A new be­gin­ning

ChinAfrica - - Lifestyle -

Uweza Art Gallery is one of many ini­tia­tives of Uweza Foun­da­tion, a Kenyan NGO. In Swahili, means “ap­ti­tude” or “em­pow­er­ment.” In­deed, the foun­da­tion makes sure that all of its pro­grams are de­vel­oped or man­aged by Kenyans, and in par­tic­u­lar by in­hab­i­tants of Kib­era who are com­mit­ted to trans­form­ing their com­mu­nity. In Uweza, lo­cal artists have ac­cess to all the tools they need, right at their fin­ger­tips. This is a great op­por­tu­nity for Owinio and most lo­cal artists, for whom art ma­te­ri­als would be oth­er­wise hard to come by. In ad­di­tion, Owinio’s paint­ings can now be sold on lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional mar­kets us­ing the NGO’S own re­li­able sales network.

“By pro­vid­ing com­mu­nity mem­bers with the means to re­al­ize their ideas, we be­lieve the im­pact of our work will be sus­tain­able,” said Jen Sapitro, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor and co-founder of Uweza Foun­da­tion. Owinio, who is now in charge of the art pro­gram, could not agree more: “Thanks to Uweza, art has be­come a vi­able ca­reer choice for me.”

She is now among the gallery’s 12 res­i­dent artists. In ad­di­tion to de­sign­ing their own works, Owinio and her col­leagues also play the role of teach­ers and pro­mot­ers of Kib­era’s own brand of art. Ap­prox­i­mately 30 teens, aged 12 to 15, at­tend weekly classes at Uweza Foun­da­tion.

As the per­son in charge of the pro­gram, Owinio teaches the ba­sic prin­ci­ples of draw­ing to her stu­dents. “Few schools in Kib­era in­te­grate art classes into their cur­ricu­lum. Chil­dren with artis­tic tal­ent of­ten lack op­por­tu­ni­ties to de­velop and cul­ti­vate their gift. It’s a pity for them,” she lamented. “With Uweza, I know I can make a dif­fer­ence.”

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