The Dusty Feet Model

The Name

The Dust of Africa will never leave the soles of your feet – African Proverb

During Executive Director and founder Nate Kaunley’s first trip to Kenya he heard an African proverb that he found true in his own short time in East Africa.

Nate couldn’t shake the friendships, encounters, passions -the dust- of East Africa, so he chose to embrace it and named the organization Dusty Feet.

The Dust of Africa will never leave the soles of your feet


Human Rights

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

The preamble of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) declares that every individual and institution within society is responsible to work towards the securing of universal rights for all. The UNDHR provides a framework with which Dusty Feet productively interacts with two distinct sectors: policy makers who control the allocation of resources and draft government standards and economic forces on the national, international and transnational levels who contribute positively and negatively to developing societies. Utilizing the common language of the UNDHR was enormously beneficial for Dusty Feet as we prepared our foundational documents. It continues to help us as we publicly communicate our mission, implement our programs and evaluate our effectiveness.

“No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

“Everyone has the right to work, of free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. Everyone, without any discrimination has the right to equal pay for equal work. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.”

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

“In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order, and the general welfare in a democratic society.”


A Brief History


nate-patrick-freddie The Dusty Feet story began in 2006 when a friendship formed between a group of three young Americans and two young Kenyan leaders. Surrounded by the beauty and heartbreak in East Africa, these friends devoted their lives to combating human trafficking and stimulating economic development in the slums of Nairobi.

Deriving methodology from both scholarly and practical sources, the youthful Dusty Feet team was determined to develop an appropriately complex solution to stubborn problems in slums. Influenced by the writings of Amartya Sen, the Dusty Feet founders conducted eight months of on-the-ground research in the slums of Nairobi. Those months were spent conducting first-person interviews with hundreds of community members as well as visiting dozens of organizations working in the slums — some doing great work; and others, in our opinion, doing more harm than good.

The Dusty Feet Team was initially focused on improving the situation of children living on the streets of Nairobi, but during the course of our research the issue of human trafficking kept surfacing. It became apparent that human trafficking in Nairobi was a problem not being addressed by other organizations working in the slums. Hearing stories of children being sold or abducted and having their organs harvested to be sold on the black market deeply disturbed us. From that point forward, the fight against human trafficking became our greatest passion.

Along with our research on human trafficking, it became increasingly clear that instead of relying on outside donors, government officials and international organizations, struggling communities had the power to fund the programs on which they rely — hence the creation of Echo Alliance. Echo Alliance is the umbrella organization for local businesses that financially support the social initiatives of Dusty Feet. By diversifying our support base, Dusty Feet fosters sustainable growth so our efforts against human trafficking can eventually run independently of outside support.


Core Values

When faced with difficult decisions, Dusty Feet regularly returns to our mission statement and core values. These values directly inform our actions when we might otherwise be swayed to take an easier or different path altogether.

Dusty Feet derives much of our methodology from examining the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and striving to bring those rights into reality. We believe that by using the most comprehensive and universally agreed upon statement of human rights, we are sure of working towards common goals with governments and non-governmental organizations alike. By empowering people to change their circumstances through opportunity, they will find hope in their own abilities. Dusty Feet has never presumed to be “the hope,” rather we hope to provide a place where vulnerable people can find it within themselves.
Programs that are effective and sustainable are realized when the local community is in charge. By having local ownership we ensure community involvement. Our Kenya- and U.S.-based teams share ideas and work out practical solutions together, but at the end of the day, our team on the ground in Kenya makes final decisions and carries out the work of Dusty Feet. We are structured to empower our Kenyan-based team to fully embrace the hardships and successes they see by having our American team members maintaining residence in the United States. This is not the easiest path, but it is the path that we feel dignifies our team and those we serve.
Freedom from poverty comes from locally sustainable initiatives. Sustainable development is defined by the Brundtland’s Commission as, “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” To Dusty Feet, this means that solving today’s problems should never jeopardize opportunities tomorrow.

Traditional aid is insufficient in its ability to end poverty and the ills that result from it. We believe that aid in its traditional form fosters dependency without providing sufficient opportunity to advance one’s own situation. In fact, local economies are often stifled by well-intentioned donations. While handing out food, clothes and money to individuals seen as “less fortunate” does meet immediate needs, it neglects to foster relationships. We at Dusty Feet believe that restored relationships between individuals in a community and between individuals and their government is the most effective solution in combating poverty.

Where would any of us be without the guidance and support of partners? Dusty Feet has seen numerous successes because of our willingness to partner with other organizations in Kenya and around the world.

Our partners provide us with accountability and vigor for our work. By being willing to volunteer our time and occasional resources we have postured ourselves as neutral and effective proponents of positive change. We truly believe that by joining together we can accomplish what none of us can do alone.

