“Sometimes real superheroes live in the hearts of small children fighting big battles”
A quick happy and bright smile is the first thing one notices about Nifa Siema. Nifa is a 10 year old girl who attends the camera classes held at one of our partner programs, Inua Mimi Rescue Centre (IMRC). Nifa is the younger of two siblings living with their grandmother in the greater Kibra slums. She has an older sister, Florence. They both found their way to IMRC when Pascalia Nduku aka Shosh, the IMRC founder, rescued them from an unhealthy home situation. The two children were only released back to family when their grandmother came forward and offered to take care of both of them.
When we first met with Nifa, she was very withdrawn and non-communicative. This, coupled with the fact that she exhibits traits of a special needs child, made it a bit of a challenge interacting with the Photo Start team, who were unfamiliar to her. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines special needs as “any of various difficulties (such as a physical, emotional, behavioral, or learning disability or impairment) that causes an individual to require additional or specialized services or accommodations (such as in education or recreation)”
Fast forward about two weeks and Nifa was a changed girl. Once she got used to the team and fell in love with the camera, there was no stopping her. The beauty of the camera classes is that we don’t have to really use words to communicate, and this is what we did to connect with Nifa. By sharing cameras and working in groups, the other kids gradually accepted her even as she accepted them, and she slowly started integrating with them.
Formerly a withdrawn and quiet child, Nifa is now confident and outgoing, with a very brilliant smile firmly on her face. She is among the first kids to rush out and assist unload the gear every day when the team arrives at IMRC. And Shosh firmly believes that the camera classes have really made a difference and helped Nifa come out of her shell.
Nifa’s is just one story, mirrored in hundreds of children, whose lives have been impacted by the Photo Start program. Each child has a story, and we intend to tell them all.