Julie Druker | Feb 25, 2016
From Street to School- photography show at Sydenham's Grace Hall
Anyone wanting a look at what has inspired two Kingstonians to turn their attention and fundraising efforts to the beauty and promise of Africa, specifically Kenya and its street children, should visit the Grace Centre in Sydenham for a show of photography titled “The Kenya Initiative: From Street to School”.
The purpose of the initiative is to assist young Kenyans with the funds they need to attend school and 100% of the proceeds of the show will be going towards that goal.
The Kenya Initiative was born out of a trip to Kenya by Irwin Streight and his family and on February 21, Streight and friend Raymond Vos gave a slide show and talk about the project at the Grace Centre.
In 2009 on their trip to Kenya, Streight and his family befriended two recent high school graduates, Caleb and Isaac Machira, who were working and making $1 /day with the hopes of attending university. They also met another Kenyan, John Nijane, who volunteers his time making monthly deliveries of food to local households in need and supporting a number of children living on the streets, for whom he was hoping to find housing and school funding.
Back in Kingston Streight had a conversation with his good friend Raymond Vos, owner of the Raymond Gallery, and the two dreamed up the The Kenya Initiative: From Street to School.
Vos recalled, “My heart broke when I heard Irwin’s stories and it was then that I realized that I had some resources, art pieces that I have tucked away, and that the money from their sales could be used to help meet the needs of the Kenyans that Irwin had met.”
The project was started out of that conversation and just six and a half years later, $100,000 has been raised to assist young Kenyans to attend school.
Together Vos and Streight traveled to Kenya in June 2013, meeting face to face with the people they are helping, not only to see how their fundraising dollars were being spent but to also to gather artwork made by Kenyan students to raise more funds in Kingston.
Raymond Vos said the main message he wants to get across to those who see the show is “how a small act of kindness can have enormous results and that when you invest in the lives of others, primarily through education, it will not only change one person's life but their entire family and extended family’s lives.”
The show is comprised of many gorgeous photographs that Vos took in Kenya back in 2013 and they include the Kenyan people and a wide variety of the animals they came across while on safari there. There are zebras, birds, hippos, lions, and much more, but most notable are the smiling faces of the youngsters, many of whom are now students thanks to the work of these two gentlemen and many generous donors over the years.
The show is not only an eye opener to life in Kenya but an opportunity for lovers of photography to support young Kenyans through this educational initiative. For more information visit www.galleryraymond.com
For visiting hours at the Grace hall go to www.sfcs.ca