In Tanzania, a Roman Catholic nun from California has blended her training as social worker and artist to help young people.
In Tanzania, a Roman Catholic nun from California has blended her training as social worker and artist to help young people. In a country where only a minority go to secondary school and jobs for young people are scarce, Sister Jean Pruitt's unique Arts House helps in its small way to reduce these problems.
SYNOPSIS: Nyumba ya Sanaa is Swahili for "Arts House".
Sister Jean Pruitt founded the house in 1973 with three people involved. today, the project gives employment to fifty. Sister Jean said she felt craft work would help young artists become self-reliant. She set up Nyumba ya Sanaa as a co-operative workplace with a commercial outlet to sell their wares. She says people without special skills can produce creative art. As she puts It: "We don't select people for skills. We select them because they are having problems in their lives". Once people join the project, they develop amazing skills.
Robino Ntilo earns a living well above Tanzania's minimum wage. Here he prepares a copper plate for etching. The co-operative is planning to make paper for members' silk-screening and etching projects.
These are school leaves in the silk-screening workshop. At first, Sister Jean financed Nyumba ya Sanaa herself by selling her own paintings. The Government provided rent-free premises which the co-operative has since bought with its commercial profits.
They prefer to work with local material sand use ideal from the historical tribes of Tanzania.
Calabash gourds are transformed into sculpture. And the artists use ivory, turtle bone, ebony and ostrich egg shells to make jewellery and carvings.
Artworks from Nyumba ya Sanaa have been exhibited all over the world. In 1976, two of its artists won prizes in the East German intergraphic show. They make a third of their total sales at an annual exhibition abroad. With sales booming, Nyumba plans to keep on expanding.