The Creative Arts Initiative is a literacy-based arts program for young women in Kabala, Sierra Leone dedicated to strengthening English language skills through creative writing, and boosting self-esteem and self-confidence through songwriting, photography and filmmaking. C.A.I.’s aim is to foster creative thinking and self-empowerment through the arts, and encourage the girls to use their creativity in ways that will uplift their community.

In April 2010, the Creative Arts Initiative was launched at the NarSarah clinic in Kabala. Hope Law, Ali Kamanda, Julia Jordan, and Carol Owens, representatives of C.A.I., took a two-week creative journey with fifteen intelligent and enthusiastic young women as they discovered photography, poetry, and guitar playing. Halfway through the program the whole group took a symbolic hike up to the top of Kabala Mountain to conquer self-limiting doubts; work together as a group, and learn the meaning of self-determination.

On the last day of the workshop the girls performed original poetry, cultural songs and stories for a large community audience. They also put on a dramatic play, taking the opportunity to teach their families about how early marriage significantly affects the lives of girls in Sierra Leone. This impressive and inspiring play was written and directed by Fatmata Shaw, one of the senior C.A.I. students.

Academic scholarships were awarded to all participants for school supplies, books, uniforms, and tuition fees for the 2011-2012 school year.

It was truly an inspiring and fulfilling experience for everyone involved. A very special thanks to Theresa Finah Kargbo, Peacemaker Kargbo, Ferenkeh Yanka, Daisy Sankoh, and Abu Conteh for their support throughout this trip. It would not have run so smoothly or been so successful without your inspiration and dedication!

Click to see our pictures from the trip!

Student Poems

Here are two poetry examples written by one of the oldest and one of the youngest Creative Arts students. Thank you to Anne Fennell’s music composition class at Mission Vista High School in Vista, CA for providing original poetry and music to the C.A.I. girls. They learned to write their own poems using your beautiful examples!


My Poem
             Abibatu Shaw, age 18

I am the girl who:
Eat the sweet food
Bite the bitter mango
Drink the cool water
Drink the spicy ginger.

I am the girl who:
Close the door
Take the baby
Push the car
Jim the desk.

I am the girl who:
See the goal
See the mango
Sleep at night
Close my eyes for Jesus.

I am the girl who:
Heard the noise
Shout the name
Clap my hands
Sing loudly

I am the girl who:
Smell the spray
Smell the delicious food.


             Haja Isatu Bah, age 12

To not just talk,
  But to have pride in your thoughts.
To not just listen what people think,
  But to have Self-Confidence.

To have pride in your education,
To have pride in what you want to be,
To always be proud of yourself,
  that you can do anything
  for yourself.
I think without pride you can't do anything.