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Making Zines with Kids from Kenya’s Slums

Social change through small-scale DIY publishing.

by Ingrid Kesa
Oct 20 2015, 1:10pm

All images courtesy of Zinester

Home to more than a million people, Kibera is Africa’s largest urban slum. Issues like poverty, overcrowding, and a lack of access to sanitation and clean water are pervasive. It’s thought that only 20% of Kibera has electricity, which means there’s pretty much no internet. Up until now, the slum’s residents haven’t really had a chance to get their stories out there to the rest of the world. A new social initiative called Zinester is aiming to change that through pretty humble means: staples, scissors and a DIY spirit.

Founded by Australian photographer Harrison Thane (you might even recall seeing some of his work for VICE) and researcher, writer and creative director Tom Grass, Zinester teaches Kibera’s kids how to make and publish their own publications. In July this year, Zinester conducted their first series of workshops at the Wings of Life Children’s Centre, where they gave the street kids a bunch of magazines to cut up, collage and scribble on. Over the course of the workshops, the kids were taught how to use a camera and conduct interviews with people in their community, opening up a new world of storytelling and a way to write their own narratives. The kids were given complete creative control, making for unseen and honest glimpses into their day-to-day lives.

Zinester from Harrison Thane on Vimeo.

The idea is that the zines are turned into digital copies and sent to international printers to be distributed to independent book stores globally. The first issue, the product of the July workshops, is called Chocolate City and features profiles on locals, illustrations, photos and writing. Chocolate City is available to pledgers on Zinester’s Kickstarter, which Thane and Grass have set up to raise around $6,000. The funds will allow them to continue to work with Kibera’s kids and to establish new workshops (the first were self-funded). Next up Zinester want to take their self publishing program to the Samburu women in northern Kenya, who have survived gender-based violence and banned men from their village to provide a safe space for other females who have gone through abuse.

Check out some of the spreads from Chocolate City below:

You can find out more about Zinester here and donate to their Kickstarter here.

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