“Can I wrap this up to give it to my mom as a present?”, asked one of the 17 young creatives who came to visit Cultural Arts Centre last week, after he had finished making a beautiful little notebook. Supervised by the Cultural Arts Centre team, the SEA team and some of their teachers, the lively group of 5- to 10-year-olds from South East Coast International School Zanzibar made notebooks and Burudika handmade soaps throughout the whole morning. Both of the activities use re-cycled and up-cycled materials.
After their arrival we split up the group. Those who preferred to make little notebooks sat with us on the mats we had laid out on the floor, while those who wanted to make soap joined Hamad at the table. Each of us volunteers was joined by two kids who were eager to craft their own book. Choosing a colourful fabric (off-cuts from local tailors) to cover the book with was the first task to do. After a few re-decisions for even prettier or more colourful patterns, everyone held their favourite piece of fabric in their hands. Time to turn the ordinary notebooks into colourful unique pieces of art! First a layer of plain recycling paper had to be glued on the outer surface of the book to create an even undercoat for the fabric to be glued on top. Once the book had a beautiful textile cover we added recycling paper to the first and last page – not all that easy to glue everything in place neatly, but there’s no such thing as an insurmountable hurdle for these creative kids. The last step was to sew the border of the books. Which colour of ribbon is the best one for my fabric? – every kid found its perfect combination and we made the wholes for them to sew through.
With just a tiny bit of help all books got a beautiful ribbon border and were ready to be wrapped as a wonderful present for a parent or to be kept as little treasure chests for the kid’s drawings and writing. While we helped making the notebooks Hamad showed his group how to mix coconut oil, bees wax, essence and caustic soda to create the viscous substance, that turns into mild solid soap after drying. Once mixed together the ingredients first become a liquid substance, but the more they are mixed the more it turns solid. With all the kids’ combined forces and great attention to safety(!) they managed to move the big wooden spoon and mix the ingredients until they were ready to be filled into the mould. Quickly before the soap started drying the kids carried the big bucket to the mould and spread the soap inside to dry. Whether it was soap or a notebook – at midday every pupil proudly held their own handmade product in their hands. Working with these wonderful kids was a pleasure for all of us so: Karibu tena, South East Coast International School and karibu to any other children’s group!