Today, Handicap International welcomed me into their Disability Center in Ifo Camp, where I hosted an Animation Workshop for the hearing impaired.
Since it was only officially organized yesterday morning, I wasn’t sure if it would be a big class, or even what age students to expect. Refusing to let oceans divide us, Melissa and I had a g-chat brainstorm, and thought of 3 potential plans for the day, just in case. (As you can see, we’ve learned from experience…!) We looked at what has been most successful thus far with our PVP group, and modeled the class after that. In general, even though the kids enjoy the process of making pixilations the best, the biggest ‘wow-factor’ has been with the cut-out animations, where we prep characters and shapes ahead of time, and have the group direct an animation with those elements. I especially wanted to incorporate clay into today’s class, because it is so tactile and so hands-on.
I was fortunate to work with five enthusiastic young men, who from the moment we shook hands, thanked me for coming to share and spend time with them. Together, we made a paper moon rise & its stars shine, in order to introduce basic movement. Then, a paper sun rose, and it’s clay sunbeams burst across the landscape, until some clouds came, and the sun set once more.
Everything was perfect really, and I could not have asked for a better workshop — they dove right in, asked fantastic questions, and exhibited amazing leadership & teamwork skills. And the appreciation for those brief 2 hours was overwhelming! After we played everything back, one student typed into his phone, “thank you for sharing with us a great idea”. After screening some of the work Melissa and I have done with Friends School, all of them asked if I would please come back tomorrow to do more with them.
It would seem that the hearing impaired here in Dadaab have fewer opportunities to participate in activities and events, due to the nature of certain events and since interpreters are few and far between. Thankfully, Paul Mugambi of Handicap International recognized immediately that animation as a visual art would be a perfect way to involve this specific group, and I am so very grateful that he encouraged me to organize this workshop. I hope to visit once more before my departure, and to encourage projects such as these to continue after I have left Dadaab.