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About Harambee Arts
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Founder Gloria Simoneaux

Founder Gloria Simoneaux is currently a Fulbright scholar affiliated with the Kenya Association of Professional Counseling in Nairobi, Kenya. She moved to Nairobi in September 2008 for one year to lecture and do research with KAPC.

View feature on Gloria in the KAPC Newsletter >>

"My work draws from three sources — love and respect for children, an understanding of the profound benefits of art and play as healing tools and a belief that everyone has something of value to contribute and everyone needs opportunities to give back.

"Throughout my life, I have felt compelled to reach out to neglected and disenfranchised children. Since age thirteen, when I volunteered in a pediatric hospital in New York City, I have used art to connect with the most disturbed and traumatized children. After high school, I traveled for twelve years and lived in isolated villages on mountaintops of various continents with pure hearted people. When I returned to the states, I created an arts program for children with the most hopeless cancer diagnoses at an experimental cancer center in San Francisco. The children taught me to listen and to sit with pain. In 1989 I initiated DrawBridge: An Arts Program for Homeless Children, which has successfully served more than 10,000 children in family shelters. I am currently in transition as my time as Executive Director at DrawBridge draws to an end and I turn my focus to more expansive and creative pursuits — working directly with children in Africa, training others and writing about the work that I have accomplished.

"I am in awe of the women and children struggling with unspeakable loss and suffering on the African continent and their ability to survive with grace and humor. I have witnessed their support of one another in the spirit of Harambee, a Swahili word meaning, "Let's pull together." For example, I have trained Zimbabwean grandmothers in rural villages who are pre-school teachers. They are teaching because all of the teachers are dead. The grandmothers also raise their orphaned grandchildren — up to twenty young children. They enthusiastically request training so that they can become the best teachers that they can be. They deserve our support.

"In addition to my professional life, I am an artist, a writer, a salsa dancer, a mother and an adventurer."

Founder Gloria Simoneaux photo

Founder Gloria Simoneaux
At Paniel School, located in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya

"They had never painted, but they used the colors magically…as though they had been waiting their entire life to pick up a brush and put all the colors together in magnificent designs. They never looked at their neighbor to compare, or asked for any direction and their eyes sparkled while they painted (actually their eyes always sparkled). It took my breath away."
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