Painting with an Educational Purpose

I take education seriously, very seriously. Not as a pass time or a rite of passage, but as a tool used to expand my possibilities in life.

This past month, after weeks of planning and deliberating, we set out to paint the library of Kabete Juvenile Centre. This is an institution that seeks to rehabilitate young offenders who have been found guilty of certain crimes by the courts, but are too young to go to jail. So they are sent to this correctional facility.

My friends and I have been here three times, and each time we came to paint the classrooms. Now as an “organization” (Coins for Christmas https://www.facebook.com/coinsforchristmas?fref=ts ), we have made it our core business to contribute to the lives of people by painting dilapidated institutions. Bearing in mind that some of these institutions do not have the finances to cater for the day to day needs and at the same time renovate their structures.

This time round, we bought books, a football and biscuits to give the boys after we were done with painting. This simple act left me much more hollow than before. As much as our action of painting the library was noble and well needed, the need for education was even more. The look on the principal’s face when he saw the exercise books broke my heart. He was happy but I was distressed.

The boys do not come to rehab just to have their behaviours corrected, they also gain from the education given and the vocational training received. They are determined to get out of rehab more educated and able to fend for themselves. You see, these kids receive elementary education, so naturally, you would expect them to go to high school after their three year term, but the future is not always certain. Their parents could be so poor such that they would not afford an education, or some of them could have families that have shunned them and subsequently refuse to fund their education.

The boys vocational training covers building and construction, tailoring, painting and catering just to name a few. This is good always enough to get them started, then hard work and discipline takes them forward in the right direction. Now back to why I was distressed as the principal was happy, I realized that they needed more educational materials, they needed more text books, exercise books, and simple stationery such as pens and pencils, which we had brought but was clearly not enough. I thought of the text books I had left at home and it broke my heart.

Education is at the heart of development. It gives you bargaining power, it expands your way of thinking and it gives you a different perspective towards life. The thing is, most of us take it for granted because we have probably had it “easy”. While there are children out there who long for a good education, a book or simply a pen.

I love to put my amateur painting skills to work, but now in addition to that I am deliberately going to increase the level of literacy of children in schools. This will mean putting my little resources into buying books and stationery for children, starting with my friends at Kabete Juvenile Centre. If you are interested in helping out in any way possible, check out our Facebook page “Coins for Christmas” or email me on ashmutiso05@gmail.com.

You only have one life to live, live it in way that you will leave a great legacy. :)


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