Throughout camp we talked to the shildren about the elements of love and learned songs in Swahili and English. Bellow are three songs… first is one in swahili, second is a song that goes in a round, which incorporated three groups singing three diferent things at the same time, and third is a song written at the artist training which talks about the elements of love. this last song involved the different groups of children standing when their group name (an aspect of love) as sung and then doing an action to represent that word.
For four days I taught kids ages 7 to 18. Since our theme was Love we looked at 4 heroes whose lives reflected love. These four included Mother Theresa, Gandhi, Wangari Maathai, and Salim (an eight year old boy who passed away earlier this year. Each class of children was educated about one of the Love Heroes during the week; we talked about their life, read about them, and finally each child participated in drawing a portrait of the hero.
For the drawing part, during the first day we passed out 2 different shades of pencil and a worksheet which helped the children understand what an HB pencil is verses a B5 pencil. We went over shading exercises and then I passed out a small square which was a portion of our portrait so that they could practice shading what they saw in the box. We discussed value, types of shading, and types of pencils on the first day and the children did a rough draft of their little square piece of the portrait.
The second day each child was given their square back again and this time they did the final copy. With an eight inch by eight inch square the children carefully drew what they saw on their small square.
Once collected I laminated each square and fit each square in place, just like a puzzle, in order to create a 20- square mural! 2 are still in the process, but 2 are finished so far and the kids have something to be proud of.
Last week, the day after I landed from Rwanda, I took a bus for 8 hours- straight to Mombasa! I got there late Saturday evening, just in time for dinner and to get a huge hug from so many of my kids! They were eating meet and ugali for dinner and for the rest of the trip they had meat twice a day, every day! I had missed the first day of classes because of the flight delay from Rwanda to Nairobi, but from Sunday until Tuesday I was the mural teacher with 4 different classes of children.
Each day the children attended classes from 9-12:30, after they had eaten breakfast, had assembly, and devotions in the morning. Devotions included lots of praise and worship, dancing, singing, testimonies, followed by a short message. Then breakfast, then assembly, where we discussed the theme of love, sung songs about love, and discussed biblical aspects of love (1st Corinthians 13). The children were even divided into groups during camp, each having a group leader and named a certain aspect of love (such as selfless, humility, hopefulness).
During the afternoons after lunch, the children were taken to the ocean or Haller Wildlife Park, then return, shower, dinner, and movies and talent show in the evenings!
Dandora is another informal settlement surrounding the city of Nairobi but the aspect of this area that is most prominent in the mind of Nairobian residence when you mention Dandora is… trash. All of the city’s garbage is taken in huge truckloads to Dandora and dumped. Many people live and find work and resources within the garbage dump. This year I have gotten to know a group of artists from Dandora and they decided they wanted to bring the Diaspora of Hope Art Camp to the children living in the dumping area. So in August, once the children were out of school for a few weeks break, the artists organized themselves and held the first ever art camp to hit Dandora!
My involvement was minimal, which is a good sign, in order for this camp to run on its own. My role was to come in and offer the Buildabridge camp training for a day where we covered lesson planning, creating a safe and supportive space, using the tools of the theme, motto, and rules so that while the children are taught art they are challenged in deep ways that speak into spiritual, emotional, and social areas of life. On the part of the artists, they identified a local church space to hold the camp for 4 days, targeting 60-80 children. The artists received a small donation of money to work with from a local organization so this was used for a few art supplies in addition to lunch and porridge each day for the children in order to hold them into the afternoon. The classes offered were based on the art forms that these artists were most skilled in…including drawing, dance, and card making. In the future they would like to teach glass painting but this is more costly so hopefully next year, in anticipation of the camp, the artists will be able to find these resources before camp.
During the camp I was able to be on observer and then actively participated as a helper when needed. This was refreshing, to get to see the artists organize themselves completely, without my initiative. The children came in larger numbers than expected yet each day went smoothly and there were supplies and food enough for everyone. This event brought another arts group together for the single honorable purpose of instructing children in the arts so that they can come away a better person.
On Monday artists from Dandora gathered at PEFA Church to prepare for camp, which will officially start on Wednesday, August 3rd and run for four days, until Saturday. Dandora in an informal settlement close to Mathare and is the town dumping site, where all the garbage for the city is dumped, yet this garbage dump is also home to many people who live inside of it. This is the third arts camp that I have had the privilege and opportunity to be apart of, and the second camp that I have gotten to train artists so that they will feel prepared to teach the children. So far this has been the easiest one to prepare for since the artists of Dandora are taking charge and responsibility of the details of how this camp will be run and it is upon me to do the training, find ways to raise financial support, and support them myself by helping during the camp days. During the training we covered topics including how the camp will run, schedule, how to teach based on the 4 goals of education, spiritual, social, and artistic, how to write a lesson plan, ect. All were in line with how BuildaBridge structures the art camp model. We also discussed this year’s theme for camp, which is unity, and then the artists composed a song to teach the children the 3 concepts of unity which we will be teaching them: We Belong (day 1), Help one another (day 2), and We commit to stay (day 3). On the fourth day we will invite the community to join in and see presentations by each arts class!
I am very excited to see what happens in the next few days of camp. We have about 11 volunteers from Dandora participating and then additional volunteers from outside this community. Tomorrow will be a busy day for sure, but also very fun!
The second day is always better than the first. The first day people are learning the schedual, how things will run, and what to expect. We must have done something right because on Friday people eagerly fit into the system Rodgers and I had set into place. I walk in to YCT expecting that I would need to lead assembly and I found the dance and music class guys standing up front leading the children in the song they had written about unity in order to teach the children:
Chorus: Unity Unity is what we want, Unity Unity in order to grow
Unity Unity is what we want in order for us to grow
‘Cause we belong [‘Cause we belong], ‘Cause we belong [‘Cause we belong] (go back to chorus)
To Help each other [to help each other], To Help each other [to help each other] (go back to chorus)
We commit to stay, I commit to stay, you commit to stay, we commit to stay (go back to chorus)
Once the song and assembly was finished we tweaked the schedule slightly and had children go directly to classes and then asked volunteers from each class to take cups and chai to the classes so that the kids where not disrupted and so that chaos didn’t break out so much. Also lunch was pushed later in the afternoon, after classes and before closing assembly, so that the child’s attention wasn’t not broken or disrupted. I think our willingness to adjust and make changes based on how day 1 went was wise and made the second day go well. The classes continued strongly, mural painting began the painting process on the wall, beadwork taught the children how to make paper beads, music class began recording a song for the children, fashion did their “fashion walks”, and dance class learned a dance to present for Saturday’s celebration. Kibera news broadcast came to interview us based on the arts activities we were doing and we also had our own camera documenting the event so that we can promote this art camp through the camera. The second day was even more encouraging than the first!