SMART, BEAUTIFUL AND IMPORTANT: Teaching art to AIDS-affected orphans in Africa’s largest slum

Charles DeSantis
New Academia Publishing, 2010
132 Pages, 30 color photos
ISBN 978-0-9828061-1-1 Paperback

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About the Author

Charles DeSantis has a passion for serving others that manifests itself both in his work as Associate Vice President and Chief Benefits Officer at Georgetown University and in his service on the Boards of Nyumbani, an organizations that serves children with HIV/AIDS in Kenya, Stepping Stones Growth Center, a non-profit organization serving the developmentally disabled in San rancisco, and ompass Partners, which promotes socially responsible entrepreneurship as a framework for engaging usiness students. Since 2007, DeSantis has been traveling to Nairobi, Kenya, developing and executing an Art Immersion program for the children at St. Aloysius of Gonzaga secondary school in the slum of Kibera.

About the book

In 2006, author Charles DeSantis was selected with 11 other Georgetown University faculty members to travel to Nairobi, Kenya, as part of a program called the Kenya Immersion Group. Once there, DeSantis and the others visited many aspects of the Kenyan culture, confronting the perils of HIV/AIDS, poverty, and the challenges of mixed tribal cultures living within one region. While in Nairobi, DeSantis visited a Jesuit school for AIDS orphans, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, located in Kibera, the largest slum on the African continent. In just one square mile, Kibera is home to more than one million people.

At St. Al’s, DeSantis and Associate Dean Margaret Halpin both realized that the children living in such abject poverty had no form of art curriculum whatsoever at their school. After inquiring with the administration about the desire for such a program, DeSantis and Halpin received encouragement, and so spent the next year developing an Art Immersion program to be delivered over a two-week period and piloted in 2008. The program was a huge success, and DeSantis was asked to return again in 2009 and 2010, implementing updated phases of the program. He also plans to create the means by which the program can be offered annually for Kibera students. This book chronicles the path of the Art Immersion program and its incredible impact on some of the most impoverished children of Kenya. Its contents is drawn on the blogs DeSantis kept in 2008 and 2009: