‘L’chekuti’ are ‘children who look after the livestock in the pasture fields’. When they are not attending school or taking care of the livestock, Ol Malo encourages all children in the area aged between 4 and 10 years to come to the Sampiripiri Arts Workshop where they can paint and have fun. Over the years it has become clear that these children, who live in such a dry, brown landscape, love to paint with the cleanest, brightest primary colours.
To date more than 600 children have been kept healthy and happy due to this programme. The programme started with a handful of children in 1999, and now an average of 50 children attend the workshop every day, in rotation - over 300 children every week. On the day they attend the Ol Malo Sampiripiri Workshop each child is fed, receives a medical check-up, and goes home with a box of food to last until the following week. The Ol Malo Charitable Trust collects and preserves a number of the children’s paintings in the Ol Malo Arts Collection, thereby creating a record of their culture and environment through their own eyes. The Ol Malo Trust markets and sells a number of the works, to help raise money for the programme.
The children’s paintings have been exhibited in: Atlanta, U.S.A.; Kentucky, U.S.A.; New York, U.S.A.; Michigan, U.S.A.; Seattle, U.S.A.; Nairobi, Kenya; and are the focal decorations upon the walls of Zakudia, a funky cocktail bar / restaurant overlooking the Thames, next to the Tate Modern in London, England.
The familiar smell of milky tea floods through the dark, warm house. He opens his eyes. Covered in his small, red shuka, the sunlight shines on his face.. Lesunguni cannot put his shoes on fast enough. He dashes through the door, not even stopping to drink the tea.
Down the steep hill you can already see them in the distance. Flickers of red coming from all directions. Now the chattering of birds is taken over by the sound of the running children. Early morning air filled with excitement. As they run past me shouting ‘supa Julia’,’supa Julia’ their little hands reach for mine; hysterical giggles. We click our fingers in the Samburu hand-shake. Skipping on recycled tyre sandals the children rush until they reach Sampiripiri Arts Workshop. Lesunguni reaches for his favourite brush and disappears into a world of his own; the result, an astonishing portrayal of life in the bush through the eyes of a Samburu child.