Most of the children who attend our art workshops in Kenya live on the streets. They are called “Chokora” – The rubbish. As young as 6, they have been left or driven to the streets to fend for themselves.
Life on the streets of Nairobi is scary, the children are chased, beaten while they are sleeping, poisoned by the locals and too often, their lives are lost. The fight for survival is something no child should ever have to experience.
When Beyond the Orphanage began our partnership with Alfajiri Street kids, we knew that we couldn’t help every single child on the streets but we also knew that the art workshop was an imperative vehicle to encourage the children away from the streets by providing street kids with a welcoming and safe environment where they can express themselves artistically via the weekly art workshop at our drop-in centre.
In April 2018, our BTO Children in Kenya were delighted to have their artwork featured in an exhibition in the Nairobi National Museum. This year’s exhibition featured 60 artists and 90 artworks, made collaboratively or individually over the course of the last 12 months.
The children are not only connected by their creativity and talent but united through the art workshops themselves.
Lenore decided to fuse her love of art with her desire to help the thousands of vulnerable children living on the streets. Each week, 25 to 35 children, as young as 6, come to the workshops to paint and express themselves. Lenore decided to collate the artwork made in the program into an exhibition to offer an insight into street kids’ life experiences and show some of the work the children had created. This is the third Alfajiri Street Kids Art exhibition the BTO children have participated in.
The artwork was presented in a large space, filled with light. The artworks filled the room with colour, personality and vibrancy. The Museum itself invites visitors from all over the world to see the various displays of culture and history, with many guests commenting on the children’s immense talent and the quality of their work. They were touched by the children’s stories, as well as by their hopes for a brighter future. The money from the work sold will contribute to the growth of the program.
Quite a few of the children’s art was purchased by tourists visiting the gallery, many of them touched but the stories portrayed in the art. It is a great feeling for the children to know that their art will now travel outside of Kenya, in places like Holland, the United States and Ireland.
In just a few years, Alfajiri has helped more than 30 children reintegrate with their families. BTO & Alfajiri have supported even more children in attending primary, secondary, and vocational schooling. Our hope is that, with the development of a drop in centre to facilitate Afajiri’s workshops, we can help even more children off the streets and give them a future.