We believe Imagination, Activation, Collaboration, and Transformation (I ACT) is made possible through Ideas, Art, and Music (I AM). Through our global art exchange projects, Lalela Project seeks to inspire teachable moments for children affected by extreme poverty and to invite transformation for all who choose to join our efforts.
BRIEF HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
Art is a powerful universal language that allows us to break through cultural and communication barriers, and open our hearts and minds to the hopes and challenges that connect us all. This very notion is the seed of Lalela Project’s movement - exchanging ideas, art, and music as a way to listen to one another, and understand how to make OUR world better, together.
As global citizens, one of our most challenging, complex problems is extreme poverty – most especially its devastating effects on children. Extreme poverty deprives children of essential goods or services they need to survive, grow, and develop – food, shelter, water, education, and/or health care.¹ These deprivations greatly affect children’s mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual development – preventing them from reaching their full potential and ultimately perpetuating an endless cycle of poverty.¹
Most prominent in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, extreme poverty and its contributing factors and consequences can be fatal to children and their families. Their livelihoods are often threatened by diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and TB, armed conflict, and displacement.¹ Further, extreme poverty entrenches social, economic, and gender disparities, and undermines protective family environments.¹ In sum, extreme poverty makes it impossible for children to thrive.
Andrea Kerzner was motivated by the many organizations that work tirelessly to address the physical needs of children affected by extreme poverty, and decided to join them in an innovative way. She was inspired to complement their efforts with programs that focus on the mental, emotional, and spiritual health of children. Through collaboration, she believed, we can reach the “whole” child, both his/her physical AND mental self. By empowering a child to see possibilities in his or her future, we can break the cycle of extreme poverty, one child at a time.
Understanding the power of the arts to connect with children on an emotional, mental, and spiritual level, Andrea founded Lalela Project. The word “lalela”, which in Zulu means “to listen”, is at the heart of what Lalela Project does. By listening to children’s individual stories, and understanding the communities’ needs in which we work, Lalela Project works to create possibilities and positive change through the global exchange of ideas, art, and music.
1. UNICEF / UN Millennium Goals; http://www.unicef.org/mdg/poverty.html