Art and Science Reach New Heights 

Amani Children’s Home is a community center in Northern Tanzania that supports underserved children in their academic endeavors, emotional development, and physical wellbeing by providing full-time residential care. The Amani Foundation – founded by former Safina Center Fellow Dr. Katharine Thompson – provides financial aid, managerial oversight, and administrative support to Amani Children’s Home.

In 2017, the Safina Center funded a massive renovation of an unused classroom at Amani – transforming the empty room into a biodiversity library! With murals of the natural world on the walls and shelves full of books about science, art, and conservation, this new space has been an anchor for learning and inspiration at Amani ever since!

Child at a wall with animals and a tree
Kid playing checkers
Child reading a book

In the years since, Amani student’s (and their love of nature!) have only grown. Our first class of students is graduating high school this year. These teens want to become astronomers, wildlife guides, scientists, and artists. Thanks to access to educational materials in our library, and the tireless work of our on-site team, our children’s grades qualify them for college scholarships to pursue their dreams!

This month, we continued to build upon this long history of conservation education through a partnership with John Muir Law’s Wild Wonder Foundation. A renown natural illustrator, Laws brought a team of volunteers to Amani Children’s Home to share their love of nature drawing. These teachers, artists, and naturalists brought professional-quality art supplies for the children and staff. They also led a day of art and nature workshops. Their curiosity for, and knowledge of, the natural world was deepened in this process. They learned about a range of different habitats and drew the animals native to these landscapes, conjuring up beautiful artwork of animals creeping through the underbrush, for example. They also had the chance to ask these expert Naturalists any questions they could think of which led to informative, and at times very humorous, discussions.

Tanzanian safari guides from the Face of Africa Adventures shared how nature journaling and a love of wildlife shaped their lives and inspired them on a career of ecotourism and conservation. Our visitors taught our students that scientific illustration isn’t just a hobby, but a bridge to their own futures.

Children studying
Children playing twister
Children gathering together under a tree.

The next day, the Wild Wonder team brought Amani on Safari in Tarangire National Park! Students drew elephants, giraffes, zebras, and everything in between. They made comics exploring what they thought the animals were thinking, and made journal entries to record the wonder around them. The students came home not only with a new skill, but a newfound connection to Tanzania’s rich biodiversity.

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