M A S K  (Mobile Art School in Kenya)


   Unleashing creativity and innovation in young people for

   personal and socio-economic development


    UK registered charity No: 1128734



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About MASK

Transformation of nations and societies is dependent on the creative skills of its people. To succeed, young people need to be inventive, resourceful and imaginative.  The best way to foster that creativity is through education for creativity.Yet, creative education is limited or absent in schools in East Africa.

According to research, if creativity is not fostered, it diminishes from 98% when a child is 5 to 2% by the age of 25.   The creative resources of almost 100 million young people, hence, remain under-utilised.

MASK provides young people with non-formal practical training for creativity and innovation in order to increase their well-being, employment opportunities, and enable them to grow their entrepreneurial and leadership skills.  Since 2006, MASK has worked in more than 20 schools in Kenya and benefited more than 25,000 young people. 

MASK programme is a new approach to long-term development in East Africa, where 75% of the population are young people under the age of 25, many are unemployed and with no hope.

Read what our children say and independed report on MASK impact.

MASK vision: young people fully developing their creative potential and grow into creative and innovative professionals, leaders and entrepreneurs that create value, opportunity and change.

MASK mission is to unleash creativity and innovation in young people for personal and socio-economic development.


MASK believes that creativity is an ultimate economic resource and essential for transformation of lives and societies.



MASK definitions


Mobile format

Educational model



MASK is not an 'aid' charity. Aid alone is not development but dependence. Instead of just managing poverty, MASK aims to offer a path out of poverty.



MASK main programmes:

  • Workshops and weekly clubs in local schools

  • Peacebuilding through art

  • Exhibitions and competitions

  • Facilitators training

  • KENA (Kenyan Emerging National Artists) camps


  • Advocacy

For detailed information on the programmes click here



MASK aim is to contribute to:


  • Young people's well-being
  • Employability of young people
  • Eradication of poverty
  • Peace-building
  • Economic growth
  • Recognition of culture

Read more click here


MASK's range of activities, click here


MASK Strategy 2013-1015, click here







How creative education can improve young people's creative thinking, build peace, eradicate poverty and grow culture and economies:






The business world is changing from mass production to innovation.  While employers continue to demand academic standards, they also want people who can think creatively and contribute to the organisation in terms of novel ideas and solutions


MASK helps to improve young people’s chances of finding better jobs.









“Through peaceful pictures we can promote peace.  Art helps people to exchange ideas when they are together.  This can make people to resolve the disagreements peacefully.”  PATRICK MWAURA, 15, the MASK Programme’s beneficiary.


Most East African countries continue to experience conflicts largely as a result of ethnic antagonisms.  In 2008 the Kenyan General Elections resulted in 1,500 people have been killed and 500,000 people displaced.


MASK runs Peacebuilding Through Art Programme in 20 schools in Kenya. 




MASK's peace-building principles:

  • Peace-building amongst schoolchildren and young people must be a priority as it lays a foundation for a peaceful future. 
  • Peace-building through art is most effective tool for educating children and young people for peace.
  • Art better than anything enables children and young people in empathy, the basis for peace-building.  

The programme aims to help young people to:

  • Act as agents of peace in their communities
  • Feel empowered, and thus empower others: art is capable of making young people understand themselves as people who matter and are listened to
  • Learn and teach others empathy.Empathy is the basis for education for peace.Art is a crystallisation of emotion and therefore through practising the arts young people can explore their own emotions and understand the emotions of others
  • Increase their capacities to promote peace amongst themselves and the wider community bylearning to express and communicate their emotions.MASK’s working across different ethnic groups allows us to act as a link between communities.


MASK works in collaboration with local and national government and NGOs such as district education offices and the Center for Conflict Resolution – Kenya (CCRK).


What our beneficiaries say:

  • “Through peaceful pictures we can promote peace. Art helps people to exchange ideas when they are together. This can make people to resolve the disagreements peacefully.PATRICK MWAURA, 15.
  • “The MASK art workshops make me so happy.Artworks also enable Kenyans to conserve environment and to maintain peace.I have learnt that you can communicate a certain idea through painting”, NAFTARY MAINA, 15.
  • “Art workshops help me to express ideas.Art can promote peace between different tribes who are in conflict”, BENSON KINYANTUI, 13.
  • “Art is education which involves drawing, painting, knitting, jewellery, singing, etc.Art can help to educate communities and promote peace”. PETER KIMANI, 17






“Innovation is what America has always been about,” President Barack Obama, February, 2012, State of the Union address.


The economic creative sector-  those whose values depend on new ideas rather than manufacturing commodities - is now the most powerful element in the World's economy.


Creative industries alone employ 8 million people generating $250 billion every yearin the US and UK . 


Employment in the UK’s creative industries has grown by 34% in the last decade against a background of almost no growth in employment in the economy as a whole. 


