Thursday, 20 October 2016

Nuha Foundation Blogging Contest

I've participated to the Nuha Foundation's Blogging Contest. My essay is called The Igniting Power of Imagination: Education Through the Arts .

By envisioning the school of the future, I sense that the traditional educational system might not be enough to prepare the youth to handle the future, if it doesn’t contemplate the Arts as an integrated part of the school curriculum. The reason is simple: the more the world progresses, diversified, well technologically connected and fast, the more education needs to respond to the need of creating community and re-define identities. A quality we all have and that needs to be revalued is imagination. It was Italian writer Italo Calvino that said ‘Imagination is like communicating with the soul of the world’.

Why imagination? Being a writer and an avid reader as well as being raised in a single-parent environment where I didn’t have many friends, where I was the only child, imagination has been my daily companion. It is deeply rooted within ourselves and it’s not difficult to consider it as the engine of our being human. It has its foundation in two words: What if.  It was William Shakespeare, in his comedy ‘As You Like It’, that underlined the importance of the word IF through the tirelessly inquisitive fool Touchstone, who keeps on questioning ‘what if?’. It is Touchstone himself who foresees what poet Adrienne Rich defined as a ‘revolutionary question, the virtue to uphold’.IF is important, not because of how things are, but how they could be. The free exercise of imagination shapes the world in which we live, it creates many possibilities and realities. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Anyone can leave a comment below the link's page and also share it on Facebook and Twitter.
There 's a 2000$ prize. in the eventuality I'll be the recipient of it, I will be able to set a permanent free writing workshop for marginalized youth in Nairobi and also help to build sustainable bookshelves in Nairobi Slums.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Writing Workshop in Kibera

Last week I had a presentation of my Writing Workshop with the children of Kibera (Katwekera section).

Kibera view

Kibera is the second largest slum in Africa. With an estimated population of one million people living within 2.5 square kilometres, it is one of the most densely populated areas in Sub-Saharan Africa. 
Youth in Kibera face particular challenges. Many grow up in deplorable living conditions, lacking basic infrastructure and services including safe water, proper housing and sanitation, health services, garbage collection, law enforcement and access to an education which could lift them out of poverty.
Lacking employment and hope and faced with extreme hardships, many youth are pushed to engage in risky activities such as prostitution, early marriage, and substance abuse; activities which also put them at greater risk for HIV/AIDS.

John Adoli the founder and director of the community centre in Katwekera, has given me the opportunity to come and teach children how to write stories, starting from theirs.  By creating this space he has provided a safe place for kids and youth to gather and spend their time involving them in educational and artistic activities.

Presenting the workshop I decided to use a simple variation of Renée Watson's Visual Poem which made possible for all the children to tell who they are in a more intimate way: so following Watson's example they had fun portraying themselves and telling what they like and who they are.

These are the children holding their works.

Even if I'm volounteering,  and I'm not always in the position to do so, I can see how kids would love to know more about books and writing. They like stories, who doesn't after all! The problem is that sometimes they don't have parents to tell them stories nor books to read. 
After the meeting they felt inspired and some came to me and said they wish to become writers! So I knew my work has been valued.

The idea is to let them write stories and make a small anthology out of their works to present in their community and also to share with other communities in Nairobi's slums to inspire many more youth.

Journal's to be
Today I bought for them excercise books to decorate and personalize (we will do in the manual art workshop on saturday) which will become their daily journal. If they practice keeping the journal, they will improve their writing skills and give space to their imagination.

The children are willing to write and hungry for books, and for this reason we are looking for books for kids from 7 to 16 years old which could be part of  library to organize in Kibera-Katwekera and also to provide them colors and paper to write. 
Ofte their vocabulary is poor due to the lack of books, without books they can't improve their reading and writing skills.

Sending books in Kenya might be expensive, but in countries like UK and USA (Googling is easy to find many options) there are many cargo services that send items for a reasonable price.

Who is willing to send books (writers, publishers, private) I can send in pvt the address. 
Who is willing to sponsor the two workshops you can donate here:

Workshop Children €200
Workshop Youth €200

Each donation will allow each child to have access to reading books, paper, pens, colors.
With this amount the books we will be able to purchase will be the ones available in Kenya.

For international author's books the price is high so we need a different approach:
- If you are an author and you'd like one of your book to reach Kibera-Kenya you can ask your publisher to send a donation copy on your behalf (i will provide the address);
- If you are an indie author let me know if you can give a discount on your books so that I might purchase directly from you  (Amazon has very expensive shipping rates to Kenya).

Once we receive the books, before setting up the community library, we will train kids and educators on how to catalog and keep books in order.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

FGM in Iran ... The Documenatry

Rayehe Mozafarian
Activist, Researcher and Artist Rayehe Mozafarian has directed, edited and produced a short video interviewing women in Sirik city (Province of Hormozgan), about Female Genital Mutilation. The video, which is part of the StopFGMIran campaign,  took four days to shoot and it happened in coincidence with a wedding ceremony: it was intentional to put the two events in the same video, the interviews and the wedding ceremony. While I was interviewing some midwives, I was invited to the wedding and it seemed a perfect combination to emphasize the importance of addressing FGM and the sufference of women who have undergone or will undergo the cut."
Rayehe explains the reason why the faces of the women interviewed are blurry: I didn't get permission so I had to obscure their faces. 
Rayehe is now planning to produce a longer documentary for which she already had permissions from the Government.  A work that will enlighten the presence of FGM in Iran. 

Rayehe has been working extensively in two different related campaigns: StopFGMIran and Stop Early Marriage in Iran.

She is the author of: The Ring which is intended to find and make light on child marriage and its causes (published in 2016), Razor and Tradition (Utopia Publisher, Paris 2013), Tigh o Sonnat (Razor and Tradition) (Takht Jamshid Publisher, Iran 2015). 
More about Rayehe's Work here.


The Ring