“Any Human anywhere will blossom in a hundred unexpected talents and capacities simply by being given the opportunity to do so”
- Doris Lessing
Anno’s Africa's remit is to bring to underprivileged children in Sub Saharan Africa opportunities that are normally beyond the hopes and dreams of most children growing up in some of the most overpopulated and poorest slums in the world. The programme currently offers an alternative arts education to over 1,700 children across Africa, with classes in 6 major disciplines; Art, Creative Writing, Dance (including ballet) Drama, Music and Circus skills.
Each year the charity holds two monthly intensive workshops and teacher training programmes, headed by volunteer professional artists and performers from Europe who work alongside and offer advice and support to the 17 local trainers, many of whom have been with us since the charity's inception. These Kenyan teachers then continue to run the year round weekly Arts clubs which are overseen and funded by our German sister organization, One Fine Day. This combination of workshops and clubs guarantees the sustainability and growth of the arts programmes on many levels and gives the children and their young Kenyan trainers the vital continuity and encouragement that they need – and deserve.
The excitement and confidence that the workshops and follow on classes bring to the children as they discover their talents, not only give them huge pleasure but also promote a new found self esteem that will help them on their path to adult hood. And, given the lack of further education available to most of them, the courses provide these naturally gifted kids with an opportunity for future careers in the arts and a means to escape from the poverty trap in to which they have been born.
All of our projects are run in collaboration with existing African charities. shelters, orphanages or non-formal schools who receive little or no Government support so that we can maximize our access to the kids who need us most. And throughout the year Anno's Africa continues to recruit local talent as trainee teachers, classroom assistants and peer educators so that the projects can grow and expand to include an even greater number of needy children, not only in Nairobi and the other cities in Kenya where we work, but also other countries on the African Continent.
Finally, in order that every penny we raise goes directly to support the children, none of our European teachers are paid for their work. Only basic costs - economy fares and subsistence- based communal living - are funded by Anno's Africa. The teachers volunteer their services and give us of their precious time for free - for the which we and all the kids who participate, are extremely grateful..
Our Aim is to provide many benefits for the children who participate in the project, namely:-.
- To teach them practical crafts which will greatly enhance their chances of paid work in the future. with particularly talented children moving on to Advanced Anno’s Africa workshops where they can learn more specific skills.
- To push them to explore their individual human potential and creativity in a much broader sense; who they are, what they think and believe, what they want for their futures. This raising of their self awareness and what they are capable of achieving will impact on and enhance every aspect of their lives, giving them the confidence and self esteem so that they can become young adults who can develop their own thoughts and beliefs and know how to be self-starting, ingenious and entrepreneurial.
Tragically, it is brutal reality that a significant proportion of the children we work with will not live to adulthood, since the child mortality rate is so very high in the city slums. But in these circumstances it is of course the quality of life that counts - and having fun on the journey, however short it may be.
One of our children who died young was Victor Otieno who contracted Malaria and died six weeks after completing the art course in 2007. He was a hugely talented student. After the funeral his granny sent this message to ANNO'S AFRICA.
“Thank you. They were the happiest weeks of Victor’s life. At least he knew he was an artist before he died”
Sadly there have been other Victors since then but we hope all of them felt the joy and delight at having participated for a while in the great creative adventure.
Anno wrote a poem about his own artistic journey when he was 16. It seems a fitting memorial to all those children who don't make it through...
The journey is one never ending... The journey is all -
I'm part of it all, I'm the heart of it all - and it is my heart.
It gives me my air and my tears. I'm born of it. I'll die to it.
Its hand is always on me. Its words carry me..."
OUR WORK TO DATE
Since our inception in 2006 we have held workshops every year in various non-state funded schools in Nairobi, in the slums of Majengo, Mathare and Kibera. Last year we began projects in Nakuru, a town 4 hours north of Nairobi - and in Kikuyu, in the heart of the tea plantations just north of the capital. Each season ended in a performance and exhibition of the children's work where they showed off the skills they learnt to their parents/ guardians and members of their communities.
Above: Bee, Marie and Karen at The Nest orphanage in 2007.
Update: August 2016:
We have just completed a very successful pilot programme in Malawi working with 450 children – to read more about this, please head to our new Workshop Reports page and check out the photos in our Gallery!
Update: October 2015:
We are currently working with over 700 children in 3 slums school in Kibera and Mathare and a further 200 in Nakuru and Kikuyu. which brings the current number of kids participating in the programme to around 900.
We are also setting up a similar Arts programme in Malawi in June 2016. which will involve a further 400 children...
Please continue to help us to expand and support even more kids in the future!