Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kenya Sketch Journal #8

So let me type a little bit about visiting the slums where the children that attend this school live. I know the standard response would be that it was an "eye-opening experience," which it certainly was, though I don't know how much that tells you about the experience. I guess you could say the same about my whole trip. In general it was humbling and at times I felt like a naive rich American invading people's homes... It was also a very tiring experience. I was actually reminded in a strange way of that passage in "A Christmas Carol" where the Ghost of Christmas Present guides Scrooge through the "surplus population" of the world to experience the conditions of the poor and the sick.

Our guide through the slums in Kisumu was Alex, who is the principal at Arise N' Shine. We were also accompanied by many of the children and one teacher (who is drawn above, she is actually very kind and has a warm smile, despite the stern look I gave her in the drawing). Alex knows many of the care-takers for the children that attend the school and he introduced us to them and helped to tell us their stories and history. This is one of the things that Alex does for his job. He talks to the care-takers so that he can keep a record of where each child is coming from, what happened to their parents, where they are living now and so on. Many of their stories were similar. The child's parents died or is dying of AIDS or some other disease, or they simply don't have the resources to take care of their child, so they are looked after by a relative or friend, who often already have children of their own to take care of.

The homes that we visited were very tiny, with dirt floors, mud walls, tin roofs, and no lights. It was usually very hot and dark sitting inside them, and a bit claustrophobic. Often there would be several kids sleeping on a dirt-floor bed that is barely big enough for one person. Outside there is trash littered everywhere, as well as the stench that comes with it. There is no real regard for sanitation, though usually the people we visited kept the inside of their homes as tidy as possible.

Most of the adults we met seemed tired to me (just like I already was). They didn't seem to express much happiness or sadness as they invited us into their homes and told us their stories (I suppose it's also a bit wierd to have foreign strangers visiting and listening to your life story). It felt like most people have simply resigned to the conditions they live in, and are surviving day to day. In contrast to this, the children we saw in the slums were full of excitement and smiles (that may sound overly dramatic or sentimental, but it really was like this! Part of it is because we are white, and they don't see many white guys in the slums, but in general the kids had more energy too). They followed us crazy white guys and they were eager to practice their english by constantly asking us "how are you?" This is why it was so good to see that Arise N' Shine is already taking care of some of these children by providing them with food for each day of school and probably more importantly, an education that will hopefully help them create a better life outside of the slums, even if the school is only able to help a small fraction of children in need. This also takes some of the burden off of the care-takers, helping them to take care of their own needs and the needs of their children more easily.

There you have it, I think I have maybe one or two pages left. Sorry for the inconsistent posts, I know I keep taking more and more time between each one... If anyone is interested to hear more details about what it's like over there and the work the organization is doing from another young white American guy's perspective, check out Matt's "Kenya Diaries" and videos on the Hope For The Child website (Matt also helped Sasha and I get set up for our trip):

*EDIT: the "Kenya Diaries" link no longer works, but this is the main website for the organization:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kenya Sketch Journal #7

On the left are four of the kids that live with the Menyas, and on the right are drawings that the girls made! Everyone else was looking up when I was drawing them, but Rehema was too interested in watching me draw, so that is a drawing of her watching me draw that same drawing of her... Whoa, trippy! The three girls attend Arise & Shine Nursery School, while Moses is a little older and is attending a different school (Arise & Shine only has classes up to 1st grade so far, though they are planning on adding a 2nd grade class next year). The kids were shy at first, but they eventually warmed up a little to Sasha and I, and they were always laughing and giggling at us, probably because we were funny white guys from America. :) We also read some picture books with them and they enjoyed singing us songs from school. Rehema also liked showing us her hula-hooping skills! All of the kids we met were very excited and happy to be at school, and they were eager to learn and interact with their teachers. Once we saw where most of the kids live in the slums, we could understand why they liked being at school so much.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kenya Sketch Journal #6

Like I said, Jashon and Mary Menya are the founders of the school, and they also take care of a few orphaned children who live with them in their house. I will post some drawings of those children and drawings made by them shortly... The Menyas were very happy to see us and gave us such a warm welcome! Throughout our stay, Jashon really wanted to make sure that Sasha and I could see with our own eyes that the school was making a positive impact on these orphaned and abandoned children from the slums who would not otherwise recieve proper care or education, so that we could come back to the US and tell people about what we saw. This is one of the reasons I wanted to post these drawings and notes on my blog. Hopefully I'm being true to my word and telling y'all how it is over there...

Kenya Sketch Journal (+ Video) #5

We arrived in Kisumu! We stayed with Jashon and Mary Menya, the founders of the Arise & Shine Nursery School, which is on their property. One of the first things Sasha and I noticed is that the classrooms are very small and there is not a lot space to add more classrooms as the kids advance to higher grades. This is why Hope for the Child has purchased a large plot of land where they hope to build more spacious and nicer facilities. Here is a video that Sasha took to give you a better look:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kenya Sketch Journal (+ Photo...) #4

We weren't able to go on a safari, so in Nairobi we went to an "Elephant Orphanage" and other zoo-like places to see various animals. I know she's not really smiling in my drawing, but I'm pretty sure Isabelle really liked seeing the animals! She was exhausted by the end though...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kenya Sketch Journal #3

^^Check out Denzel's drawings!^^

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Kenya Sketch Journal #2

We heard a lot about the corruption that occurs throughout the government, so I guess Kenyans are used to this kind of stuff. Also the driving there was crazy! Very aggressive and scary

Kenya "Sketch Journal"

I took a trip to Kenya with my friend Sasha recently (Sasha is a guy. sorry for the parentheses but everyone who doesn't know him assumes that it's a girl's name...), and I thought it might be interesting to keep a sort of "sketch journal" with drawings and notes about my experiences there. I started out with a bit more notes and storytelling, but ended up drawing a lot of quick portraits of people I met there, because that seems to be the easiest thing for me to go to when I'm drawing... Anyway, here is the first post. The drawings are pretty quick and rough, nothing very polished or pretty. Also, forgive me for my ugly handwriting, hopefully you'll be able to read it...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Updated Animation! Updated Life! aaaaaaaaaaaah!

Finally, a blog post! I told myself I was going to finish this darn animation before I left for Kenya (or at least post it, I don't know if I can really call it "finished," there are still some issues and tweaks that could be made...), so here it is! I'm leaving tomorrow so this is cutting it close...

This also seems to be eerily good timing since I just got laid off from my job yesterday... So I will need work on some new demo reel material... So please, critique away! I'm thinking the first half is stronger than the second half after he falls, so I might just cut the second part out for my demo reel if I don't get to improving it.

*EDIT: I replaced the original video for this post with the newest version as a youtube link.  Many tweaks and improvements were made (maybe I was afraid someone might look back and think that ugly thing was the most final version or something, though I'll probably eventually cringe at this one too...).