Speaker 1 (00:00):
I don't know her name. And that was almost three years ago. So she wouldn't even really look like herself. Now she would be growing into a young woman.
Speaker 2 (00:10):
This is the Bold Artist podcast.
Speaker 1 (00:14):
You have answers, and you're expressing them in your art. Your art is important. It needs to be seen.
Speaker 2 (00:23):
Welcome. And let's get started with today's episode.
Speaker 2 (00:31):
Welcome back to another episode of the Bold Artist podcast today. It is our pleasure to hear from Charla Maarschalk, a story that none of us have heard before. And most of us are wondering, you might be familiar with the portrait, the iconic portrait that we all call Kenya Girl. It's a portrait that almost every student has the chance to paint when they take Bold Color Bootcamp through Bold School and everyone wonders, where does Kenya Girl come from? And what is the story behind this beautiful portrait that we learn how to paint? And the only one who can tell us is Charla herself because Charla, you have met Kenya girl in person, correct?
Speaker 1 (01:15):
Yes, I did. And I took the photo. So I, I took her photo, and that's why we use it. It's very exciting.
Speaker 2 (01:26):
Well, well, I know there's so much more to it than that. So, let's back up and hear the story of what led you to even be in the right place at the right time to take that photo that everyone paints. And we all fall in love with Kenya irGl at some point through Bold Color Bootcamp. And for those of you who've tuned in and you're not quite sure, um, what we mean by Bold Color Bootcamp, uh, Charla is the founder of Bold School who teaches online, um, bold color painting. And there's one of the classes called, um, Bootcamp, right? So Bold Color Bootcamp. And so through that class, we paint the Kenya Girl in bold colors, and she has a look in her eyes that draws you in, that makes you wonder her story. And a lot of the community, the Bold School community say, what is the story behind Kenya Girl? And so I know that it's more than you just snapping her photo and then painting it. So, can you back us up, Charla, and tell us how you got there to be with Kenya Girl?
Speaker 1 (02:36):
Yes, it's, it's a, it's a good story. A good story in my life anyways. Yeah. And I've kind of, didn't even really think of what I was doing with that portrait until one day in our community, um, we started talking about her and everyone was asking like who she was, and 'cuz I don't really explain that. And we, we started realizing, you know, this beautiful little face has been painted thousands of times and shared and discussed and we have a gallery on her website of the Kenya Girl and she's, she's so beautiful. And she's been represented in such like vast, um, variety of colors and uh, brushstrokes and everything. And people have, everyone has their own connection with her. As we talk about, when you paint a portrait, you know, you could spend hours with a face and it becomes a very intimate process of looking at every crevice of that face and getting to know the person, and you often have conversations with them.
Speaker 1 (03:35):
So, in our community, we talked about that and how we all know and love the Kenya Girl. And she's changed a lot of people's lives because they've opened up, um, become a much more free... Creatively free artist. So, it's been a profound moment for many people. So, we started talking about it and people are like, what's the story? And they wanna know more. And I tell my friends about it, but I haven't really openly discussed it online until now. So, the story, I mean, it really begins as me as an artist going back to my photography days and then, you know, moving into my, uh, painting days. And I started to realize that I wanted to be able to paint or I started to realize I enjoyed painting my own photographs more than painting references from somewhere else. And I think they're, I mean, I love painting faces that I don't know because I can interpret them and make them into my own stories, but when I am able to photograph a person or an experience and then paint it, I have a deeper connection with that. So I started dreaming about traveling the world and, you know, meeting people of every culture, every genre, every age, you know, people just, I mean, everyone is unique, and there's so many people in the world...
Speaker 2 (04:54):
Well, I know... And we know how much you've shared before, how much you love the human face and the person, the, the people, like, you love people. And so it's, I can see why that dream, why you dreamed that, and why you wanted that. And, and we see it in your work.
Speaker 1 (05:10):
Mm-hmm and I love traveling. So, what a great excuse to travel, take my camera and travel and just enjoy these experiences, and come home and then paint around those experiences. And so that was my, my dream. And, um, I had started to create a few projects around that. So, the day came where I started to consider Kenya as an option. And that came out of an experience with one of my best friends, who's a doctor, and she knew a couple who were living... They're a Canadian couple that are based, um, out of Kelowna when they're in Canada, but they've been living in Kenya for a decade. And what brought them there originally was, um, helping to rescue, rescue, rehabilitate kids that had been child soldiers in Uganda. And then they started working with, in an orphanage in Kenya where it was basically the same thing.
