I walked into camp in rubber boots on the second day because the rainy season has been very bad this year and the result is a lot of mud! But mud and rain did not seem to deter volunteers or children in the least, and our numbers just increased on Day 2. I had about thirty children per class and this day is when we discussed what a mural in and who in our lives has been a hero to us (ie shown genuine love). We introduced Mother Theresa and Wangari Mathai to the children, as two heros whom we would like to commemorate by creating a portrait mural of each of them. The children did well, although compared to the Kibera group they definitely struggled more.
In addition to my own class, it seemed like all the other classes were running smoothly as well. Everyone knew their responsibility and was taking it very seriously. I was then able to focus completely on my thirty children classroom and work with the other two mural art teachers while trusting that the other classes were operating like they should.
The following thursday, exactly one week after the Kibera Art Camp, we were prepared and ready once again to do an identical art camp setup for children of a different community. Alfred Onyango, a local pastor who leads a church and a school (Greater Love Ministries) in the slums, agreed to host the camp in order to reach out to members in his local community. By partnering with a local church, the church took on responsibility of find classroom spaces for our artists to work, identifying and recruiting children in the community, and organizing for lunches to be prepared. As artists, It was our responsibility to just show up and teach!
We began assembly in a small church that had donated the space for the camp and about two hundred children flooded in underneath the corrugated metal roof. We sung songs, introduced the first of the three memory verses about love, and talked to the children about a particular aspect of love. I then led my first class to another building where we taught a 2 hour class about shading and sketching; quite similar to the lesson taught the previous week. A lunch of rice and beans interrupted our lesson, which, for many children, was a huge treat in two ways… 1) many of them do not eat three meals a day, but instead they will eat two or even just one in the evening. 2) Rice is a special food that children eat during holidays and special occasions because it is more expensive. After lunch we had a second group of children come in and we taught another class on shading before sending them to closing assembly and then dismissing until the following day.
We thanked our dedicated volunteers by giving them a fun day, spent in a park outside the city, called Paradise Lost. This trip was both a way to reward our team for the great job they did in Kibera and also build unity and a bond as they prepared for another week of art camp in Kawangware Slum. One of my goals for these two camps was to solidify a strong group of artists who will work together now and into the future, three times per year, rotating into different slums during the school holidays.
The day we set out for our “Fun Day” was rainy and gross-looking. I went to Uchumi, the nearby grocery store and ordered twenty sandwiches and grabbed drinks, all the while wondering how are outdoor outing idea would work in the rain. Once I dragged my santa clause load of food to the Center for Transforming Mission in Kibera I found the group just finishing up breakfast together and we headed out the door!
We traveled outside the busy city to a much quieter area. Paradise Lost is a jewel of a place- with waterfalls, boats to ride, and camel to ride, and caves to explore. None of the artists had ever been here before and so our rainy “Fun Day” turned out to be a wonderful opportunity for the team to have fun together. We did everything as a group… first boating, then waterfall and cave exploring, and finally camel rides. Breaking for lunch in the middle of our activities, I found out that few of the artists had ever eaten a sandwich before and were skeptical and intrigued by my lunch selection and were surprised that there was no ugali or sakuma.
As the day came to a close, we gathered under a pavilion by the lake, as it began to rain, and played group games. I was impressed by the enthusiastic participation by each member of the group, and was encouraged by the team spirit that was so evident in all that we did that day. The artists really deserved this small appreciation because of the hard work that they had put forth and even though traffic was horrendous on our way back home that night, we all were refreshed by the day and got closer with other team members.
The third day of camp was our last day, and of course the most packed!
The children were over 150 and for the morning session we let the children decide to go to whichever class they enjoyed the most and then the children worked on a presentation to present to the rest of camp during the afternoon celebration!
The Celebration is the pinnacle of the whole camp, when the children can show off their talent, appreciate the talents of others, and receive a certificate for their accomplishment.
The Inspiration Center came and I got about 30 hugs from my students from Mathare, before they also danced during the presentation.
They were so good and I am always blown away by the talent these children have inside of them.
Each class presented… Fashion did their runway walk, Dance, Drama, Creative Writing, and Mural Drawing was all represented!
At the end the children went to their class teachers and those children who came to all three days of camp received a certificate to appreciate their accomplishment.
On the second day of camp my class “graduated” from just learning about shading and practicing, to working on our mural.
We discussed heroes, and I asked the children to define what a hero is to them… the characteristics of a hero and who some of these people are in their life.
We then introduced the two heroes that we would be doing portraits of, Mother Theresa and Wangari Mathai and taught the kids a bit about these two people’s lives and how they demonstrated love in their life.
The children were each given a square which was part of the portrait of one of these heroes (morning class did Wangari Mathai and afternoon class was Mother Theresa).
Each child shaded their square according to the portrait picture so that when we put the squares together a face would form!
Mural Drawing Class
The first day in Kibera went very well. We had about 100 children arrive on this first day, which was a good number to begin with, and in general I felt like this year we were better organized and equipped to better handle the children we had… qualitiy triumphed over quality!
We had about 25 artists that each were assigned various classes (as teachers or assistants), then a pastor and youth leader who really drove home the concept of Love to the children, cooks, ect.
During the first day of Mural Drawing we had a morning class and an afternoon class. In both classes the children were given paper, and an HB and 2B pencil. We started by teaching the difference between the two pencils by having the children do experiment drawings and tell us what the difference is between the two.
Music and Dance Class
The children learned to shade, blend, and do cross-hatching on a value scale going from very dark to very light.
At the end of the class we gave the children a picture of a person with boxes (labeled 1,2,3,4) at the bottom of the page. They were to shade box #4 the darkest, then #3 lighter, #2 even lighter, and #1 lightest.Then they were to look on the face and whatever parts were labeled a certain number they would shade accordingly! It turned out cool and by the end of class the children had done a lot of shading!
Creative Writing Class
Last Tuesday the artists gathered at CTM from 9 am to 3 pm for an all day training. During the training we covered the BuildaBridge Classroom Model for lesson planning and teaching. About twenty artists sat in the rows of chairs we had lined up as I stood in front to teach on topics like what is a ritual?; How do you make a safe space for a child in the classroom?; What are the four goals that I should have when writing a lesson plan?; What are the objectives that I must have to meet my classroom goals?; How do I teach love through art?… After covering the components of a lesson plan, the artists decided which art forms they would teach and divided into classes groups, which represented the five classes. It was decided that our five classes would be drama, dance, creative writing, mural drawing, and fashion. Once divided each group wrote two lesson plans per class, so that our children would pass through the same two classes for two days in a row and then the third day we would focus on preparation and presenting at the celebration. This training was for both artists involved in the Kawangware and the Kibera art camps.