Changing perspectives with art therapy: hope for street kids in Kenya

May 18, 2017
Beyond the Orphanage

Beyond The Orphanage are delighted to announce that we have begun supporting a local partner working with street kids in Kenya. Kate Fewings, one of our Directors, recently checked-in with the program. Her reflections on the visit are unmistakably heartfelt, and a true mirror of just how special this project is.

“My name is Kate, and I’m one of the Directors at Beyond The Orphanage. In my recent travels to Kenya, I saw enormous potential to really change the lives of some incredible young people. I use the word “incredible” deliberately because the children continue to survive in the most unimaginable circumstances.”

Travelling in Kenya

“My experience of Kenya was confronting for many reasons. The circumstances in which these young people live is really just survival – they are in the most desperate circumstances. Yet there is a light in each one of them.

“Each one of the children I met has a fierce desire to find a way out; out of the poverty, out of the hunger and out of the cycle.

“I have so many memories from the trip that I could fill pages and pages with but I will pick one to share with you. It is of a group of teenage boys sitting in the mud and rubbish talking. They were in a group, as any boys anywhere in the world might be at school during lunch time. But apart from each other and the clothes on their backs, they had nothing else, nothing at all. Each one of them came to greet us and each one of them had a very basic and fundamental desire – food.  But not one of them asked for it, nor did they ask for anything else. They are the hungry, ragged and unaccepted children of Nairobi. They expect nothing in return for that title.”

Art therapy with Alfajiri Street Kids

Alfajiri Street Kids is a ground level organisation. They take the most at-risk and vulnerable children and, with them, starts their journey of self belief and trust through art as the initial medium.

The children end up in the Base (where rubbish is dumped; and where they live) through a variety of traumatic events. The starting point of their journey is from a place of extreme damage, and each has their individual challenge to overcome.

To enable the children to even contemplate the journey away from their current lens on life, they have to start believing in themselves and that is where Alfajiri’s art program is the foundation for new beginnings. Art is one of the most widely accepted forms of self and emotional expression. For these children it is something (and most of them think it is the only thing) that most of them are very good at. From a small flicker of believing there is something they can do, their journey begins.

A fearless and devoted woman!

“This blog post on Alfajiri would not be complete without reference to the founder, Lenore Boyd. A fearless and devoted woman if ever I have met one! Fearlessness and devotion are the exact attributes required to front up, day in and day out.

Lenore Boyd: working with street kids in Kenya

Lenore is living life at the coalface and the day to day reality of her life is vastly different to almost anyone I know. Her days encompass joyous and proud moments through to disappointment and sadness through to new beginnings and, sadly, endings.”

A moment to reflect

“When I visit our programs, it is impossible for me not to directly contrast my life against the circumstances of the children and people I meet. Sometimes that doesn’t sit so easily with me because it seems like such a lottery.

“I have an incredibly privileged life which has nothing at all to do with money or material possessions but everything to do with my deep (tried and tested!) familial and friend support network and the country in which I live.

The question I most ask myself is unanswerable. I can only reconcile it against or assuaged by the knowledge that BTO really is making a meaningful difference.

“Which leads me to end on a bright note. I feel privileged to have met the children, and Lenore. New beginnings are exciting and from the very small window I had into their world, it is full of opportunity and hope.”

Thank you for supporting us on this journey. We can’t wait to share more with you.

 

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