Speaker 1 (06:08):
These kids are living on the street, little kids, just living on the street. They have no family. They have nothing. And you know, they... A lot, in a lot of different countries, they open up orphanages to put these kids in, but it's still not much of an existence to be in an orphanage. And they experienced that pretty quick that the orphanage and the people running it were often corrupt, and the kids were running away from the orphanages, and they didn't wanna be there. It wasn't really much better. And so they started, um, excuse me, thinking about how they could fix that. Like how, how could it be better? So instead of orphanage, they close the orphanage, and instead of creating more of the same, they started finding local Kenyan families who would adopt these kids or foster them really off of the streets, take them into their families.
Speaker 1 (06:58):
And I mean, we all know here and there that's the best option for these kids to have their own family environment.
Speaker 2 (07:04):
Mm-hmm , mm-hmm .
Speaker 1 (07:06):
And there was a lot less, uh, kids running back to the streets when they put them into their homes. So, that was, that's what I love about the work they do. Out of that automatically came the need or medical care with these kids, cuz I mean just basic things like having a cut and not having proper hygiene caused the cuts to get infected and no one knew what to do with them. Hmm. So this couple, Larry and Francine, they, they said they would end up just carrying bandages everywhere they went to help people, and then word spread that they could fix things and people started coming to them. So, then they started holding regular clinics, and there was then a need for a shelter for these clinics.
Speaker 1 (07:47):
And it kind of a medical clinic pretty much just grew out of that, even though they're not medical, they're not doctors or nurses is just something that developed.
Speaker 2 (07:57):
Speaker 1 (07:58):
And one of, of the sons that they had adopted and raised themselves had actually worked, actually works now in the clinic, and he's studying to be a doctor. And I think his dream is to be a surgeon. So, he runs the clinic that they have now. So, my friend, who's a doctor here wanted to travel there and check out the clinic and offer help and advice on, on what they could do with the means that they have. Of course the clinic doesn't make money. It requires, uh, complete support, and they use a lot of, um, they use whatever they can afford and whatever they can get their hands on. So, my friend is a naturopath, and she wanted to be able to go over there and see what type of local things they could use and how they could educate people in what they could do themselves to prevent a lot of the real basic issues that they are seeing every single day.
Speaker 1 (08:51):
So, my friend,,, Alana was talking about this. She was talking about this trip for probably a couple of years, and I was just a little bit jealous in the background. Not really saying much, I'm not a doctor. What am I gonna do? And I didn't even know this couple, and it was across the world. So, it was obviously gonna cost money. So, she was talking about it. And then finally, one day she's like Charla, I'm going to Kenya and I'm going this year. And I was like, oh, I'm wanna come with you. And she's like, well come. I'm like, okay, what do you want me to come for? Like, what am I gonna do? And she's like, just come, like there's always in these types of mission, like, situations, there's always need. So much need. And I honestly had no clue what I was gonna go for, but I knew I wanted to bring my camera.
Speaker 1 (09:36):
I would photograph the whole thing. And I'm sure that there would be a role for me to play. So, I, I didn't really commit, like I was scared. I, I felt, I think because she was going with such a, a mission, like she's a doctor, and she's gonna go to this medical clinic and educate and help and treat patients. And like, I just had no idea what I was gonna do. So, I felt probably like I had no place there and I was just gonna go and pretend that I was doing good. You know, like, to me, it was not much worse than going on a missions trip and coming home and bragging about how, what I did in Kenya. And I did nothing. I just, whatever that I was feeling. Right.
Speaker 2 (10:16):
Speaker 1 (10:16):
So, I was a little bit worried. I didn't, I don't think I realized it was really happening until I got on the plane. This was
Speaker 2 (10:24):
It just you and Alana, or did you go with a lot of people?
Speaker 1 (10:27):
Uh, there was a team of five of us went. Uh, yes. So there was Alana. Um, there was also a nurse that went with us. There was me and two other girls that were at actually a little bit more like me. They're like my heart is to go to help, but they didn't know what they were bringing to the table in a sense. So, there was five of us, which was really exciting -- I didn't even know these girls before I left. They were, um, they had connections with Larry and Francine. So, I had done missions work before. I'd gone to, with this type of work in mind, to central America. I had also traveled just on my own. My husband is from Zimbabwe. So, I've been to Africa. Um, traveling itself wasn't necessarily, uh, the scary, intimidating part. It was that I didn't really know why I was going. And I think it was that before, when I got on the plane, I didn't feel like my art wasn't important enough reason to go to this place where there's people who are suffering and poverty and sickness. And I'm like, I'm just gonna bring my camera. Is That really an important reason to go?
Speaker 2 (11:31):
And at that point were you thinking of yourself as mainly a photographer or you were making that transition from photography to painting? What role was painting playing in your life at that time?