In East Africa, the creative industries can also have a strong economic impact.






Creative education is a key to developing entrepreneurial thinking and skills in young people.


According to the US Global Development Policy of 2010, ”Entrepreneurship is the most powerful force for eradicating poverty and creating opportunity”.  


MASK’s programme helps young people to develop their entrepreneurial skill.  


Enrepreneurship is new ideas turned into economic goods.  There is simply no entrepreneurship without creativity and innovation, and without enabling the young in these skills.   An entrepreneur must think creatively in order to come up with effective solutiions to problems and challenges.  




Creative education in intimately related to culture: culture is the product of human creativity.


There is no development and growth without culture.  The word 'culture' implies growth and transformation. 









Creativity is innate to a child. However, according to research, creative ability, if neglected, can diminish from 98% when a child is 5 to 32% by age of 10, to 10% by age of 15, and to 2% by age of 25.


Creativity promotes:

  • resourcefulness

  • initiative

  • self-creation

  • ability to cope with change and communicate successfully

  • ability to understand and express ideas, values and feelings

  • extended imaginative capacities

  • raise self-esteem and motivation

  • help the young to define who they are

  • ability to generate new ideas and opportunities

  • ability to look at the world in alternative ways



Read what our children say about MASK, click here




Read what others say about MASK:


"Dear Alla, we deeply thank you for putting the effort to showcase the MASK paintings at the Forum.  You and Joel put an important issue on the agenda in terms of the importance of creativity and art in
education.  It was also great to see how Joel interacted with policymakers and academics to get his point heard."  Policy Forum Organizing Committee, IIEP-UNESCO


"Hi Alla, I wantto tell you that your efforts are not in vain. These children will live to tell how their works ‘spoke’ to other children in the world", Jennifer Wambugu, Head of Creative Arts at the Kenya Institute of Education.



"Dear Alla, It was wonderful to have you here in Washington ! I had a chance to visit the exhibition at Woodrow Wilson Center. Very nice indeed. Congratulations." The Ambassador Elkanah Odembo, Embassy of the Republic of Kenya, Washington DC.


"We are happy to associate ourselves with the Mobile Art School in Kenya and its founders. This programme is the first of its kind in this country. Though the ministry of Education has some small allocation on art in schools the schools hardly utilize these facilities preferring to concentrate only on the examinable subjects. We hope that this programme can be extended to most parts of the country." Francis Apollos, Executive Director, Center for Conflict Resolution - Kenya, NGO.




MASK children's poem about MASK:




Before the advent of the artist,

MASK was unknown to us.

We were like lost strangers

In trackless plains.

Though we had something

We could tell the world,

How could we have told it from

The wilderness?

But like John the Baptist,

MASK came to prepare the

Way for us.

This is a light that lights the way of the


And us, the lamps which we are now

Lit, never to be kept under.

By MASK, our hilltop,

We shall tour the whole world,

And to the world, we shall

Whisper what we know,

Because soft words win hard hearts.



What the leading international development agencies say about education through and for creativity:







MASK is committed to the following fundamental principles:

  • Democracy, accountability, responsibility and transparency

  • Collaboration and partnership with existing organisations and institutions;

  • Respect for cultural diversity, co-existence and different forms of knowledge, including traditional and indigenous;
  • Respect for the varying conditions in which education systems, artistic practices and markets operate in Africa;
  • Professional conduct and improvement of the quality of services in the pursuit of best practices while rooted in African experience;
  • To human rights as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, especially the right to freedom of creative expression, and anti-discrimination on the basis of gender, language, culture, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, religious belief, health, age and disability.




In 2006 we began with nothing but a desire to bring creative education to children in Kenya.


  • MASK has worked in 20 schools in Kenya, transforming local arts and raising children's self-confidence and motivation. More that 25,000 children have benefitted from MASK over the last 5 years, as well as teachers, schools, and local communities.

  • We run Art for Peace, Art Teachers Training and Artists4Aid programmes.

  • We have organised exhibitions in Kenya, France, the UK and USA.


  • During the Kenyan post-election violence of 2008, MASK organised exhibition of Peace art by the children who were victims of that conflict. The exhibition was held at the Russian Embassy in Nairobi. National television channel, KTN, filmed the exhibition and reported on it in their daily youth programme, 'Str8up'; Kenyan vernacular radio stations recorded children's peace messages and broadcasted them nationally!

  • In July 2009, we organised exhibition at the International Institute of Educational Planning (IIEP) UNESCO in Paris. IIEP’s former Director Mark Bray hosted the event. For more, visit IIEP UNESCO website here.

  • On 13 October 2009 we displayed artwork during UNESCO’s General Conference.


  • 19 January-18 February 2010, MASK organised an exhibition at the Kenyan Embassy in Paris. The Kenyan Ambassador The Hon. E. Odembo together with IIEP UNESCO Director Mark Bray opened the event.

