The Aga Khan Schools in Kenya

Creativity Ignited through Community Service

25 June 2020

Creativity encourages self-expression and authenticity.

Creativity Ignited through Community Service
As we create, we begin to access our thoughts, beliefs, feelings and experiences. Creativity offers us permission to explore new ideas, different ways of thinking and problem-solve. It helps us to acknowledge and celebrate our own uniqueness and diversity, whilst offering us a source of fulfilment and pleasure.

Over the last few months there has been a resurgence of creative activities, with adults and children seeking joy and positivity as they steer themselves through the global pandemic of Covid-19. Worldwide many people have been using creative pursuits to fundraise, create awareness, uplift morale, and bring communities together. Whether it is through writing, learning a musical instrument, baking, dancing, artwork, tailoring outfits and accessories, performing live shows on social media channels or creating vlogs – all forms of creativity are an opportunity to think deeply, learn, create rather than consume and spread enjoyment.

In the same vein, many students at the Aga Khan Academy, Nairobi, have been stepping out of their comfort zones and challenging themselves with creative pursuits. Ruhi Chandaria, aged 15, decided to design and create face masks from scratch. Reflecting on why and what she learnt, Ruhi commented:
“During this time at home, I have been thankful for all the things that I have. The coronavirus has taught me to appreciate our luxuries, the abundance of products, our freedom and health. I decided that it was important to give back to those who care for us and so I took the initiative of making face masks for the labourers and house-helps in my household. I had to stretch beyond my comfort zone and learn creative skills that I had never used before, such as learning to stitch fabric with a sewing machine. It taught me so much about working with different materials, as well as the importance of patience.”

Kashvi Shah, age 14, decided to put her artistic talent to the test by creating posters to spread messages of prevention and safety. Speaking about the reasons behind her creations, Kashvi, said:
“The coronavirus is having a serious impact on the global economy and many cities have enforced strict rules on their citizens. It has affected households, businesses, financial institutions and markets all at the same time. Sadly, there has also been a huge amount of human suffering around the world. I decided to design some posters to help raise awareness about the coronavirus and what people should be doing to prevent its spread. Effective posters are eye-catching, and they help to communicate messages at a glance, with the help of a slogan, strong colours and appropriate fonts – which is what I have tried to incorporate in my poster.”

Elsewhere, grade 11 students have been participating in group discussions on the ways in which societies can take a more considered approach towards saving our planet. Drawing on array of simple actions, the students created ideas to help sustain our environment, from recycling, planting more trees and using less water to carpooling.

“Recycling saves energy. Recycling decreases emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change. Recycling conserves natural resources such as timber, water and minerals – helping to sustain the environment for future generations.

Planting trees is important. Plants cleanse the climate by absorbing carbon dioxide from the environment and releasing oxygen. The trees also cool the environment by absorbing heat from the sun through their leaves.

By using less water, we don’t need to treat and pump so much water. Less money can then be spent on energy and chemicals, and instead used on additional reservoirs or boreholes. Reducing the amount of energy used in the pumping of water reduces our carbon emissions, which contribute the greenhouse gases that lead to climate change.

Carpooling – post coronavirus – means a reduction in the number of cars on the road. This means less air pollution, noise pollution, carbon emission and greenhouse gas emissions. Carpooling is a direct step towards a cleaner and greener environment.”

The thoughtful and purposeful creativity of the younger generations - for the benefit of their communities - is in itself a symbol of hope. Oftentimes, the value of arts and creative thinking is overlooked, when, in fact, they have the potential to foster connectivity, dialogue and positive change. Lockdown and physical distancing measures have certainly ignited the spark of creativity; providing societies (and the students at AKES Academy, Nairobi) with a chance to recognise its value – now and moving forward.

Photos (top to bottom):
- Kashvi Sutaria, student at the Aga Khan Academy Nairobi - Senior School
- Ruhi Chandaria, student at the Aga Khan Academy Nairobi - Senior School