Speaker 1 (11:41):
Um, I was working as a full-time painter, and I had kind of put photography behind and hadn't really been using my own photography except for commission work. So, if somebody wanted me to and I, I, I will still say this right now, or to this day I'll give this advice, that if you have somebody wanting to commission you to paint a picture of their loved one, if you can go and photograph that person, your painting will be better because you will interact with that person. And of course you need some photography skills, but even if you're using your iPhone, you're interacting with that person and you're getting to know them and they're getting to know you, and you get to hear a bit about their story, and all of that kind of thing. So, when you paint them, you know, this person you've experienced their, their spirit, you know, and their expression and mannerisms.
Speaker 1 (12:32):
And I feel like I, I can paint way better when I'm able to do that, but my, my dream and my desire was to travel and photograph people, so that I could come home and put together a body of work, you know, of, of those experiences. And I, I think probably because I felt like that was my own personal desire. You know, sometimes you think of your stuff is less important than other people's stuff. So, I think that was what I had a lot of that going on.
Speaker 2 (12:59):
Speaker 1 (12:59):
And I was feeling like I, I don't even really, really what the word is. Like, I didn't deserve to go in a sense. This was just something I wanted. It wasn't really gonna benefit anybody else. But the point of me telling that part is that I learned a lot, and I learned that that was just silly and not true.
Speaker 1 (13:15):
And that the work I was doing as an artist was equally important, and so much has come from it. And that's why the story, I think, is a good story to tell. So, I was going as an artist, as a painter, my end goal at that point was to come home with a body of work, a body of photographic work that I could paint from, and hopefully have photographs that I would even want to have as part of those exhibitions. You know, have my paintings and my photography. I didn't really know what to expect, 'cause I hadn't gone on a trip, but that this was the, the purpose for that trip. I'd never done that before. So, it was a new experience. So, I think, um, when I was going through security and getting on the plane was the only moment where I actually believed this was true and actually happening. Wow. I was going and I was gonna do it. And I had my gear in hand. And I think from that moment on was when everything changed because, um, it was waters I had never swam in before. Really?
Speaker 2 (14:17):
So, so when you got to Kenya and you, I guess, like, Alana was focused on the medical center, and you began to fit in as with your camera, and as an artist, um, was Kenya Girl there, right when you got off the plane? Or, not, when you got pff the plane, but when you arrived...
Speaker 1 (14:36):
First picture I took...
Speaker 2 (14:38):
Like, how did that all unfold? That as you met the village people in that community, how, how did it unfold that you met her and, and tell us about the role she played?
Speaker 1 (14:49):
Yeah. So, the story gets a little further along. We, we were there, I think a week or so, and we went on a medical outreach. And when, uh, they have teams come over, they usually are able to go on outreaches because they cost more money. So, what that meant is that we were staying in a little city, a little town, and we went to a village, which was, I think about a three hour drive outside of the city. We, the main, the capital of Kenya is Nairobi. We were about eight hours from Nairobi. So it was a small town. It wasn't, it wasn't Nairobi -- a big city like that. So, we were staying in Kitale. So, we traveled about three hours into the bush where there's just tiny little remote villages. Um...
Speaker 2 (15:38):
Were you excited? Were you nervous? What, what does that feel like?
Speaker 1 (15:41):
I was terrified.
Speaker 2 (15:42):
Speaker 1 (15:43):
We, we're in Africa, and we're in the bush, and we slept in tents. Like it was, it was insane. Uh, it, it was scary, but they'd done this lots. So, I was like, we're just gonna go with it. See what happens.
Speaker 2 (15:56):
Trust the guides.
Speaker 1 (15:56):
Yeah. And it was in the desert. So, I had never really been in the, in the desert in Africa before. Yeah. I mean, the first thing that happened was one, we had two trucks, and one of them broke down, and then the next thing that happened, uh, or maybe it was the same time, I don't know, we hit a motorcycle. We actually think the motorcycle hit us. 'Cuz traffic is insane. So, all of a sudden this guy, he actually said, he thought he may have fallen asleep on his bike, and he hit the side of the van and went flying.
Speaker 1 (16:31):
So, we had to get this guy into our van and get him to the next town quickly before the police came because you're in Africa, and you don't wanna wait for the police.
Speaker 2 (16:40):
Speaker 1 (16:41):
So, we get him to the next town and, and take care of him, make sure he is okay, like all that kind of stuff. And we were there for a few hours just sitting in this town, you know, there's, there's so many things to deal with there. As soon, now we're in a smaller town we're a van full of white people. So, everybody and their dog is there finding out what we're doing and trying to talk to us. And there's kids everywhere. The street kids are coming. And, um, there's nowhere to go to the bathroom. In Africa, there is nowhere to go to the bathroom, ever, except a tree.
