Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Omigosh you guys! I've been waiting to make sure everything was "finalized"' before I posted. . .And, now it is!

On December 27th, I fly from Georgia to Amsterdam and then to Nairobi, Kenya for eleven days. I am helping my Dad to research some local and boarding-style high schools for some of the older students at the House of Hope Orphanage in Lodwar, Kenya. Lodwar is one of the most remote places in the world; I'm excited, nervous, and excited again about my upcoming visit.

Remember the beads I was talking about selling? We decided not to sell online to keep the overheard low. We wanted 100% of the purchase price to go towards the purchase of the playground, so any cost of listing of the beads online would have to be absorbed by my mom or me. Well, my mom sold the tar out of those beads. She single-handedly raised $3,000.00! The kids received their playground equipment about a week and a half ago. They got a full swing set, two slides, and a merry-go-round. Annnddd, one of the missionaries talked a local pilot -who helped deliver the playgrounds- into taking the kids up for a ride in his plane! Now, everyone wants to be a pilot when they grow up!

I'll be spending the most time with the kiddos in Lodwar. And, just like I mentioned before, many of the kids are so scarred by how difficult their early life has been that they have a hard time engaging in play. My parents say that while they are eager for positive adult attention, they don't know how to just "be" or "be silly." One of the reasons they are helping me to go, is that they hope I might come up with some fun, engaging activities for the kids to participate in.

They go to school everyday, but it is very academic and most of the kids are behind grade-level. As such, they don't do much art/craft activities in school. Most of the missionaries who have visited do Vacation Bible School-style crafts with the kids. My mom says they sort of enjoy these activities, but that they are very rinky-dink and do better with the five years olds than they do the twelve year olds.

The culture there is very much about equity. For holiday gifts, the managers of the orphanage encourage my parents to purchase the same gift for everyone. This means that a five year old boy should receive the same gift as a thirteen year old girl. My parents are the chief operators of the orphanage, but you have to work with the local culture as well. And, while my mom would love to purchase a different gift for every kid -specific to his/her taste- she doesn't want to cause a ruckus. I know this might seem really strange to you and me; but trust me, I've heard a lot of stories about this whole "equity" thing and what they are doing is best. It is a tenuous situation at times.

So, here is my question for you. What sorts of craft ideas do you have for this sort of diverse group? There are about thirty-five kids overall, and I will probably be expected to include to kids of the workers of the orphanage as well. So, that number may be closer to forty or even fifty. There are some restrictions on what I can do. Allow me to list them here.

1. My luggage must be less than 50lbs to keep my costs low. This has to be all of my clothes, toiletries, meds (Cipro, malaria medication, and my normal daily meds) for eleven days. I also must bring a lot of my own food as their will be many situations in which it would be a burden for my hosts to feed me. This means I'll be packing some protein bars and some packaged tuna items. Additionally, I must pack my own toilet paper and lots of hand sanitizer.

2. There is water, but it is gathered in a rain drum. So, while I have been told I can use some water for crafts, I obviously want to keep it minimal (as in I can paint but not tie-dye)

3. The kids already have crayons and have done basic crayon projects.

4. I may have to take a prop plane into Lodwar, and if this is the case, then I can only take ten lbs of gear with me (again clothing, food etc.). Although my dad says I could wear the same clothes the entire time and would still be cleaner than the locals when I leave.

So, what types of projects would you guys do in my shoes?! I'm totally overwhelmed!!


  1. I hope this doesn't sound silly, but when I think of something that will be fun for 5 to 12 year olds, will bring out some childhood joy, is lightweight and doesn't take much water I think of pudding painting!
    Seriously how about taking chocolate, vanilla and pistachio pudding packets and do some really hands on finger painting with the pudding. Great texture, low stress...might be a fun time to let loose.

  2. I'd suggest that instead of carrying stuff all the way, it might be easier and better, to use things already at hand there. I don't expect the kids there will have access to good art supplies once you have left, and any fun they have had with you will not necessarily translate into long time learning or interest. On the other hand, although challenging, it will be a learning experience for you to try to make art with local supplies - even if those are pounded leaves, powdered spices, newspapers and clay. Here is a link that might give you a few ideas - http://conversationcompiler.blogspot.com/ Indu works with slum children on Mumbai, so if you get in touch with her, she could probably give you some more useful tips. Good luck, and enjoy creating!

  3. Swati - Thank you so much for the great advice and the awesome link. Lodwar is located in the desert. I've been talking to people who have been about local materials, and have been told that there isn't much there other than thorns. lol. So, I'm not sure about using local items. . . But, I'm going to look into some Andy Goldsworthy style projects.

  4. I'm thinking printmaking on fabric using native found objects. Inks and paints go a long way and can be watered down. Muslin.
    Make banners.