Generosity comes in many shapes and forms, but it could be argued that being generous with your time is the greatest form of giving. Especially when it is something you have the least of. Sixteen-year-old Wanjiru Ndegwa from Nairobi has to be careful with her time, as she has an almost eye-watering number of commitments. But, somehow, she has managed to ‘pay it forward’ after a stint with the Canon Academy Juniors showed her the possibilities of photography. Not just, as you might expect, in the photos she is able to capture, but in the way she can share her learnings with others.
“I do art and music. Actually, I play piano, electric guitar and violin, but the main focus in is piano. I’ve also done dance and drama and, of course, photography.” These are just the things she reels off of the top of her head, but she is also currently studying for exams and volunteers with an environmental awareness group. So, for Wanjiru, it was business as usual when she spotted a Canon Academy Juniors poster in her local art supplies store and jumped at the chance. “I thought “it looks so cool!” So, of course, I signed up and went to the classes,” she remembers. “And it was reallyfun, we learnt a lot and I made friends as well. It was really really cool.”
Inspired by her father’s love of photography, Wanjiru already knew her way around a camera and was self-taught to a point. The Canon Academy Juniors, however, took her to the next level, teaching her new techniques and taking her skills further. It occurred to Wanjiru that this experience was far from common and although her school actively encourages the arts as part of a rounded education, there are plenty of kids in her area who attend schools that don’t. “In our country we had this system called 8-4-4 [eight years of primary education followed by four years of secondary school and four years of college or university] and, unfortunately, in some schools the students don’t have the opportunity to learn anything on the creative side,” she explains. It gave her the idea to approach a local school where she and some friends from an environmental awareness group had planted trees in the past.