Speaker 1 (17:13):
And now we're, we're in. And like, even, even when there is a public washroom, you choose the tree because they're really, really bad. So, these are the issues that we're dealing with in this little town. So, we take care of the guy, and we take care of some of the, we feed some of the street kids, and we take off again. And the reason it took three hours to get there is not because of distance it is actually because of really terrible roads. So, anyways, we make it to the village, and this village is in, in the middle of the desert. There's just a few, like, few trees around, not much. And people are apparently like walking for days to meet us there because they hear that this medical outreach team is coming. So these villages, it was in, uh, a place called Pokot, and these little tiny villages,
Speaker 1 (18:02):
Um, they say like 10 years ago they were running around naked. Like they had no contact with the cities. They were just, they were very tribal, very much in the old ways. Now there's a lot more communication, and they're able to travel and communicate a little bit, not much. Um, so they, they are a little bit more, I mean, I'll use the word westernized, but I won't say was not really westernized, but they wear clothes now. Um, so these people are coming like for hours, and we're setting up and it takes us a few hours to kind of set up and get the clinics ready. And they're just li lining up. They're just, they're just all sitting there for hours waiting for this clinic to start. And it's hot, really, really hot. I mean, it's just an incredible experience. Um, so we're remote desert village.
Speaker 1 (18:55):
There's hundreds of people around, there's kids. There's old people. There's so much more, so much dynamics happening within these little villages, and like the, the chiefs, they didn't come until we were ready to start. And then these women and children that have been, like, lining up for hours, the chiefs come in and they like go right to the front of the line. They're like, okay, you're open. We're ready to be seen. And we're like, no, no, no, well, I didn't say anything. I was just photographing, but Francine's like, no, I don't think so. These women and children are sick. These children are sick. They've been here for hours, dehydrated, and in the sun, and they're getting seen first. And she's standing up to these tribal chiefs who don't even allow women to speak to them sometimes. You know, it was so there's a lot of tense moments there. Yeah. Um, so it kind of, it gets started. And, you know, we, I, I keep saying we, I was really not anything to do with the clinic. I was really just photographing and filming, but we're running out of medicine.
Speaker 2 (19:56):
So, you just, at that time with, when, when you're painting us this picture, were you snapping pictures the whole time? Were you, um, talking to people or what, what were you doing in those moments?
Speaker 1 (20:08):
Yeah, so I was really just taking photos. And in the beginning, you know, there was a lot of people around, so there was a lot to photograph. I was photographing the doctors and nurses, all working and all that. It was a really neat little spot. And then there's kids everywhere, and they're just staring at me because I'm just holding this, I don't even know if they know what a camera is,
Speaker 2 (20:32):
Strange contraption, yeah.
Speaker 1 (20:32):
This weird person, with this weird thing and pointing at them, and trying to get them to smile. And they're not smiling.
Speaker 2 (20:37):
Speaker 1 (20:39):
So I, this is what it's, it was awkward and weird. And I had to try and figure that out. But I also had, uh, my iPad with me and I started realizing like, these kids, a lot, some of them knew what I was doing. I would show them the pictures on the back of my camera, and they love seeing themselves.
Speaker 1 (20:54):
And that, you know, they probably don't get experience that very often. Yeah. No one has phones, no one has technology. So, I got my iPad out and I started taking videos of, of the kids, and letting them watch the videos. And they were just like, it was the most amazing thing I think they'd probably ever seen. They loved it.
Speaker 2 (21:14):
Speaker 1 (21:14):
Yeah. I literally spent hours videoing these kids and letting them watch themselves. And I was able, like, interacting with them. And then some of the young moms were coming around and, and communicating with me and, and just hanging out and, like, holding my hand. And it was, we, we had, we couldn't speak, they spoke, um, you know, the tribal languages. So I, we had no way to communicate. What was this really cool experience, though, was near the end of the day, I was kind of just sitting down on the ground with like, I don't know how many kids around me.
Speaker 1 (21:47):
I they're all watching this iPad. I mean, they, they just didn't know what it was. And I started thinking like, they've never even watched TV, so this is just such a phenomenon to them. You know, this thing that's here. I actually had Netflix movies downloaded on my iPad so I could watch on the plane. And I turned on some of these movies 'cuz they were different scenesand sights, and I mean, the looks on their faces was just incredible. So, then I opened up Procreate, which we talk about at Bold School quite a bit. As artists, we use procreate. And I started drawing with my finger on the screen, and then everyone wanted to turn, which I realized was a grave mistake.
Speaker 2 (22:24):
It must seem like magic to them.
Speaker 1 (22:27):
Yeah. But then this one girl, this one girl who was actually quite, um, uh, I could say even aggressive in her communication with me, and wanting to see the camera, and wanting to see the iPad.
Speaker 1 (22:38):
She was a little bit aggressive, but I started, I realized why was 'cuz she had knowledge she wanted, she was trying to share and she couldn't share 'cause she couldn't talk to me. So, she took the iPad and she wrote in English, Welcome, on the iPad. And it was like,
Speaker 2 (22:55):
That gave me shivers.
