Who we are
The Meraki Project was born out of a refusal to remain silent while other people in our world suffer. The conflict in South Sudan has now been raging for years and as the statistics grew, so did our restlessness. We launched our pilot project on November 5th, 2018, where we took a trip to a Ugandan refugee camp to figure out the best way we could partner with locals to empower children impacted by this war.
Through art classes with some of the students, we saw how a creative outlet was a fun and safe way to explore their many skills. We quickly realized that arts and crafts were something that they loved and were remarkably good at. Locals started to tell us of how art was an integral part of their culture and expressed concerns that their children were losing their artistic abilities through war and displacement. Things like painting, pottery and weaving used to be popular to the South Sudanese, but their nation is slowly losing those who are capable of doing it.
We took a step back and looked at the resources and people already present within the host communities in the camp. It made us think: we buy things every day. We are constantly spending our money on coffee and clothes, Spotify and Apple. We subscribe and shop. What if we could could create a space where the kids were free to learn culturally relevant artistic skills while also creating products that could keep the very same students where they are needed most: school. What if we could empower adult South Sudanese refugees? Partner with schools to open doors for workshops?
And so, we did. For four years we have partnered with South Sudanese teachers to put kids through our arts-to-education program. We have successfully graduated 116 students and currently have another 110 in our program.
For four years we have held a safe and creative space for kids to dance, paint, write and tell stories. We have watched them grow and we have laughed by their sides as we walked with them through our program year after year.
2023 is just around the corner and we're about to launch our biggest project yet. We will be adding close to 500 students to our programs to ensure that they return to school next year. And the next. And the next.
We see hope, here. We see the light that art and education can bring to children who have fled from war. We see love so powerful it outworks itself through the serving of others, compassion so strong it moves people across race and nation. We see the ability to give children a safe and fun space where they can be themselves. Where they can express both their past and the hopes for their future.
We see children who are given a say in where they're going and who they're becoming. We see statistics changed before they ever even have the chance to be written.
We see children who are given a say in where they’re going and who they’re becoming.
We see statistics changed before they ever even have the chance to be written.