This summer I had the opportunity once again to join Kibera Girls Soccer Academy in Kibera, Kenya, as a Seeds for Hope Teaching Artist volunteer. I created and implemented a follow-up program to the program I taught last year, “Poetry for Life”. This year we called the program, “Creativity for Life”. “Creativity for life” was an expansion of the concepts that we started in “Poetry for Life”. While it kept a similar lay out—dialogue, community-building games, drama, writing, and free-style art-making, this year the girls were ready to take the next step. I found them generally to be bolder in their verbal expressions, more comfortable in using art as a means of expression, and over all enthusiastic to move forward with themes and art forms. Last year we used poetry as a means for the girls to respond to the December 07 to January 08 violence in Kenya, and to begin articulating images of their lives primary through writing. This year, we worked on poetry, but we shifted our focus to the use of art to empower us in general, then focused more on the use of drama to explore issues and share stories.
Certainly the girls are still grappling with the effects of violence in Kibera in general, but I found them eagerly initiating detailed discussions about a variety of issues that they deal with. While I facilitated general discussions and activities around the program themes of Creativity, leadership, and empowerment, they brought out detailed discussions through their processes in art-making and dialogue. They brought up themes like: giving back to their families, overcoming female genital mutilation, treating the environment responsibly, the pros and cons of having money. The girls continue to be enthusiastc about education and hopeful for their futures. They discussed with confidence and were endlessly willing to take risks. They were participating with such commitment that they were able to create a 20 minute performance sharing several skits, songs, and poems with just the last 1 ½ days of the program to do so. We shared the performance with the teachers of KGSA, other Seeds for Hope Volunteers, as well as volunteers from other organizations.
I certainly wouldn’t say that we or anyone from outside that school necessarily has something to do with the charisma and strength that these girls possess. These girls have become so capable because of their personal commitment to push toward their goals regardless of violence, poverty or losses. I will say however, that I know that they were proud to have a new witness to who they were and to have the chance to express themselves together in new and different ways.
Teaching Artist and SFH Volunteer