In an “everyone a changemaker” world, young people are in charge. Youth need to be nurtured and cultivated to be changemakers. Sophia’s story demonstrates how effectively and hearfully she gave herself permission to support children and youth in Kenya to find what they are good at and use it for the good of all.
At age 13, Sophia Andrews came across the photo of Esther, an orphan at the Happy Life Children’s home in Nairobi, Kenya. Sophia was inspired by Esther’s story and began dedicating the babysitting money she earned towards supporting Esther. The next year, Sophia had the opportunity to visit Esther and the other children at the Happy Life Children’s Home. While Sophia, a lifelong ballet dancer, “enjoyed tasks such as changing diapers, cooking dinner, and playing with the kids” she was distraught to find that few children in Nairobi could experience dance, despite their expressed “love for enjoying music, singing, and dancing.” She believed strongly in the myriad benefits dance could offer, both in and outside the studio, and so Sophia “ventured out to teach a class on dance.” After her classes received an overwhelmingly positive response, Sophia became determined to bring dance to underprivileged children in Nairobi.
Now 16, Sophia is the founder of Ngoma Kenya, which funds dance classes for children on the outskirts of Nairobi. Sophia, along with an in-country team comprised of musicians and choreographers, is working towards building a performing arts center that can function in many ways – as a space where students practice their art, receive meals, get social and academic support, and relax. She looks forward to raising a new generation of dancers native to Kenya who will be able to teach themselves, incorporating local culture into the practice. Sophia believes firmly in the power of the arts, and the power of youth, to make a change. “It doesn't matter how old or young you are,” she says, “it's about helping others and getting involved.”