Collaboration with the Kenyan Youth Photo Program

In January 2019 we were approached by a photographer and teacher in Kenya who runs a photography school for youth in Nairobi. Justus Mulwa had his own program working with youth from his neighborhood, some of them refugees or child soldiers, and teaching them photography skills they could use as a way to heal or as a way to train for future employment. Similar to the way Youth in Focus Student Leaders work with Teaching Artists on headshot and event photography jobs, it looked like Justus’s group was doing the same thing with events and even weddings in Africa.

Knowing the power of photography and its positive impact on youth, we wanted to connect our two organizations, virtually pairing our students across the globe. Together, we came up with a list of words that we assigned youth in both programs and had them interpret those words, photographically. We chose words that would give the youth a lot of creative latitude to explore their own ideas and voice. Students in the Youth in Focus Winter 2019 Quarter incorporated this assignment into their digital and darkroom photography classes.

We are excited to report back that we recently received images back from Justus and the youth that he works with in Nairobi. The images on the left are from Kenya, the ones on the right, or in the middle, are from Youth in Focus.

Claire (Nairobi) and Sitara (Seattle) both chose the word “Peaceful”

Claire (Nairobi) and Sitara (Seattle) both chose the word “Peaceful”

Silvia (Nairobi) and Guisepi (Seattle) both had “Moments”

Silvia (Nairobi) and Guisepi (Seattle) both had “Moments”

Shanice (Nairobi) and Rhys (Seattle) shared the word “Powerful.”

Shanice (Nairobi) and Rhys (Seattle) shared the word “Powerful.”

This collaboration was a great way to connect with other artists, educators and most importantly, youth in different parts of the world. It makes us appreciate the way communication, and sharing of information, has become effortless, allowing us to work on creative projects like this with nearly anyone who has an internet connection. It’s been an exciting reminder that images have their own language and that we can find meaning in them, regardless of who took them or where.

Youth in Focus sends a BIG thank you to Justus and all of the youth he works with at Gizzim in Narobi, Africa.

Kiir (Nairobi), Aamina (Seattle), and Carl (Nairobi), “Inspiration.”

Kiir (Nairobi), Aamina (Seattle), and Carl (Nairobi), “Inspiration.”

Ashley Mouldon