Harambee Arts: Let's Pull Together TM partners with African grassroots programs to train local caregivers to provide art programs for vulnerable children in an environment that fosters their sense of joy, creativity and exuberance.
Gloria Simoneaux founded DrawBridge: An Arts Program for Homeless Children in 1989 and she served as Executive Director until December 31, 2007. Over the past ten years, she has been offering trainings in working with children in crisis in Europe and Africa. Since 2000, Ms. Simoneaux has made six trips to Africa where she set up an arts program for children affected by HIV/AIDS in Eritrea, worked with young members of the Samburu tribe in Northern Kenya (hosted by Ol Malo Trust), trained HIV positive community health care workers in Tanzania (hosted by REPSSI), worked with orphans and street children in Eastern Ghana and Zimbabwe, trained pre-school teachers and orphanage staff, as well as offering individual art therapy sessions to sexually abused orphans in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. She also taught expressive art and play therapy techniques at the University of Nairobi's Department of Psychology and at CONNECT, a family therapy institute in Zimbabwe.
In 2006, a collaboration between DrawBridge, the Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare and the National Gallery of Zimbabwe was initiated to provide ongoing expressive art groups to pediatric oncology patients and other critical care patients. The program is directed by Masimba Hwati, the National Gallery’s artist-in-residence and supervised by Gloria Simoneaux. Over the years DrawBridge also established international partnerships with groups in Afghanistan, Palestine, India and Mexico. In October 2005, Ms. Simoneaux presented a workshop at the European Art Therapy Association Conference on Crete and she was invited to present at the International Association for Art, Creativity and Therapy Conference in Berlin in September 2006.
Ms. Simoneaux attended the International AIDS Conference in Toronto in August 2006 to share her research. Many new partners were identified at the Conference. In August, 2008 she will present at the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City. Most recently, she shared her expertise with psychiatrists and psychologists in Havana, Cuba.
In September 2007, DrawBridge International evolved into a project separate from DrawBridge: An Arts Program for Homeless Children. The new project, Harambee Arts: Let's Pull Together TM is designed to train caregivers in sub-Saharan Africa in expressive art and play therapy techniques.
Harambee Arts is a project of Ethiopia Reads.
Ethiopia Reads works to create a reading culture in Ethiopia by connecting children with books. They do this by planting libraries for children, publishing children's books in English as well as local Ethiopian languages, and training adults to cultivate a love of reading. Ethiopia Reads operates Shola Children's Library, the first free library for children in Ethiopia. Last year, they recorded 60,000 visits from children aged 4-18.