“I am in full sunshine now” — Robert Browning
I can honestly say that I have never felt so happy, so at peace, so full of delight in my entire life. I met the kids a few days ago, and it was immediate love. The big ones used their best English on me, the little ones wanted to sit close and hold my hands. They shared some of their stories with me, and their lives… their painful pasts, ah, break my heart. But they also shared their hopes for the future, and that they want to go to University and lead a good life. A lot of the big kids take care of younger siblings, and a lot of them have been raised by older siblings rather than parents. We walked through their villages, which are right near the art studio. Their villages are completely different than the neighborhood I’m living in, and very poor. But the people were so warm, welcoming, and curious. It was very odd for them to see a white girl walking through their village; apparently it’s rather uncommon for that to happen in that part of town. One girl took me to her home, and I met her sister and niece. It was so sweet– in Kinyarwanda, they don’t have a word for “niece” or “nephew”, they just call the child their baby.
This is Raymond, the man I’ll be working with at the studio. He is the one and only employee, and the kids just love him. He mostly teaches them about drawing and painting, and then on Saturdays they do a little photography workshop. There’s a few photos above of him looking at photos with little Queenie in her camera.
As we rambled through the village, I stopped to take photos of a lot of the people. It was so sweet that this old couple let me photograph them, as they were preparing their beans. So much character in those hands and faces.
This is Mama Joshua. The mom will take on the name of one of her children (still haven’t figured out if it’s the oldest child, but I know Joshua is her oldest son). She sits outside of the studio and takes sewing for people. She is so fast and skilled– I saw her hem about 15 pairs of pants in just a few hours.
They told me the kinds of art lessons they want from me this month– photography lighting, video editing, audio, and then singing lessons (hahaha, they should be the ones giving ME singing lessons!), and a few other things. I can teach basic skills in all of these, so it’s pretty perfect for everyone involved. I showed them the music video from the Denver Street School, and they SO want to make one also. Adorable. Love it. Done.
With permission, I think I’ll also share some of their stories and experiences. Gosh, they grabbed my heart in an instant and have me wrapped around their little fingers. Those big eyes and round faces… seriously, how do you resist?
A few of the photos of the village kids I took the other day. These aren’t any of the TEOH Project students, just the hoards that were following me saying “Bité mizungu!”
And a few of the surrounding areas:
Also, as a side note, I am curious to see what my readers are interested in hearing about. I have had a request for photos of my house and neighborhood, of the studio, etc. Anything else? Feedback is so appreciated, so I don’t feel like I’m just rambling on!
Alright friends, until next time,