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Louis "Kengi" Carr

Louis

Louis "Kengi" Carr is a California native, born and raised in Santa Monica. He is a published photographer, writer and guest speaker. Formerly a private chef and events caterer, this formerly homeless, HIV positive, proud Angelino is now a activist and advocate for people with HIV and homeless individuals. He is the creator/founder of Project Kengikat, Do Something Saturday, Unplugging HIV and the author of 29 Months.

A lover of photography, blogging and vlogging and USC Football, Kengi has been rediscovering his love for Los Angeles, ceramics, painting and cooking while elevating the conversations of HIV and homelessness. He enjoys being outdoors, spending quality time with his friends and his amazing rescue dog Dodger.

Jan12

Success in 2014

Monday, 12 January 2015 Written by // Louis "Kengi" Carr - L.A. Correspondent Categories // African, Caribbean and Black, Activism, Gay Men, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Louis "Kengi" Carr

Our LA guy Kengi was diagnosed with HIV while homeless. From Skid Row to successful activism projects, Kengi takes a look back at the path he has travelled

Success in 2014

As I sit down to write this article so much is on my mind. There’s so much that I would love to share, but there just isn’t enough space to share it all with you. Just know that I’ve really missed being present here on PositiveLite.com. In all the places I’m able to write (outside of Project KengiKat) PositiveLite.com has always felt right and has always been very rewarding for me. With that said let me share a bit with you.

2014 was a great year for me. I set some high goals for myself and toward the end of the year I had some medical road blocks that I had to deal with.

I wanted to grow Project KengiKat and Do Something Saturday in addition to do some much needed traveling as well as create, produce and curate my own photography and art show. More importantly I wanted to find a sweet little buddy for Dodger. I’m smiling because every single goal I set I was able to accomplish, so on December 19th, (my 46th birthday) I had so much to celebrate with my close friends who gathered with me to celebrate another awesome year of life.

With every passing year I learn just what it means to be successful. I learn more about what success feels like and what it truly means. My parents always told me that success had nothing to do with money, trips or the accumulation of stuff. I’m so glad they pounded that lesson into my head, because once my money ran out and I was broke with absolutely nothing, it was their lessons about life and how to survive that allowed me to stand where I am today. I can honestly say that I am way more established and successful than I ever was with a fat bank account, two cars, fancy trips and fancy friends. I am way more centered and grounded and I would not trade the joy in my life along with my amazing friends for anything.

When I started Project KengiKat I did so because I wanted people to see a side of homelessness that has never been shown or talked about, but I did not want people to feel sorry for me or want to help just me. I wanted to empower people to help homeless people, I wanted people to see homeless people as humans. The same is true when I was diagnosed with HIV while homeless. Sure I could have focused on me and made it all about me, but that would serve no purpose or foster any real change. I wanted to empower people to care in a way that would inspire them into action.

My parents told me that I could do anything I set my mind to and worked hard for and I would not need money to do it. “Money would be nice baby, but that should never be your focus. You are more powerful than you know. Believe it and watch God move.”

Just when I thought I had achieved all the goals I had set for myself and there was nothing left for me to do, I received an email from someone who was once very critical of me and my community work, someone who eventually reached out to me for support. This person would later ask me to bring my HIV outreach to Skid Row, but in this email the person was asking me about a major decision in their life. I told them what I thought would be the best plan of action for them and said to keep me in the loop so I can support them as best I could.

December 18th, the day before my birthday I got another email with a picture of two keys. I jumped out of my seat and began to scream “yes, yes, yes.” Then the tears began to fall because I was just so damn proud to see this person stand up and face their demons. So happy that this person was now on a path that is healthy.

This was now the 13th person that I provide HIV peer support to that has come through some pretty harsh shit and later found themselves on a much better path because they were willing to do the work, the damned hard work to change things in their life.

That was by far the best way to end my year. Crying tears of joy for someone who has made it through the dark part of their life. Though they may have fallen down a few times and felt like they could not do it, they made it and for me it was a huge honour to stand there with them as they felt the sun on their faces, holding space for them as those smiles began to show on their faces and applaud them as they began to dance in the light of their hard work.

For me this is success, this is what I live for - seeing someone else make it through and beat their demons. For me this is what it means to live a life filled with purpose and passion. It’s what wakes me up and makes me smile so large.

I’m so looking forward to 2015. My goals are set and my creative energy is ready to create great things for great people.

“Louis thank you for pushing me and not judging me. Thank you for encouraging me to get the fuck up and change things in my life. I’ll never forget what you’ve done for me.”

In summary 2014 was pretty awesome. Sure there were some hard spots and parts I did not like, but everyday isn't going to be perfect, however that doesn’t mean that everyday doesn’t have purpose and meaning. I could use this space to talk about the few small things that were bad in 2014, but that would mean I was not present for all the amazing things from the year. I’d much rather focus on the awesome things and my amazing circle of dear friends and all the awesome things I get to experience each day.

Happy New Year!

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