Recently I was asked to join the Creative Advisory Board of an exciting organization called Pencils For Africa (PFA) founded in 2013 by Karim Ajania. The point of Pencils for Africa is to connect middle school children in America to their peer group in Africa, building a community, exchanging ideas, and allowing US students to develop a deeper understanding of the African continent. This is to be achieved by several means, including the delivery of used pencils (a powerful communication tool and often a scarce resource) to children in places like Nangida Village, Kenya, with whom PFA have links.
The PFA Editorial Team consists of 5th – 8th graders from California, including Gloria, an 8th grader who is Editor-in-Chief (see the link below to watch Gloria’s video presentation on behalf of the Editorial Team to the Board of Directors). The Editorial Team are interviewing all members of the Creative Advisory Board and I will be interviewed by Chelsea so you will see that interview in a future newsletter. During the past year interviews have also been conducted with educators, environmentalists, humanitarian workers and artists who either are based on the African continent or who work with pencils in either an artistic or an educational capacity. One such interview was conducted with Human Rights Watch researcher and human rights lawyer, Olivier Bercault, about his work with children in war and conflict zones. Mr Bercault gave pencils & paper to children who were survivors of the genocide in Sudan and they drew graphic depictions of their experiences. The PFA Editorial Team learned how powerful and effective simple pencil drawings can be and as a result, Mr. Bercault’s work has become a major impetus for the PFA program.
Although PFA has only been in existence for 1 year, they have exciting plans for the future. I look forward to working with them and hope that my experience as an artist in Africa will be of help in the advancement of their worthwhile and challenging goals.
Until next time…