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The Art Exchange at Jordan Acres School

Posted in AIDS Orphans, Kenya, Maine schools, Student Art exchange by Lynn Ouellette on 06/11/2010

Well, I am shamefully late at doing this post since the art exchange and show at Jordan Acres took place 2 weeks ago. I have not posted yet partially because I really fell down on my job as photographer that night. But truthfully, the reason for this was that  I got so engaged with talking with people that I just put my camera down. I really want to thank Sharon McCormack (whose picture I wish I had taken)  once again not only for doing amazing art with the children for me to bring to Kenya, but also for working on such a fun way for us to exchange the art and have a multimedia show  that night. In addition to the poster you see in the picture above we had a table with a  Maasai blanket and carvings and other such things that could be touched,  and all the Kenyan children’s art work, some was displayed and  what  wasn’t displayed was mounted and placed in a notebook as a permanent collection for the school to keep along with the poster. We also had a slide show accompanied by some great background tribal African music. The man and boy in the picture below spent much of their time watching the slide show and I thoroughly enjoyed watching them since  the little boy got newly very excited about each and every safari animal that came on the screen.

I was delighted that many children and parents asked lots of questions and  enjoyed looking at the Kenyan students’ art. Some of JA students were thrilled when they recognized their own art in the photos taken in Kenya.  I could tell from the questions that the students asked about the Maasai, and the animals, life in Kenya and other topics that they had really learned a lot about Kenya in the course of this project. So the Kenyan students art and the poster of all the smiling faces of Nyumbani have been on display at the school for everyone to see and enjoy since that night. For me it’s a really heartwarming thought to think of JA students smiling back and having an opportunity to browse through all the pieces of art and warm wishes that were sent to them.

Once again, thank you very much (asante sana) to all the JA students and to Sharon McCormack! Maybe we can do this again the next time I go to Kenya……

Kenyan Art Exchange in Brooksville, Maine

Posted in AIDS Orphans, Maine schools, Nyumbani, Student Art exchange by Lynn Ouellette on 05/01/2010

Stopping a moment on my "Brooksville tour" with Bec Poole and Maggie

Brooksville scene

Last weekend I headed up the coast to Brooksville, a really lovely small town and home to Brooksville Elementary School where 7th and 8th graders participated in the art exchange with the kids in Kenya from  the Nyumbani Children’s Home and Nyumbani Village. It was my opportunity to personally see the display of the children’s art that I had brought back from Kenya on exhibit with some batik work that the Brooksville students had done. The batiks were inspired by African animals and were beautifully hung amongst the Kenyan children’s art. 



It was truly a wonderful feeling to see them all hug together (this was a typo that I did find when I proofed the post,  but feeling truly touched by seeing the artwork of all children hung together, I decided to leave it). Beside the art from Kenya was a picture of each child who had created the art and Bec Poole, the art teacher, had done a nice job of explaining what the art exchange was all about and what her students had learned from it. 

Art from Kenya and photos of Nyumbani artists

Art from Kenya and artists from Nyumbani Children's Home


Art from Kenya and photos of artists from Nyumbani Village

Though the turn out was small, probably related to school vacation week, I enjoyed presenting a slide show and talking about my trip on Friday evening. Both Bec and I hope that we can find a way to keep this exchange going. I will send photos of the display back to Kenya with Lloydie Zaiser this summer so that the children there can see that their art made it to the US and was proudly displayed! I also enjoyed the opportunity to take in the lovely town of Brooksville on Saturday and just relax in the company of my friend Bec. 

Update on the Maine Kenyan Student Art Exchange

Posted in AIDS Orphans, Maine schools, Nyumbani, Student Art exchange by Lynn Ouellette on 04/18/2010

It’s hard to believe that we have been back from Kenya for a month and a half– in some ways it feels like yesterday, in some ways like years. Fortunately the sharing of stories and photos has created and opportunity to relive the trip again and again. In e-mailing with Lloydie recently I referred to it as “the trip that keeps on giving” because my mind goes back to it so frequently and I have so many ideas about future things that I would like to do.