  • In May 2010, the leading Kenyan newspaper, The Daily Nation, visited our art workshops and published an article about our work, “Lessons from Mobile Art School”.
  • In January 2011, another leading Kenyan newspaper, The Star, wrote an article about us (read in our News section).
  • In 2010, held our first major exhibition of our children’s artwork at RaMOMA (Rahimtulla Museum of Modern Art) in Nairobi, Kenya.


  •  From 3 February-3 March, showed children's work at the world's leading art gallery, the Saatchi Gallery in London www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/schools/education_room.php (to find us, once in the link, please click on 'previous shows' and scroll down)
  • In March 2011, MASK together with SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) and IoE (Institute of Education, University of London), organised a seminar "Art Education in Kenya". It was very well attended. http://www.soas.ac.uk/cas/africanseminar/10mar2011-art-education-in-kenya.html
  • April – May 2011. MASK organised at workshops for children in a small Masa village in Aboseli. We also organised a few workshops for the women who painted the traditional Masai designs on canvases. It is hoped that they can sell these to tourists.

  • 6-13 May 2011. MASK organised workshops of our newly formed KENA Group (Kenyan Emerging National Artists) out of some of our most talented young people. The purpose of the group is to highlight the creative potential of young people. See our videos and art gallery for more details.

  • 13 May 2011. MASK met with the Kenyan Minister for National Heritage and Culture, Mr Ole Ntimama, and Director of Culture, Mrs Gladys Gatheru. MASK’s children spoke to the Minister about their needs for creative education and achievements.


  • 29 November 2011- April 2012. MASK is showing at Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars in Washington DC. The Private View was opened by Nairimas Ole-Sein, the Cultural Attaché at the Kenyan Embassy, and by Steve MacDonald, the Director of the African Programme at the Woodrow Wilson Center.
  • MASK is participating in UNESCO’s Policy Forum 'Engaging youth in planning education for social transformation' (16-18 October 2012, Paris, France).  MASK's youth is speaking at the event, and MASK's artwork is exhibited at the Forum.
  • MASK has launched the MASK ART PRIZE. The art created by children will be exhibited at the Kenyan National Museum and Saatchi Gallery in London. 
  • Alla Tkachuk gave a talk at the Library of Congress, Washington DC on 18 April 2013.
  • MASK presented its programme to Grant Harris, Special Assistant to the President Barack Obama and Senior Director for African Affairs, on 19 April 2013 at the White House, Washington DC, USA.
  • June 2013.  Exhibition of the 2013 MASK ART PRIZE is opened at the Nairobi National Museum, Nairobi, Kenya.  The show is opened by the British High Commissioner, Dr Chris Turner, and viewed by more than 4,000 Kenyan children.
  • September 2013.  Exhibition of the 2013 MASK ART PRIZE is opened at the Saatchi Gallery by one of the world's most renown conpemporary artists, Michael Craig-Martin.  
  • December 2013.  Exhibition of the 2013 MASK ART PRIZE is opened at the Royal Overseas League in London.



  • MASK works in 20 schools in conflict prone rural areas and across all ethnic groups in Kenya in West Laikipia, Naivasha, and Narok
  • More that 25,000 children have benefited since 2009
  • We work with young people aged between 3 and 19, who may be victims of conflict, disabled, homeless or abused
  • We aim to grow across all countries of East Africa.

(click on the map to enlarge)

We work mainly in Kenya rural areas: Narok, West Laikipia, Naivasha and Nairobi.


See list of Our Schools











  • £35 buy one workshop for a group of 20 children,
  • £500 - buy weekly workshops for one term for one school,
  • £1,250 - buy weekly workshops for one academic year for one school.

 Any donations are gratefully received.



To donate, please go to www.justgiving.com/Mobile-Art-School-Kenya


or, send us a cheque payable to "Mobile Art School in Kenya". For more informatin click here



You can also:

  • Join us on our sponsored walk, The Great Walk of Art in London in September 2014,
  • Go with us on our fundrasing trips to Art Safaris to Kenya and to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania,
  • Join MASK London Team to help with admin and fundrasing,
  • Come to teach our children in our schools in Naivasha Lake, Kenya.














Authorisation Letter, Kenya Ministry of Education, 2011

Authorisation letter, Naivasha District Education Officer, 2009

Authorisation letter, Ngarua Division Education Officer, 2008

Independed Report on MASK impact, 2011

MASK Annual Reports

MASK Memorandum and Articles of Association

MASK Code of Conduct

Child Protection Policy

Child Protection Code of Conduct

Data Protection and Privacy


All images & texts © MASK. All rights reserved

Contact us on : contact@mobileartschoolinkenya.org

Registered UK Charity No: 1128734