Ray Besiga A Personal Website

Starkey Hearing Foundation Gala Weekend

With Tani and Bill

About 4 weeks ago, our beloved client, Starkey Hearing Foundation, invited the directors of Sparkplug to their Annual Gala. The gala is a weekend long event during which they celebrate their partnerships, ambitions, and achievements but most of all, show appreciation for the past year. It was an amazing evening of moving speeches and riveting performances, and overwhelming support for the gift of hearing by raising more than $8.7 million to reconnect families and communities around the world.

For a foundation the size of Starkey, it is very well run, with an amazing team of people who care about what they do and whom they serve. They seek to deliver the gift of hearing to those who need it most. With operations in over 45 countries worldwide, they wish to fulfill their ultimate mission that is, "So The World May Hear".

I first met Bill and Tani Austin, the co-founders, while volunteering at one of their missions here in Kampala back in 2012. I liked what they did and thought to take note the next time they were in Uganda. We met again in 2013, thanks to the venerable Richard Brown, and thus begun our journey to jumpstart their International Patient Database system. It is for this reason that I, together with my colleague Moses Mugisha, were invited to join celebration of this and the many other achievements that the Starkey Hearing Foundation achieved this past year.

I wish to share photos of some of my favorite moments from the gala, as well as talk a little bit about some of the interesting people I met there.

Starkey Gala Honorees I got to be in the same auditorium and share and evening with these amazing people. Care to guess the names of some of the people in this photo?

Founders' Circle Luncheon Founders' Circle Luncheon was really informative, and fulfilling as we got to see the product of our work on display, and meet Starkey partners from the different countries around the world. And I got to chat with the former president of Malawi, H.E. Dr. Joyce Banda!

Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe Meeting Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, a TIME 100 honoree, was one of the highlights for me as she represents the power of empathy and hope in any community. With her organization, Sewing Hope, she presides over Saint Monica's Vocational School in Gulu, Uganda and invites formerly abducted and ostracized girls, who return with LRA rebels' children, and imparts vocational skills such as tailoring so that they may gain independence. Working together with the Forest Whitaker Foundation and Pros for Africa, she has been able to have great impact on this section of her community. Keep up the great work Sister Nyirumbe.

Rami and Mazen The work that Abraham Rami Elhanan and Mazen Faraj are doing with Parents Circle - Families Forum to bring about peace in the Gaza strip cannot go ignored. Glad they got awarded for their efforts. I hope and pray for peace in Gaza.

Dikembe Mutombo Dikembe Mutombo is way taller than you! And he does a lot of great work with his foundation!

Miss Minnesota Miss Minnesota is a pre-med student. Her future is bright. She's gonna save lives.

Amazing Glitter Elephant This amazing glitter elephant. I'm an elephant clan boy so the obsession is warranted!

Ride or Die Dude And this!

Anyhow, the main reason I wrote this post was to show appreciation for our client, the Starkey Hearing Foundation, and highlight the importance of partnership. Choosing the right partners goes a long way in achieving impact for any cause you set out to achieve. Are you choosing the right partners?

In Amsterdam, Art Is Therapy


As I sit here in transit, in the library at Schipol Airport, my mind wanders back to the last time I was in Amsterdam, and not in transit. It was my maiden European adventure and I intended to make great use of it. Since travel is a journey not only for the body, but also for the mind and soul, I meant to use this trip to rekindle connections as well as indulge in culture and the arts. Amsterdam was the last of a tour of two cities.

A truly cosmopolitan city with wonderful people, plenty of bicycles, wonderful beer and a fantastical cycle of unending museum exhibitions. A true arts and culture galore!

Amsterdam has set a new tone for itself as a throwback to that time when art was ambitious enough to change lives, and inspire change in a person. As you walk about, you cannot help but notice the presence of exhibitions, temporary or permanent, just about everywhere. Vondelpark, in a space of an hour offered an open air theatre, random material installations, and unplanned tree climbing!

Open Air Theatre

Alien Brain

African Tree Climbing Lions

This got me rather excited for the museums. Queue the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk, and Van Gogh museums.

As luck would have it, the first exhibition I went to was "Art is Therapy" at the Rijksmuseum. A wonderful curation inspired by Visual Healing, by one of my favorite philosophers, Alain de Botton, and John Armstrong. The goal is to raise - and then answer in a distinctive way - the question of what the purpose of art really is. Mostly to propose that art can be looked to, and enjoyed for, its powerful therapeutic effect. In their own words:

Art is Therapy

This exhibitions had plenty of fantastic paintings and pieces but here's a few of those that stood out to me:

The White Swan A Scholar Man wooing lady A modern family. Then. Correctional Facility Officers

The next day, I sauntered on to the Stedelijk museum, which prides as the largest museum of modern and contemporary art and design in the Netherlands. It is huge, and now with world renowned collections, experimental exhibitions and engaging public programs, since moving into the new museum building. Some of the pieces I found intriguing:

Strawberry Fields Forever Magical Stationary Device Outgrowths Linking scales Diabolical Chainsaw Erotica Boat Spark's toy

What was most exciting, but equally draining was how open each and every piece was to one's interpretation. My thoughts were lukewarm at best, and remained unspoken. However, situations like these help one appreciate beauty in the unknown, or un-understood.

I highly recommend that anyone travel to Amsterdam, if not for the canals and coffeeshops, then for the art and culture. Looking forward to the next time.

Pitti Immagine Uomo Florence 2014

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86

It's a beautiful weekend, sun is out and glad to be back in Kampala. Been meaning to write for a while, if only for the catharsis, but there is so much to write about I do not know where to start. However, I decided to write about the reason I ended in Florence in the first place. Pitti Immagine Uomo!

Pitti Immagine Uomo, a key international trade event showcasing men’s fashions and contemporary lifestyle trends is a big deal that I had never heard of until my great friend and rising jaggernaut in the Men's Fashion accessories industry, Adrian Azodi, founder of Monsieur Fox extended an invite. It was an incredible event showcasing excellence of the makers of exclusive products, brands that have redefined men's fashion, special projects presented by leading international designers and new talent.

I am a rookie or otherwise totally clueless person when it comes to fashion. I know nothing about the workings of the fashion industry but decided to head out into the unknown anyway. See what it's about. However, I was not ready for the spectacle that I witnessed.

It was the utimate showcase, not just in fashion, but in personal and professional branding. From men's wear of tomorrow.

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Afro-inspired fashion

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Sporty looks

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Men Need More Style

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Kenneth Cole

New talent and special projects. I'm looking at you Edmund Ooi and Orange Culture.

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Edmund Ooi

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Orange Culture

Now, the Pitti Uomo, in Florence, is dubbed the most complete, innovative and market-oriented presentation of for men’s fashions but that definitely did not leave the women out. They stole the thunder, IMHO, as always! Donning super chic dresses..

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Lady In Pink

Hanging out casually..

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Beautiful ladies

Or on duty..with one of my favorite brands this year, Desigual

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Desigual

And my absolute favorite, Hamaki-Ho

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Hamaki-Ho Photobooth

Pitti Immagine Uomo 86 - Hamaki-Ho Photobooth

Looking forward to next year's!