However, I still have another important piece of unfinished business with this trip– the final piece of the Art Exchange with the students here in Maine. I have been in contact with both the art teachers and each of us have something a little different planned. I was delighted to hear that Sharon McCormack at Jordan Acres had “blog week” for her art students and that they spent time enjoying my blog. I hear they especially enjoyed the Kenyan kids dancing videos.


On Friday April 23rd I am headed up to Brooksville (a little over 2 1/2 hours up the coast)  to visit in person. I sent the Kenyan kids art ahead of time  and it is currently displayed in the public library along with some additional African themed art that the students did. I hear from Bec that it is a beautiful display! When in Brooksville I will do a public presentatation to students and families about the trip to Kenya and about the AIDS orphans and what we learned about them and their lives. And of course I will also talk about the art exchange. I am planning to bring some “show and tell”  items like a Maasai blanket, a basket from the village, etc  as well as lots of pictures. Most of all I am really looking forward to meeting the artists!

More about the exchange at Jordan Acres later…….

The Art Exchange: A preview of art and greetings from Kenya to Maine

Posted in AIDS Orphans, Maine schools, Student Art exchange by Lynn Ouellette on 02/23/2010

The real art exchange will be completed when  I am able to give the art made by the children at Nyumbani Children’s Home and Nyumbani Village to the students at Jordan Acres and Brooksville Elemenatary Schools,  but I wanted to show some examples of the art done by the kids in Kenya to everyone on the blog.  Though I have said it before, I need to say again how appreciative all of the kids and everyone else I encountered  in Kenya were for the art and the supplies that were sent to them. I want to say thank you to Sharon MCormack and her students at Jordan Acres in Brunswick, Maine and to Bec Poole and her students in Brooksville, Maine.  I also want to thank Dick Blick Art Materials ( www.dickblick.com) for donating some of the art supplies that were used and left for the kids in Kenya along with the supplies donated by the 2 schools. It was great fun for the kids in Kenya to use materials that they never had used before to create art and I was thrilled to leave them with supplies that they will continue to use. For the students in Maine, your efforts really inspired a lot of good will.

At the children’s home, I worked with most of the children to create art (all except the very energetic St. Paul Miki Preschool kids whose faces I painted instead of doing an art project). With the first 2 groups which were of mixed ages, I told them that they were free to do whatever kind of art they wanted with all of the materials, but  if they wanted a suggestion,  I knew that the kids in Maine might be especially  interested in learning about them and their lives in Kenya.  Below are some of the examples that they created: 











The kids at the Children’s home that worked with me in the last group worked on books to send back to the Brooksville Elementary School that were just like the books that had been sent to them. It was perfect that the students in Brooksville had the wonderful idea of sending blank books just like the ones that they had made. I worked with a group of the same age kids at the Children’s Home who seemed excited to have this special project saved for them. They all did a terrific job on the work that they created and stayed beyond the time that we had set up so that they could finish them. They also spent a lot of time looking at the art  books about life in Brooksville and I could tell that they were very interested in them. They all got to keep a book from the Brooksville students.  Here are a few examples of their work:




I also worked on art projects with the orphans in Nyumbani Village where I hung art from Jordan Acres students in their homes on the Kenyan red stone walls and in the school classrooms where all the students will enjoy them. The group I worked with there were students in the equivalent of junior high school who were in a club that had been developed by a prior volunteer called the “Young Ambassadors.” I worked with Lloydie to tell them about the art from Maine and to ask them to make art for me to bring back that would reflect how what they would like to say about their country as “Young Ambassadors”. I was amazed at the art they did, not only because they were so enthusiastic and diligent,  but also because they chose to include a lot of knowledge about their country and had a lot of pride in sharing it. And as the last example shows, they were real embassadors by welcoming people to  “Please pay a visit to Kenya!”  Here are a couple of their posters:


I  look forward to sharing ALL  of the art work with the students at both schools and being able to share some more about my experience in Kenya. Thanks to all who participated in this project in Maine and also my fellow travelers, most especially Lloydie for helping me set up and work on the projects in Kenya….and of course to all the Kenyan artists!

