Slovaks help Kenyans in crisis

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The recent conflict in Kenya has caught the attention of the Slovak media. More than 800 Kenyans have died and tens of thousands have fled their homes since a disputed election in December. The brutal nature of the crisis is leading Slovak non-governmental organizations to work together to help. They've come up with a novel idea; an auction of paintings by Kenyan artists.

Four Slovak nongovernmental organisations - People in Peril, Erko, Integra and Slovak Catholic Charity organised a public fund-raising campaign. Tatiana Zilkova, People in peril coordinator for projects in Kenya, explains how they organized the sale of Kenyan artists’ paintings.

“That is how we came to the idea of selling artwork in Slovakia. Initially we sold original pictures from Kenyan young artists who are between 16 and 26 years of age. The reactions of the Slovak public were amazing. Within a few days most of these originals were sold and we are still selling reproductions. The money that are raised from these beneficiary sales are going directly to the artists. Eighty percents of the value of the paintings are sent directly to the artist and twenty percent go to Mucuru Slum Development Program that runs local gallery and besides that they organize sport and art programs for local youth, income generating activities, drug and HIV/AIDS prevention programs and other activities.”

All of the original Kenyan artist's paintings were sold. People are willing to help and want to help personally. This possibility for example is offered by the international student organizations AIESEC and project GLEN (Global Education Networks of Young Europeans). Daniel attended an internship with AIESEC.

“I didn’t want to start my career straight after studying at the university. So in my last year I decided to go for a traineeship. I got the chance and an offer from Africa, particularly from Nigeria. I spent there one year. At the beginning the conditions were not like I expected. My biggest cultural shock was that during the day and during the night the temperature was very high and sometimes we ran out of water. We couldn’t use power for basic stuff. I couldn’t shave my face and other basic things. The poverty was very huge so there wasn’t any middle class there."

Zuzana spent six months in northern Uganda with the same organisation.

“I worked there as a volunteer so I did everything that they asked for and what they needed. So for example I was teaching English in a vocational center, in an adult learning center. I worked with widows, children, wives and my motivation was… because I was interested in development aid before. My dissertation focuses on Development cooperation in European Union so I wanted to experience it.”