Kakuma Refugee Camp is located in north-west Kenya. The camp was established in 1992 and is home to over 190,000 refugees from 21 nationalities. There are over 108,000 children living in the camp, including more than 90,000 primary and secondary school aged children. There are 26 primary schools and seven secondary schools in Kakuma Refugee Camp.
In 2015 UK-based artist Lisa Milroy initiated Hands On Art Workshops with the support of Vodafone Foundation (UK registered charity 1089625) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. Hands On Art Workshops contributes to Vodafone Foundation and UNHCR’s Instant Network Schools partnered digital learning programme, which has connected over 86,000 refugee students to digital education. Hands On Art Workshops offers practical art workshops to primary and secondary school students in Kakuma Refugee Camp, which Lisa delivers from London through live interactive video conference sessions. Lisa travels to Kakuma annually to deliver Hands On Art Workshops, working with UNHCR Kakuma. UK-based artist Stephanie Nebbia joined Hands On Art Workshops in 2020 as Deputy Director.
“Hands On Art Workshops aims to open up and facilitate dialogue and creative exchange between artists and students in Kakuma Refugee Camp,” Lisa explains. “Students are encouraged to develop their imaginative thinking and creative skills through the workshops, engaging with drawing, painting, performance, object-making, writing and aspects of functional design.”
Hands On Art Workshops supports two educational initiatives, the Hands On Art Workshops Scholarship, which provides full secondary school tuition for a Hands On student; and the Hands On Gateway Bursary, offering a secondary school graduate in Kakuma Refugee Camp a salary for one year in the role of Hands On Coach to lead Hands On-related activities in Kakuma. The Hands On Gateway Bursary is also supported by Slade Short Courses at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL. Hands On Art Workshops also receives generous support from Colart with donations of art materials.
Hands On Art Workshops works in partnership with UNHCR, Vodafone Foundation, Colart, Windle International Kenya and Slade School of Fine Art, UCL.
Mobile Phone Exchange Art Workshops
When schools in Kenya closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic in spring 2020, students in Kakuma Refugee Camp weren’t able to access the Instant Network Schools’ video conference facilities in Kakuma schools. Although Lisa was unable to engage with students through video conference, she found a new way to deliver Hands On Art Workshops. Liaising through WhatsApp with Madam Sabella Muthoni, Headmistress at Angelina Jolie Primary School in Kakuma and Joy Maraka, Education Assistant, UNHCR Kakuma, Lisa has been able to connect with Hands On students to offer art workshops through mobile phones. Lisa texts art workshop guidelines to Joy Maraka and Madam Muthoni, who relay them to students through mobile phone messaging. Lisa receives photos of the students’ artwork back through phone messaging and responds with feedback and support. The Hands On Art Workshops programme led by the Hands On Coach has also been running in community learning centers to engage a wide group of students during the pandemic.
Visit the Hands On Workshops Artists Photographs page to read the captions for the photographs on this page, and to find out more.