Speaker 1 (22:56):
Yeah, it actually makes me, like, choke up a little when I tell this story. 'Cause, she had been like in my face this whole time, and she may have even been understanding things I was saying, you know, 'cuz it's, sometimes it's easier to understand a language than it is to, to speak it. Or you feel intimidated to speak it 'cuz you might not say it. Right. And all of a sudden she just says welcome. And I just look at her and I'm like, oh my goodness, this is amazing.
Speaker 1 (23:19):
This is so beautiful. Like she's actually... I don't know what they think. They might think that I'm like this... They want me gone. I don't know. I'm not giving them medicine.
Speaker 2 (23:27):
Right. Oh yeah.
Speaker 1 (23:28):
But, she's like, welcome to our community. It was just so beautiful. So, I was in the, at the same time photographing everybody there. And that is where the Kenya Girl was. She was just waiting there at the clinic. She was very quiet. She didn't interact. I don't know her name. And that was almost three years ago. So, she wouldn't even really look like herself now. She would be growing into a young woman, but that was where she was. She was in Pokot at this medical clinic waiting with her family to be seen. And eventually she was seen and she left. Um, as far as I remember, she was never a part of that little iPad group that I had going on.
Speaker 2 (24:07):
And did you just take one photo of the Kenya Girl or multiples? Like was it a little photo shoot, or did you just happen to snap one that has become the, the main reference photo for all of these painters to paint.
Speaker 1 (24:22):
Of her? It was just the one. That one photo. There was another young girl that, she was there with her mom and they ended up hanging out with me almost the entire day, and she loved, she was a little model. I called her my model, and I have so many photos of her, but I didn't actually, I don't know why I didn't choose to use one of her paintings, or one of her photos for that painting. 'Cuz, I had a whole experience with her. But the Kenya Girl, it was just such a beautiful picture that I had taken of her. And she was just looking right into my camera, and the expression on her face. And I thought she was beautiful, and inspiring, and she just became the one. So, I didn't know, uh, that I was going to be doing an online class when I was in Pokot taking those photos.
Speaker 1 (25:05):
I was really just taking them so that I could come back and tell the story of my experience in Kenya, the people of Kenya. And it began to develop into, I, I got a real heart for the work that was being done there, and I really wanted... The story became about what was happening in, not just the people of Kenya, but what Larry and Francine were doing. And the children that, the children that, um, you know, are, are just forgotten and left on the streets. Like these children in Pokot had parents, they, they weren't homeless kids. But the children that we saw everywhere outside of the villages in this, in the towns and cities were just homeless kids everywhere on the street. And for me, the story became about the kids of Kenya. Um, now the, the Kenya Girl was, she had a, a family in this little village.
Speaker 1 (25:58):
They had the grandparents, the grandmothers, and the mothers, and aunts and uncles and cousins, everybody was there, and they took care of each other. And it was actually a very beautiful to see the families that these villages had. In the cities we saw, we, we went to, um, a, one of the local dumps where the Larry and Francine would often go and get to know the kids there and help them. And there were eight year old kids living in the dump. So, the children of Kenya became, um, a big part of my story. I think when I came back.
Speaker 2 (26:35):
Do you feel that when you've, you know, begun to teach people to paint the Kenya Girl, it is a way of saying the children are not forgotten. It's like she represents all of them.
Speaker 1 (26:46):
Yeah. Yeah. I that's what I was going for, I think. I, I was planning when I started the online class to paint an adult. I often say the best, like you paint a young adult they're um, the easy is to paint. If, you break it down. That's not exactly the whole truth, but that would been my intention. But I was just so moved by the children, and that's, I just decided to go with where my heart was more so than where my head was in choosing the reference for her or for the class, which was her. Um, yeah. So when I think about Kenya, that is what it was. Yes.
Speaker 2 (27:25):
When I have interviewed so many artists here on the bold artist podcast, and a lot of them have painted the Kenya Girl, and they, like, several of them tell me how impactful it was for them to paint her. And so I've known, like, I, I personally hadn't heard the fullness of this story, um, until now. And yet I knew that there was something more because painting her, uh, for these artists, is memorable. And they're so proud of -- in a good way -- of that, that handy work of painting her. And they're, you know, a lot of times the Kenya Girl will be hanging right behind them, uh, the artist when I'm interviewing. And she's right there. And they're so proud of, of how far they come as artists learning from you and painting her. And so I think it's really special that now the artist can hear the story of who she was, and she wasn't your model. She wasn't trying to model. She has no idea. She's been painted this many times.
Speaker 1 (28:24):
Speaker 2 (28:25):
And it was only that one photograph. And that one photograph has become thousands of paintings. And not just paintings, not just the act of putting paint on a canvas, but transformative, like transformation is happening in these artists.
