving the street kids a voice and representation
  • How we all have roles to play in avoiding this disconnect created by modernization
  • How this project dissolved her old constructs of seeing reality, “a new creativity has emerged”
  • Her intimate relationship with the Turkana people and how it played such a pivotal role in their story
  • About the loss of human knowledge from ancient civilizations like the Turkana
  • Where Anneliese will go from here and how we can help (hint: watch the film)
  •  The challenge of deciding to work more with the Turkana people or following her passion as a film maker
  • How Anneliese “taps into source”
  • Why these troubled Kenyan communities still have such open and loving Good Lives.

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