A new beginning
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.”