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In the words of the late, Nelson Mandela, “Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead”
Last week, we had a moment to pause and celebrate the journey of Uweza Foundation and its impact in the community through the Art Program. The Uweza 10th Art-Versary was a celebration of 10 years of life-changing impact and transformation of youth in Kibera. Supporters, partners and friends of Uweza had an evening to connect, paint, and purchase and bid for paintings created by Uweza artists. The event was hosted by Kofisi Africa at Kofisi 9 Secret Garden, 9West, in Westlands.
The story of the Uweza Foundation dates back to 2008. On realizing the untapped potential and talent among youth in Kibera, it was time to act! -begin to empower children and youth in Kibera, to pursue a path to a better future through the discovery and development of their talents and abilities. Over the years, Uweza Foundation has designed community programs informed by the needs expressed by Kibera community members, and our work evolves in response to both formal and informal feedback collected from program participants and their parents/guardians.
The Uweza Art Gallery is one of the five programs under the Uweza Foundation banner. The art program which started in a small space in Kibera, has grown to become one of the biggest and most popular galleries in Kibera, occupying a maisonette in Kibera’s Olympic Estate. The gallery has continued to provide the youth in Kibera with a safe space to create and occupy their time with meaningful activities. Since 2011, at least 50 artists have utilized this resource, and its popularity has grown within and beyond Kibera. Currently, up to 19 artists are making a living from the sale of their work. For some, art supports their families by meeting their basic living expenses. Several other artists have been able to pay their high school and university fees through art sales.
The gallery works together with the artists in marketing and positioning the creative pieces to different markets through our online shop, exhibitions, auctions and art events. Uweza artwork has been shipped to every corner of the globe, giving artists much needed exposure. Locally, Kofisi boasts at least 100 Uweza paintings spread across its 6 centres in Nairobi. This collaboration has boosted Uweza art sales exponentially. This has also strengthened the Uweza Art Gallery’s reputation as a centre that fosters and nurtures creative talent in Kibera.
Uweza Art Gallery also hosts art classes for kids in Kibera. The program nurtures creativity while engaging young minds throughout weekends and school holidays. The activities present an opportunity to learn fundamental drawing and painting skills. It also fosters connections among participants due to its social nature that allows the artists to create networks, share new knowledge, and seek peer to peer support. Each class hosts 25-30 young members of the community.
Our commitment to continue investing in youth in Kibera continues in the years ahead.
By Silvia Njambi, Development Manager, Uweza Foundation