Our team welcomes questions about our operations and finances. We strive to adhere to all state, federal and international laws, while treating every human being with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Combating corruption has its sinkholes and wrong turns which we avoid at all costs. By maintaining healthy accountability structures and partnerships, we keep ourselves constantly in check. If you have questions about Dusty Feet, email us at


Educate + Protect + Advocate

Rationale of our programs

Dusty Feet economic and social initiatives seek to empower through education, protection and advocacy. We strive to be research driven, results based and intentional with our actions.

Along our journey we often find ourselves asking, “Why? Why are people being trafficked?!” One answer is that people do not know they are entering into a dangerous situation. Motivated to educate our community, we began researching ways to educate people about human trafficking. In 2012, we developed the Dusty Feet Human Trafficking Prevention Curriculum that is taught at schools, concerts and free conferences for the unemployed in Kenya. Knowing the signs of human trafficking and methods to discern if an employer is legitimate is the focus of our curriculum against human trafficking. Each year we place resources into tens of thousands of hands to help people protect themselves, educate their communities and report illegal activity.safehouse-img_03SAFE HOUSE
The evolution of our community center, located in Mathare Valley, began with the need to directly intervene and provide a place for vulnerable people to to find refuge from dangerous situations. At night, the Dusty Feet Safe House provides homeless women and children, both of whom are at risk, a place to get off the streets so they can avoid exploitation or abuse. As the day bustles, so does the center. Women come for vocational and life-skills training. The center will also host community meetings which will bring local leaders and community members together to discuss problems and formulate plans of action. At the safe house, people can find refuge, value and hope.ehpaht-img_03EAST AFRICA PARTNERSHIP AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING
As a single organization, Dusty Feet is limited in our resources and reach of our staff, interns and champions. To address these limitations, we have created the East African Partnership Against Human Trafficking (E.A.P.A.H.T.), which gathers community leaders and organizations from around the country in an informal partnership that serves to formulate a comprehensive plan of action against human trafficking. Members of the E.A.P.A.H.T. believe that they can accomplish more than they can alone -even if it’s just being aware of what each other are doing. If you are interested in joining the E.A.P.A.H.T., contact us at

We are honored to have been a part of a major step forward in Kenya’s fight against human trafficking: The 2010 Counter-Trafficking in Persons Bill. This legislation clearly states the illegality of human trafficking in Kenya. The Counter-Trafficking in Persons Bill also substantiates arguments to prosecute perpetrators and define the rights of victims of human trafficking. Since the bill’s passage in 2010, some action has been taken to prosecute traffickers, but these efforts are often swept under the rug by a system that overlooks the victim. Dusty Feet continues to find ways to support legal actions against perpetrators by promoting rights awareness and reporting via Crowdmap.

Crowdmap is an interactive reporting system that allows anyone with a mobile phone in Kenya to report human trafficking. Kenyans are reliant on their mobile phones for financial transfers, general Internet usage and frequent communication. By utilizing this simple mobile technology, Dusty Feet is operating a mobile human trafficking reporting network that eliminates barriers between victims and the authorities. To see our Crowdmap, click HERE.

Crowdmap also helps local authorities visualize hotspots of human trafficking in neighborhoods where police presence is sparse if it exists at all.
Beware traffickers! The masses are watching and fighting for the cause of the oppressed!


While much of the work of Dusty Feet is focused on sustainable programs, our Kenyan staff approached us about the need to address the ever-present need for food in the slums of Nairobi. In response, Dusty Feet, in partnership with local hip-hop group BMF and Joy Devine Children’s Home, now co-hosts a monthly feeding program in the slums. This event meets the immediate needs of our community as well as providing us with the opportunity to conduct research on illicit activities in our neighborhood. We recognize the conflict Project 300 has with our core value of sustainability. But we feel that taking a hard line stance to prove a point while members of our community go hungry is a fruitless endeavor. Make no mistake; Dusty Feet does not begrudge charity or feeding the hungry. It is our duty to do so for those who are in need.


Dusty Feet founders Patrick Maina and Freddie Ouma are half of BMF, one of East Africa’s most popular hip-hop groups. Also consisting of Sammy Dee and Harrison Oshoya, BMF won the Best New Artist category at the Groove Awards in 2010. BMF’s music is played in churches, clubs, on the radio and television regularly. With their musical influence, Patrick and Freddie have the opportunity to share about Dusty Feet and the issues we address on a national scale. Through this connection, Dusty Feet has open doors to platforms that would otherwise be closed to discussion of such a sensitive topic.


Cash Flow

Dusty Feet is proud to partner with so many of you to ignite change. Your financial support funnels through the organization in various ways. By having profits from our businesses, donations and grants pouring into our organization, we are tackling the ever-present issue of funding from all fronts. To help you visualize how funds move through our organization, see the flowchart below.


dream Big → Plan → Act → Evaluate → Plan → Repeat.