ABA'S FREE RANGE KIDS
At Aba House we work with a village full of awesome kids. For many years we only worked with adult artists and the kids watched from the other side of the wall. One day we invited them in and that small gesture changed their lives and ours.
African children are brought up to be seen and not heard and then they become adults who want to fit in and do what everyone else does. In school they are expected to accept whatever they are told. At Aba House these kids are free to question and explore . To be outrageously creative and to open themselves up to all the possibilities that creative thinking offers.
We have created a safe, nurturing atmosphere where everyone is listened to. We sing and dance, eat chicken and rice and learn to be self-sufficient. And we learn whatever our visitors want to teach us. We can make charcoal from corn cobs - do silk screen - creative writing and illustrating - mosaics - pottery - quilting -embroidery - have painted murals and have had classes in science - English - math and computer literacy.
Many children in Africa beg. Our kids have been taught a work ethic and know that if you want something, you have to earn it. Volunteers have taught them to make paper from sugar cane leaves and journals from the paper. We sell the journals and the money is used to pay school fees and related expenses.
The program has taken on a life of its own and each success suggests the next step. The age of the children who come to Aba House varies from toddlers who are wandering in and an older group who have been with us for many years. Michael and Enoch, two of our older students have recently worked with an adult candy maker who came seeking a design. Each of the boys designed a candy box and they are now “in business.” This is our ultimate goal: to help the young people of Nungua find pride in accomplishment and a means to earn some money. We always emphasize education and whether or not the Aba House kids are lifelong artists, isn’t the point. What matters is that we have taught them to think creatively and to be proud of themselves.