At Vox, we believe in the power of education. One of the programs Vox supports is the Little Artist School in Johannesburg, South Africa. We recently caught up with Edward Selematsela, the founder and director.
Vox: Tell us about the Little Artist School.
Edward: The Little Artist School helps kids. It’s all about adults who are willing to give life-skills to the future generation, believing that (in the long run) giving an education, is better than giving bread. We use art to improve the lives of children. 90% of the children we mentor are orphan kids from shelters or children’s homes. We currently have 55 kids in our program.
Vox: How did the Little Artist School start?
Edward: In 1994, I started working with some street kids while I was in college studying art and computer graphics. These kids were roaming the streets of Johannesburg, sniffing glue, breaking into people’s cars and going in and out of prison. Many came from divorced or abused at homes. Some had parents in prison and others had lost their parents to HIV/ AIDS. We managed to get them to a shelter and plugged them into local schools around Johannesburg. The kids were wild because they had never experienced parental love. I soon realized that they had nothing to do after school, so I started giving them art classes. A year later I graduated college and founded the Little Artist School.
In 1998, I visited the Watercolor Society of South Africa and asked if anyone there would like to help me teach the kids art. Dulcie Robinson responded. Dulcie had more experience than me and she helped to shape up the Little Artists School. She organized exhibitions for the kids. Dulcie passed away in 2010 after battling with cancer for a short period. Every year we host an exhibition at Norscott Manor (Johannesburg) in memory of her. Dulcie helped many artists to realize their dreams —including myself and many more.
Vox: What is your role at The LIttle Artist School?
Edward: I’m a teacher, motivator, and the engine of the Little Artists. I connect them with colleges, universities and I help them look for jobs. My heart is help kids graduate from high school and further their studies.
Vox: What’s your motivation?
Edward: To help these kids see that there is a good life out there if they work hard. We help them concentrate on the good rather than the bad. We work to help them rehabilitate their minds—to understand that they are special, like nobody else. Our ultimate goal is to restore hope.
Vox: What’s the most significant thing that happened?
Edward: Watching the kids win competitions, seeing some of them graduate from colleges, get jobs and become professional artists. In 2006, I travelled with the students to London after they had won the Deutsche Bank Art Competition.
Vox: What’s your dream for the school?
Edward: To see more people coming in to help improve the lives of others, not only kids, but all those in need of help. Also, to have a building that belongs to Little Artists, where we can have a gallery, working space for professional artists, space for printing and motivational hall. If we can have more than 5000 people that are helped by this school, my dreams will be fulfilled.
Vox has partnered with Edward and the School to secure art supply kits for the students. If you would like to make a $99 donation to help underwrite an art supply kit, click the donate button below. You will be redirected to Paypal to complete the process (a Paypal account is not required).