When I started Necessary Arts in Harlem, NY some twenty odd years ago and realized the power of the program, my dream was to take the work to Trinidad and Tobago, my home of origin. Once that dream was realized in 2002, I started dreaming of bringing the work to Africa, my Motherland. Almost two years ago that dream manifested in Kenya with me stepping on a plane on my own and uncertain of where I would end up and how I would be able continue the magic. With the help of several people Necessary Arts has stimulated minds through artistic expression from New York, USA, to Port of Spain, Trinidad and now to Nairobi, Kenya. The amazing support team started in Harlem with Vanessa Taylor and Maria Butler supporting every venture undertaken. Later in 2002, Lydia Ledgerwood and Penelope Spencer would take on the role of Directors as we formally registered the company as an NGO in Trinidad and Tobago. With the headquarters remaining in Trinidad the work has stretched its wings via Dubai, UAE to Kenya with consistent support from Allyson Holder, Suzzanne Pautler and Theresa Torien. I take the time to mention these compassionate women because nothing great is ever accomplished in a vacuum. What started off as a dream in my heart has now become a platform for others to realize their own dreams of reaching the youth of select communities to provide them with a venue of expression.
Life has not Altered My Dreams
by Naima Thompson
In July 2015 I was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer. I was shattered when my doctor nailed the harsh reality into my soul that I would not be able to travel to Kenya to continue the Reach the Unreachable program for the August visit. All the plans were in place and I could not imagine how I would disappoint all the children who were expecting the program to carry on. For the first time since I started Necessary Arts all the way back in the 90's it hit me that the company was actually an entity on its own. With Penelope Spencer continuing the leadership in Trinidad and now the program having to stand on its own in Kenya, I realized the blessing before me. I had clearly unfolded a dream that inspired others to believe in and to take up action for. The children of Kenya were not to be disappointed because Suzzanne Pautler and Allyson Holder held the torch with much vigor and a team of three daring teacher volunteers to carry on the mission. The August 2015 program included five site visits which resulted in an impressionable impact on not only the students but also the teacher volunteers. Their experiences have been shared in previous posts published on this blog, and continue to echo my sentiments of a dream unfolded for others to realize their own ambitions.
Today I sit in my humble flat in Dubai with thoughts of disappointment and gratitude. Disappointment , because yet again life denies me the chance to actively participate in the Reach the Unreachable program in Nairobi as I stay behind to continue my chemo therapy treatments toward wellness. Gratitude, because yet again there is a team of new volunteers led by Suzzane Pautler and Allyson Holder to manifest the mission. This time Paula Peters (and son Jannick), originally from Trinidad and currently teaching in India and LeJon Payne originally from the USA and currently teaching in the UAE, have volunteered to share their expertise with our students in Nairobi.
It is clear to me that although life has altered my circumstances, it has not altered my dream to provide a vehicle of expression for the youth in our Reach the Unreachable program in Africa. Therein lies an invaluable lesson for me, one for which I will always be humbled and forever appreciative.
Please continue to read the posts from the team in Nairobi as they take time to share their experiences of stimulating minds through artistic expression over the next few days.
Thanks for your time.