For the students: About your art!

Posted in AIDS Orphans, Maine schools, Student Art exchange by Lynn Ouellette on 02/04/2010

Jordan Acres and Brooksville students, I want to tell you about what is happening with your art! I have completed one part of the art exchange. I brought all the prints, the “snake” books, and many of the drawings with me to Nyumbani Village when I was there over the last few days. The orphans there live in tiny, very simple, stone houses in groups of 10 with a grandmother. There houses have plain brick walls and no windows. They were very happy to have your art to hang on their walls.

Shosho looking at JA art hung in Nyumbani village home

I also brought your art to the school in the village and hung it on the walls in the classrooms. They are just starting to have art in school so their teacher was very excited that they will be able to learn from you and very impressed with the work you have done. All the children were very curious and interested in looking at what you sent for them. They did not have any supplies so the teacher and the students were really excited to have all the different kinds of supplies sent by you and donated by Blick Art Supplies. I worked with a group of students to make art work to bring back to you that will tell you about Kenya. They had never worked with paint, pastels, or watercolor pencils before and rarely get to use colored markers so they had a lot of fun and they did a really great job. Everyone told me again and again to thank you and tell you how much it meant to them that you had done this for them and what a special gift it was for them to receive your hand-made art with all the friendly greetings. I will try to insert some photos here later but now working on the computer with really slow internet in Kenya isn’t letting me do that. I’ll also have many awesome pictures to show you when I return.

Nyumbani Village orphans working on artwork to send to Maine

On Saturday I will be sharing the rest of the Jordan Acres artwork with the orphans at the Children’s Home and will be doing art projects with them. I will also share the Brooksville art with the AB group at the Children’s Home. That group is the same age as the Brooksville students and will really appreciate the work that you have done. What’s really great is that you have sent just the right amount of blanks books so that they will be able use them for their project.

I am really looking forward to doing this on Saturday. I’m sure that the kids in the Nyumbani orphanage will be just as grateful as the kids at the village for your art, your willingness to share and your caring. I will tell you more after Saturday and later I will tell you more about what life is like for the kids I have met in Kenya. It’s very different from life for kids in the U.S. and I think you would be really surprised and interested to hear about it.

Jordan Acres artists send colorful “Jambo’s” to Kenyan orphans!

Posted in AIDS Orphans, Maine schools, Student Art exchange by Lynn Ouellette on 01/24/2010


"Jambo!" Beautiful prints by JA artists

I received the art work from the Jordan Acres and I looked at it briefly a few days ago when I first got it and was thrilled with what I saw. Today I spent more time looking at every piece and all I can say is “WOW!!” All of you at Jordan Acres did an amazing job on the art work to send to the orphans in Kenya! And all the art work was organized in beautiful little books or packages tied with ribbons.

JA students art work

And what a nice surprise to get a whole box of donated art supplies. I was also touched to find tucked away in the box a  group of yarn dolls made by Mia Denison–thanks for making that extra effort, Mia! There are some children who I will be visiting outside of the orphanage who are very poor and I will be very happy to take those with me as a special gift on my visits to see those children.

JA donated supplies and the little yarn dolls

I was also very surprised and impressed to see how many of the artists had learned some Swahili words. I know I had put a few in my earlier post telling you about Africa and Kenya, but there were so many more things that you learned how to say that I ever imagined I would see on your art. Just like the kids in Brooksville who are sending friendly greetings, the JA art is full of these, too.


There are so many things I could say about this art work: It’s so colorful, there’s a wonderful mixture of different kinds of art (paintings, drawings, prints), there are books put together in really creative ways and fun ways (examples below). I love the little books that make long colorful snakes and the one that has all the faces with little mouths that open saying “Jambo.” I wish that I could include everyone’s work on the blog, but of course that’s not possible since there are so many different pieces. I have created a little gallery below with some examples from every kind of art and every group of students. I am sure that the children in Kenya will get the message reflected in the student’s art below:



Thank you JA artists and Mrs. McCormack!!


