By Yasmine Omar on her experience in Kenya with Jamii:
Going to Kenya as a young photographer changed me a lot. I had never experienced anything like this trip before. As a photographer it was my first time stepping into a whole new side of the world; This trip was a transformative experience that would shape both artistic vision and personal growth.
I never imagined myself going to Africa due to a lack of funds and opportunity, even though it was my motherland. Just taking my first international flight was so exciting. From the moment I arrived in Kenya, it felt like a new world. It wasn’t like what I’m used to – the sounds of people talking in their mother tongue so openly and proudly, something I only did at home in Toronto. I was amazed by how different things were. Although I was the farthest I’ve been from home, I was lucky to be with three incredible women – Isorine Marc, Aline Morales, and Takako Segawa– they always made me feel at home. I was fortunate to learn from them on this trip, and I’m grateful they are who I’ll remember when I look back at this unforgettable memory.
Exploring Kenya was a beautiful experience. One of my favorite moments was learning about the vibrant world of Kenyan art through muralist Douglas Smoki Kihiko. He gave us a tour around the city where we were able to check out different murals and learn the stories about the talented artists in the city. I loved genuinely connecting with people in Kenya with the help of Jamii. We were able to actually get to know artists and hear their stories, and as a storytelling photographer, it allowed me to capture things in Kenya in an honest and real way.
A highlight was showcasing my photography in a Kenyan cafe. At the showcase, my images were printed and framed by Kenyan artist Vinny, which was very special. I was grateful to be able to show my work on a whole different side of the world and see how it connected with people. It was a moment I would never forget as an artist.
The Rubiri School in Naivasha left an unforgettable mark. It was so beautiful to see Aline, Takako, and Isorine lead workshops with youth and teach them the arts and dance. After workshops, curios students learned to use my cameras, taking test shots, and I ended up capturing class photos for them as a memorable keepsake for my new friends.
Experiencing how art connects us was beautiful. I was inspired daily by talented artists and warm-hearted individuals I met in Kenya. These transformative weeks had a crazy impact on my journey, making the experience unforgettable. It was truly a dream come true.
A project supported by Canada Council for the Arts
📸Photos by Isorine Marc