Updates — summer 2019

House of Friends has been active in 2019 on a number of amazing initiatives in Kenya.


Updates from House of Friends founder Jamey Ponte…

Dear friends and supporters,

The entire House of Friends team, including Patrick Othieno and I, have been busy this year on several important new projects as well as with carrying forward our legacy ones in Kenya.

The new projects include the creation of three art spaces: an art gallery, a youth art studio with art teacher Steve Kyenze, and an art studio for our artist-in-residence programs.

Our first artist-in-residence program is this September. We’re eager to host a visual artist, or group of artists, with creative skills to share with local Kibera artists. The residency can be as little as 10 days or up to four weeks. If interested, please contact us for details, and please share this opportunity with any artist friends by word of mouth, on your social pages, and via any other means.

Our second artist-in-residence program is called “Now•Friends; Artist Residency, Kenya.” It is a collaborative venture in partnership with NOW Open Studio. The two-week residency is set to commence in June 2020 and is accepting applications from now until August 10, 2019. More information is available here.

House of Friends is also working to collaborate on an annual “Kenya Art” book and is exploring the creation of a local micro art film theatre and the launch of a glass bead studio in Kibera. As well, we’re expanding our Airbnb efforts in Kibera, Mara, and Mombasa.

Our chef in Mombasa, Wickliff Nguka, is getting more serious in the House of Friends kitchen. Babu's Cafe at Pirates Beach is steadily growing, as are our dhow sailing efforts.

We’re continuing our work with Kenyans United Against Poaching (KUAPO) with an upcoming youth workshop, and we’re hiring our first staff member for KUAPO. We will be using the Ondiri Swamp in Kikuyu as a case study for the workshop. I hope our art efforts will manifest in the outcomes, though that is not ready to be shared with the public. Helping to lead these efforts are Sam Dindi and Salisha Chandra.

And, of course, we are in the middle of preparing our “House of Friends” book for the final stage of production early next year. Interviews are moving along great, and transcription is being pushed forward with the help of Samantha Barreras. The book is coming along even better than I envisioned: the youth we have mentored over the past 15 years are sharing stories that are intensely real and empowering. I am so proud of this effort and am excited about the bigger movement growing out of the book.

We have had many visitors from around the world — 15 countries represented just this year to date! — and are fully booked in July. We do still have a few openings in September.

That’s probably enough for now...

-Jamey Ponte


Summer 2019 Kenya Highlights:

  • Three new art spaces

  • Two artist-in-residence opportunities, including one for this September (contact us if interested)

  • “Kenya Art” book partnership

  • “House of Friends” book growing into a larger movement

  • Visitors from 15 countries this year so far

  • We’re fully booked in July but still have a few openings in September