Since 2013, Nyumbani (COGRI) has been involved with an amazing UK charity called Mobile Art School in Kenya (MASK). MASK is an arts program and school founded by Alla Tkachuk in the late 2000’s. When Tkachuk first traveled to Kenya over nine years ago to paint, she discovered the limited teaching of art in Kenyan schools. This discovery and her passion for art prompted her to found MASK to try and fill this artistic gap. Now MASK School for Creativity and Innovation trains youth in Kenya to be more creative and innovative. MASK believes that creativity and innovation in young people fosters better academic results, increased employability and stronger leadership and entrepreneurial skills.
MASK deploys many different programs in schools across Kenya. They have Creativity Clubs in primary schools, Creativity Courses for Entrepreneurship and Leadership in secondary schools, Art Camps during schools holidays and a course on Creativity for Peace-building and Extremism-prevention. These amazing programs have been implemented with great success in over 25 schools in Kenya.
Apart from their creativity programs, MASK also sponsors the MASK Prize, an annual creativity competition for young people under the age of 25 living in Africa and outside. The MASK Prize, endorsed by the Kenya Ministry of Education, is designed to create a platform for youth to foster and practice their creativity, while sharing with others. The competition has different categories such as visual art (segmented by age ranges), videos/music, and entrepreneurial ideas. There are up to 20 prizes, totaling approximately $3,500, that are aware to prizewinners, who are selected by a panel of art judges from leading art institutions in Kenya. The winners are awarded their prizes at an official ceremony in Nairobi. In addition, selected works are exhibited in the United Kingdom at the Saatchi Gallery, Royal Overseas League, University for the Creative Arts, and Turner Contemporary. In the past 4 years, 4,500 young people from Africa countries and up to 200 schools in Kenya have participated in the competition.
Since 2014, these participants have included some of our own youth at Nyumbani Children’s Home and Nyumbani Village. Two student artists at the Home found out about the MASK Contest in 2013 and since then youth from Nyumbani have been entering the contest each year. Sister Julie Mulvihill supports the Nyumbani (COGRI) Art Club at the Children’s Home in Nairobi. Throughout the year, the children partake in art classes and creativity programs, aimed at developing their artistic talents and creative intelligence in order to realize they can help them find employment in the future. This year, garage at the Home was renovated into an official Art Center so the students would have a permanent place for classes and their materials. Artwork created throughout the year by Nyumbani’s children is submitted to the MASK Contest each spring. Since our first year of involvement, one of Nyumbani’s programs have won a MASK prize each year! It is an amazing accomplishment and very exciting for the student artists, especially as they get to accept their award at the ceremony in Nairobi each summer.
MASK is an amazing program that has fostered much creativity within Nyumbani’s programs.
Thank you so much to MASK and Sister Julie for their continual support of creativity and art within Nyumbani!
Also check out last years MASK Award Ceremony video here to see Nyumbani artists accept their prize!