Speaker 1 (28:40):
Speaker 2 (28:41):
In their skill. But also, I, I believe in their hearts because something about her, the expression and the way of us saying the children are not forgotten. That's so powerful.
Speaker 1 (28:54):
Yeah. I would agree. You know, the children, there were it's interesting, 'cuz I, I say like they, most of the children there had families now, even if they were orphaned, the village was taking care of them. Whereas the children in the cities were, were left to starve on the street, and die on the street, and people, I guess they just were used to it. Um, I don't know. I don't fully understand why there were a lot of people that cared for them. That's a whole other story. Um, but the kids in Pokot, like they were, it was interesting to watch them. They were starving. Like these, these villages were very poor, and they were very hungry. And the kids were like docile. Like they, they would just look at you. They wouldn't smile. They, they didn't have a whole lot of energy. You know, some of the kids that were around me with the iPad, they were a bit different.
Speaker 1 (29:49):
Um, but for the most part, the kids, they didn't know how to play games. Like they didn't have toys, they didn't know what to do with a ball. Like we, we brought stuff to give to them, and to play with them, and they didn't... we had to teach them what to do with these things. One of the things we would bring, which is a really simple, easy thing to, to transport, 'cuz we would bring a, there was a lot of medicine that we had to take. So, it was a lot of things we had to pack. Uh, but we would bring balloons, and 'cuz you could blow them up and they became balls and you could play with them. One reason that we wouldn't actually bring balls like a soccer ball -- in part because they took up a lot of space -- but the ground was covered in thorns.
Speaker 1 (30:30):
And I guess Larry and Francine had learned quite a long time ago that taking balls were pointless because they would pop on these thorns, and the kids would be devastated. So, we would bring balloons, which would also pop, but they were easier to carry, and they were cheaper.
Speaker 2 (30:44):
And kind of fun when they popped, too.
Speaker 1 (30:47):
Yeah. So we would blow up balloons, and the kids would just play with these balloons. They thought it was the most amazing thing, but we had to teach them what to do. They had never seen these things before and they, once we started interacting, and they knew that we were safe, you know, they were scared of us. They would run real easy if you spoke too loud. Uh, but yeah, they would, they, once they knew that we were safe, and it was fun, you know, they would just come to play.
Speaker 1 (31:12):
They just loved it. And then in the morning when we woke up, 'cuz we slept in tents, the kids would start to come around and we were eating, we had to eat 'cuz we had a long, hot ahead of us and the kids would come around. So we share our food with them. And one of this, the most tragic moments was these kids would, they would eat some of the food we'd given them, and they would throw up because they weren't, their stomachs couldn't handle it. It's, we weren't giving them like, um, junk food or even rich food. It was that they were so hungry. That was when you started to see like how sick and hungry these kids really were.
Speaker 2 (31:49):
Speaker 1 (31:49):
So, the kids at Pokot were, were very interesting to watch. They were very different than the kids that we know. I mean, they were completely different than the kids that we know here in America.
Speaker 1 (32:02):
So that was a really interesting experience. And that was the Kenya Girl. And she just sat there, and she watched me, and then I took her picture. So, that was who she was and where she comes from. And the other thing, like, I mean, uh, Larry and Francine still go to Pokot and, and have mission or outreaches there, medical outreaches there. But the people that come come from all of the surrounding village is so you never really know if the same people will be back again or not.
Speaker 2 (32:28):
Speaker 1 (32:29):
So, I've, I'm often asked, like, will you be able to show her the paintings, or can we send them, can we send something to her? And we, I say we can't promise that we'll ever see her again, or know where she is, or how to find her. But the village itself is continually supported by Larry and Francine's work.
Speaker 1 (32:50):
And we're currently, um, raised, have we have a GoFundMe page currently. I don't know how long we'll have that up for the work that they do you in Pokot so a Bold School as, and me, I mean, that's just an ongoing thing that we have a relationship that we have and something that I'll support for a very long time, 'cuz I believe in the work that they're doing. So, we do try as hard as we can to give it back to that community where the, where the Kenya Girl came from. But I can't say or promise that she will directly benefit from anything that we're doing because we don't know where she is, really.
Speaker 2 (33:28):
Yeah. She may never know the impact that she's had, and how she's been, um, part of the story of Charla and Bold School and so many. It's a beautiful story. And it's beautiful to know that she represents just so much more than a little girl. She represents a, a way bigger picture of a community and remembering that the children there are not forgotten. It's, it's very heart wrenching, but special to know that through your talent and your obedience to go, your willingness to go, uh, even though you didn't even know why you were going, you know, you were just like, here I am with my camera, everyone else is doing medicine and what seems to be, or you could think of it as the important work, but what you have done is so important and so special. It's like you've preserved and captured a piece of history and humanity and,
Speaker 2 (34:27):
Speaker 1 (34:28):
...and helped it to carry forward into legacy. It's really powerful.