Brooksville student artists share Maine life with Nyumbani orphans

Posted in AIDS Orphans, Student Art exchange by Lynn Ouellette on 01/21/2010



Last Friday evening I got to spend time with Bec Poole, my artist friend and also the art teacher at Brooksville Elementary School,  and had the pleasure of getting the art projects that the 7th and 8th graders have made for the children of Nyumbani in Kenya. I have to say that I am thrilled with what I received! The art work is a series of fold out books with slip covers, all of which tell the story of  the student artist and his or her life in Brooksville. I love that they show snow, lobsters, moose, the seasons and tell a story of living in Maine that will be shared with kids in Kenya who have no experience of these things. I also love that they are rich with  friendly and warm greetings  and clearly reach across the world with those feelings. An added bonus was the little blank fold out books and covers that were included and that I hopefully will be able to use with the same age kids in Kenya to bring back to Brooksville with greetings in the other direction from across the world.  

Thank you to all the artists and to Bec Poole for creating the art and bringing this all together!!


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Sneak Preview: Thank You Jordan Acres Artists!

Posted in AIDS Orphans, Maine schools, Student Art exchange by Lynn Ouellette on 01/08/2010

"Jambo Jina langu ni Holly. " Hello My name is Holly.

I’m so excited to have received some scanned examples of art that the students at Jordan Acres had made for me to take to Kenya. Mrs McCormack e-mailed me some scans that she had made of a few of their pieces and they are terrific! I will be meeting with her next week to get the actual art work but couldn’t wait to share some of what I have gotten to see already. What is particularly exciting to me is that I can tell that the students have learned something about Kenya and were really speaking to the kids in Kenya when they were creating their work. I loved seeing the Swahili words! I’m really excited to all of the actual pieces next Friday. But here are some examples for everyone to enjoy!


"Twiga's" Giraffes

Beautiful Sunrise

"Jambo!!!" Hello!!!

What a beautiful giraffe!

The Art Exchange: Update and THANK YOU Maine Schools

Posted in AIDS Orphans, Student Art exchange by Lynn Ouellette on 12/19/2009

I have received e-mails from both of the art teachers involved with student art exchange updating me on how the work is coming. Sharon McCormack wrote and told me that the art would be done by the end of the week and that there is a “whole variety of art that is being offered up to you” She described a variety of wonderful projects that the students have worked on and will be finished, organized and packed away for me the end of the week. I won’t do any descriptions until I get to see them myself (like to keep it a surprise)  and I will post some examples on the blog. She will be scanning some of the art work to post on her own Jordan acres website and will be sending the files to as well. She added that she was mindful of keeping the projects light so as keep room to also pack some additional supplies such as watercolor pencils and other things that I can bring. I will be happy to bring the art which I can’t wait to see, but also look forward to being able to stock an “art closet” between my donated supplies from Blick Art and the ones that Jordan Acres students have packed for me.

I also heard from Bec Poole at Brookesville Elementary School this week. In addition to describing to me the art her 7th and 8th grade students have been working on, which sounds incredible, she also described the enormous impact that viewing a DVD about Nyumbani , AIDS orphans and the conditions in the Kibera slum has had upon them. She wrote “The whole school is excited about this project”. She also asked that I keep in mind when I am in Kenya what other ways they might be involved in supporting the orphanage because that has become very important to them, with her own comment “Isn’t this exciting!” That it is! If there were anything that I could have hoped for in imagining an art exchange like this, it was that young people here would be affected by this and would develop a connection to what’s happening to kids across the world. I hoped it might happen when I returned with art and photos and video from the orphans in Kenya. I didn’t expect it would happen so soon. What a gift! I will surely find a way to keep this wonderful bond growing.

Thank you Maine students; you have already exceeded my hopes and expectations. I can’t wait to see your art work and especially I can’t wait to share it and the good will that goes with it in Kenya.

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