A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Onani, an exhibition of work made by people who travelled with Tearfund on Creative trips to Malawi and Zambia. I’m thrilled to be able to share a guest post by Carolyn Orchard, who travelled to Zambia, and whose work is part of the exhibition.
Carolyn is 20 years old, and comes from Exeter. She’s currently studying psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London.
I decided to go travelling with Tearfund just over a year ago at the start of my gap year. Having studied photography and art at school, I had found a real passion for creativity, so when I saw that Tearfund were doing a creative trip I knew it was perfect for me. I wasn’t keen on working all year and fancied an adventure! My work needed some new surroundings and I wanted to share my skills with those less fortunate than I.
On the trip in Kitwe in the Copperbelt, Zambia, my team set out to teach art and other creative activities in schools and orphanages; the first of Tearfund’s creative trips in partnership with Scripture Union. Some of these included painting, drawing, photography and jewellery making. While they were taking part in the lessons, we were able to capture some photographs of them and the surroundings. Another member of the team is a painter so she took sketches and then created paintings at home. I was blown away by the reception of the classes; I honestly did not expect our work to be appreciated to that extent.
We didn’t actually manage to bring much of the children’s artwork back to the UK because they seemed so happy at the thought of being able to keep their work. This definitely showed us that these art classes were a luxury they were not used to. The classes produced some really impressive work, even though they do not have access to the resources needed for art, they are very talented artists.
The idea of creative trips is fantastic because not only are creative classes therapeutic and fun for the kids, but also it bridges language barriers that may otherwise become an issue. On top of this, the creative classes gave the children a chance to take part in something not on their curriculum because of the lack of resources.
One particular school showed me the reality of poverty in Zambia. This was a small school named ‘Yande’ in a compound in Kitwe. This small, dark school building was previously a brothel with an old bar still in one of the classrooms with a sign above saying ‘remember to count your change’. The shear sizes of the classes shocked me, myself and another team member taught a class of 180 pupils, taking 90 each!
The sad reality is that the majority of these pupils will not even be able to go to secondary school. It was here that I took the photograph I have entitled ‘Cage’, the child in the image is standing up to get a better look at the classroom because it was so full. When I took this picture it struck me how prison like the classroom was, this child may never escape that compound because of poverty. This image is included as one of my pieces in the Onani exhibition.
Another of my photographs in the exhibition is entitled ‘Yande’ which offers a little more hope. This class was in the same school but with a younger age group. We brought over a roll of paper that stretched from one end of the long classroom to the other, the children painted it with their own designs and names to bring some brightness and life to the room. They didn’t speak any English but it was irrelevant because they simply enjoyed painting and creating.
I had such a good experience in Zambia; it has definitely challenged me to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Something we should all do. If you get the chance to come and see the exhibition in the Salvation Army International head quarters, it is worth a view to see the results of the creative trips to Zambia and Malawi. If you are a creative type and want to share your gifts with others consider a Tearfund creative trip to make full use of your talent.