Speaker 1 (34:33):
Yeah. And you know, I think that seeing the impact that she's had on other people's lives and the artist's transformations have happened and um, you know, it is a little bit of a reminder of our lives and how we can be impactful into other people's lives without even knowing it without ever hearing the story. You wonder if the work you're doing or the, the relationships you're making or even the art that you're painting is, is purposeful or is there any point to it? And often we don't know what we're contributing to the world. And even though, um, our Kenya Girl may or may not ever receive anything back from the work, you know, the things that she's offered out, I think that if her heart could know the impact that she's had on people's lives here, uh, you know, it would be an incredible thing for her to know. I think that she would absolutely love it. I do plan to someday -- it's not in the works right now -- but someday create a book of the paintings and give it to Larry and Francine. And then you never know where it might show up, where it might end up. And maybe given the right time, we can like put a call out to see if we can find her. That's a little dream that I have that.
Speaker 2 (35:53):
So amazing, yes.
Speaker 1 (35:54):
Yeah. It could very well happen.
Speaker 2 (35:55):
I hope you do. Yeah. It would be so full circle, and so special for her to know and see.
Speaker 1 (36:01):
Yeah. That's a genuine dream I have.
Speaker 2 (36:02):
You have such a way when you paint portraits of capturing the beauty and the essence of, of people that I think it would be just so special for her simply to see the portrait you painted, let alone all the, those that you have taught how to paint. I think it might actually, if she ever gets the chance to know, it might be so special as overwhelming. Like, I don't even know if she can comprehend.
Speaker 1 (36:28):
I know, it probably, it would be hard. It would be hard to comprehend. I mean, I don't know where she might end up in school in university, you know. It's like, I pray for her that she'll have blessings in her life like that. And to some, see a book of her portraits, like I think that would overwhelm a lot of people.
Speaker 2 (36:44):
Speaker 1 (36:45):
It would overwhelm a lot of people. Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, it always comes down to also monetary value that she might freak out and be like, you guys did what with my face? And there is always that issue of the idea of taking somebody else's portrait and using it. But I do, I, I mean, yeah, it's easy to say this in a public platform, but if I ever found her, she wouldn't go away empty handed that's for sure. For the, the impact that she's had on my life and everybody else's life, I would, would do what I could for her if we ever found her again. So, my hope is that one day we will find her.
Speaker 2 (37:23):
Speaker 1 (37:23):
But in the meantime, uh, we do support the community, and the village, and the work that happens there. So, if you're interested in that, um, we have information on the Bold School blog. Um, and you can always contact support and find out more information, too, about how, how you can support and help if you're interested. If you've been impacted by the Kenya Girl, and you wanna help out.
Speaker 2 (37:44):
Yes. And there's some informative videos on YouTube as well on the Bold School channel.
Speaker 1 (37:49):
Speaker 2 (37:49):
There's some informative video videos of your friends that are working there, um, the message, the purpose and mission. And so you can get more information on YouTube, as well. And so if there's anything that you would like to leave our listeners and watchers today, Charla, about the story of the Kenya girl, the children in Africa, the message that was in your heart as a photographer and painter, what would it be that you'd wanna leave us with closing words?
Speaker 1 (38:17):
Um, you know, I think what I look back, and I look back at, I think that's probably why I dwelled on the part of the story so long, about choosing to go to Kenya, like, is this meaningful? Like, should I go, like, what is my role? I'm not gonna save lives. I'm not gonna give people diagnosis and medicine and make them feel better. Should I go? And feeling almost like I wasn't worthy of going or whatever, you know, our, our issues are and our, our lack of confidence. Um, I look back, and if I had not followed my heart in it, or I, I believe that God led me there, and that if I had just trusted and followed him to go, um, if I hadn't have gone, I wouldn't have experienced any of that. I wouldn't have grown. I wouldn't have known any of those people, or met any of those people. I mean, of course it changes you just being there. But when I look at how it impacted my art, I mean, I have, um, since then I've begun a business and I've, I've, I believe that I, I did that because I wanted to make... There's there's a whole other story behind everything.
Speaker 2 (39:28):
Yeah. Well, and there is going to be a continuation. So, let's not this continuation too soon because there's a whole lot more to the story. And, um, a very impactful story that happened in Africa that we want to continue in the next podcast. Um, but in closing of today's show, I, I feel like it's, there's just been a message here today of whether you feel worthy or not, whether you feel like equipped or the right person, sometimes there's just steps you have to take boldly to do what you know is in your heart. And you might find yourself in some place that you feel like you don't belong, but you do. And then you never, never know what ripple effects can come out of it, even from a single photograph.
