Monday, October 7, 2019

Lalela Means Listen in Zulu

Annamaria on Monday

Two and a half years ago, when I visited Stan and Mette in Cape Town, they took me to an African contemporary art fair.  Many of the works we saw were quite marvelous.  One booth, however, struck a loud and lasting chord with me.

Staffed by a couple of adults and a group of teenagers, it was sponsored by a nonprofit organization called Lalela.  The art it was selling was printed on scarves and other fashion accessories--not the kind of thing that would have caught my eye, except for one special fact: those teenagers were the artists.  

Lalela is a non-profit founded by a New York woman.  The organization’s after school art programs help at-risk South African children, and through teaching them art, increases their self-confidence, imbues them with virtues of cooperation and tolerance, and enhances their notion of what the world has to offer them.

Here is the organization mission in its own words:

Through Lalela's arts curriculum and critical messaging component, we ignite imagination and teach children how to map and manifest their dreams and goals, launching the possibility of a different future for themselves and their communities.Everyday after-school, in the hours when children are most vulnerable to abuse of every kind, we work to break the barriers of challenge. We start early (age 6) in developing the art of imagination and we continue through grade 12 to connect the arts to everything important in a child's life, from core academics to critical life skills.Our role in arts education is to help blaze the trail in whole brain thinking with a proven path to innovation and new job creation. Our programs create permanent change with positive outlooks, community role models and the mindset for our students to design a more certain future for themselves and their communities.

Lalela takes images created by the children and prints them on scarves which they sell to raise money to support the organization's efforts.   Those kids who sold me scarves in the Cape Town Convention Centre were learning a lot of things: That something they had made could impress people, be valuable to perfect strangers.  They also practiced presenting themselves--as artists--to people they might never have otherwise met.

The scarves themselves are lovely.  If you have seen me at a book event in the past couple of years, you very likely saw me sporting one.

Photo by Janet Rudolph
Heaven only knows what I was talking about

I bought three that day, one as a gift and two for myself.  Details of my two from Cape Town:

I have since purchased another from the Lalela website.

Two more that I bought in the last 24 hours are on their way to me now.  How nice!  I get to buy myself beautiful presents and feel really good about it.

Speaking of gift-buying, I know that it isn't even Halloween yet, but why not do some of your holiday shopping by buying gifts that give two ways.  Your recipient gets a beautiful present, and a South African child gets a chance at a new lease on life.  

Please join me in supporting this sterling effort.  Here is where you can find out how:

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