We, and our students, have accomplished so much in the short year and a half that Photo Start has been working in Kenya. We are incredibly proud of how much our kids have grown -- not only as aspiring photographers, but as people. Our students have developed confidence and leadership skills. They have learned communication tools and community building. They have become business savvy and creative, and we know they will only continue to improve. These kids come to us from the streets, with very little to their names, and they blossom. They learn as much as they can, as quickly as they can, and they put it all to good use.
Photo Start kids are using their photography skills to take incredible portrait shots, and their newly developed entrepreneurial skills to sell them back to their subjects. They have established themselves in the community, which has led them to be invited to photograph events and important community moments. Their work has been featured on the walls of galleries throughout Nairobi, and the sense of pride they get from those moments is irreplaceable. Their lives are changing by the day, and we are so happy to be a catalyst for it.
But don’t just take it from me. Take it from one of Photo Start’s first and most helpful volunteers in Kenya, Charles Gathingira:
Since I joined Photo Start, one thing I have strongly felt is the importance of this program. The kids are young and in need of the opportunity to be kids again. Photo Start gives them that. The kids don't have very basic things like a play area, so they have to make do on the road side. With Photo Start, they have had the opportunity to go on trips, exhibitions, and visits away from the slums. The highlight of the kids’ day is when they can play in the grass and just have fun being kids again -- free from worry and fear. Kids are meant to be kids, but in Kibera you must grow up very fast.
Photo Start is a key program, and desperately needed in the country right now. Its giving kids in the slums the opportunity to forget the worries surrounding them, and be kids again for that one moment. There are visitors coming all the time to the Inua Mimi Center, but they always leave. Photo Start has been consistent, and that has built hope in the children. They will always ask when we will be back for the next session, and that is special.
This week I got the opportunity to interact with one of the students, Victor. He has a very curious mind, despite his face, scarred from a burn. He is an amazing student, and eager to learn. He will constantly ask questions, and once you teach him something he is quick to go away and implement what he learned. Then he always comes back to check if he got it right. As long as there is something new to learn he will ensure no one else is touching his camera until he has nailed the concept for the day!
Victor is also quite enterprising. He has wanted to go to the Giraffe Center for a trip since he started as a student. He was persistent and kept asking David when we could go. He kept talking about it so much that everyone got excited about it. Now we are busy planning a trip to go see the giraffes! He has taken initiative, and is very determined to make things happen.
Victor is one example of the many Photo Start students who are learning to be curious, driven kids. They are so excited to be in this program, and so am I.