Speaker 1 (40:15):
Speaker 2 (40:15):
And that photo that has just changed so many hearts and lives just by the look on her face. And so it's, it's such a beautiful story and reminder to us to step through, uh, all of those, just the things that we're called to, to step through it with confidence and not second guess.
Speaker 1 (40:39):
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And I, I came home with not just a, a body of photography work that I could paint from, but I, I came back with a, a massively burning desire to do more. And.
Speaker 2 (40:54):
I remember that.
Speaker 1 (40:55):
Yeah, I wanted, I wanted to do more for Larry and Francine to help them with the work they're doing. 'Cause it was just incredible. And the boys that I met on the street just have still, I still see their faces so clearly, and I didn't photograph them all. 'Cuz when you're in that moment, you're not necessarily thinking. I mean, I, I met eight year old boys that were the same age as my own son at home. And I remember this one boy that was on the way to Pokot. He was just this little dirty eight year old boy on the street, and he's standing there all big and tough.
Speaker 1 (41:27):
And I put my arm around him and he, he fell into me. Like just, he wanted love, like he didn't have a mom. He's literally living on the street with other boys.
Speaker 2 (41:38):
Speaker 1 (41:39):
And I, I just came home, and I know that I, I can't save all those boys. I don't even know if I can save one of them. They, they often don't even want to be saved. They don't even know what that means. But I had this burning desire to do more and to help them. And a big reason why I started recording my first online class was because I wanted to be able to have some form of income. So, like, uh, I mean art, the art world is not necessarily, you're not getting a paycheck every week. That does not happen. So, I wanted to have some, a form of a regular income where I could actually follow through on the ideas that I had and how I could help the work that was happening there.
Speaker 2 (42:22):
I remember that. I do remember when you came back from Africa, and we were texting, and you just told me it was mind blowing, and you had so much in your heart that you wanted to do for Africa. And I think that that's a really key part of this interview today, and hearing your story is that, um, people would know that there's so much more to the work you do as an instructor, um, as an artist. That, that there's so much more there behind your drive. It's it's not only about talent it's, it's got heart.
Speaker 1 (42:54):
Yeah. And, and what I've realized since then is that we all have these burning passions. W,e all have messages, and stories, and people we can impact. So what, like even just me, okay... I'll, I'll sell an online class, I'll make some money, I'll send some to Africa, or maybe I'll go back to Africa. That's just me. But now all of a sudden other people, because of this photograph and this painting of the Kenya Girl and learning,
Speaker 2 (43:20):
And learning from you...
Speaker 1 (43:21):
Stepping up their work, they're now burning with their own passions and desires and the stories that are coming out of people like just Steven Walden, who was on the podcast not long ago, like his, the stuff he's doing is just incredible. And there's a whole ton of them. I could list probably 10 off the top of my head of the artists that I know that have since changed. And it's not, it's not, I don't know how to say it, but it's not because of me that any of this has happened. It's...
Speaker 2 (43:49):
It's ripple effect though.
Speaker 1 (43:51):
It's a ripple effect of so many things, but had I not stepped out and did it had, I just said, I'm not important enough, or I don't have a message that's important enough is, is probably it, or my work doesn't matter enough, then I wouldn't have done it. And all of this, you know, all of these ripples would've been nothing. They wouldn't have happened. So...
Speaker 2 (44:14):
Well, I, I often.
Speaker 1 (44:14):
It's incredible really.
Speaker 2 (44:15):
I often joke a little with you about how, when I interview artists, they'll have thank you messages for me to give to Charla. And I, I wanna say though, on behalf of, of everyone who has learned from you, and you've had that ripple effect, thank you for being brave enough and bold enough to go to Africa and let that story, not just live out the story, but to like actually let it pierce your heart and change you and transform you.
Speaker 1 (44:45):
Speaker 2 (44:45):
And so thank you for that and what you've brought back to us and created so that there has been the ripple effect. So, next week in, uh, the continuation of the podcast, we wanna dive a little deeper into a very impactful, I don't wanna say what it is, but, um, something that changed your life.
Speaker 1 (45:04):
It's, it's the moment... You just said, allowing something to pierce my heart. It's I'm gonna tell you about the moment that literally pierced my heart. And I'm going to tell you that I had no choice. Like at that moment, I, it wasn't even my own will at play anymore. And that moment was, uh, oh yeah. Okay. I'll tell you in the next show.
Speaker 2 (45:23):
Okay. We'll see you in the next show, everyone. Thank you so much for being here with us and hearing this powerful story of the Kenya Girl. Um, the portrait, the iconic portrait that we paint at Bold School and for hearing the story and Charla's heart. Thank you for being here with the Bold School podcast, and we'll see you next week. Meanwhile, keep creating.
Speaker 1 (45:44):