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I sit outside my little room each day wondering where most of us really go after a successful journey through art. I also think about how most of the famous artists in the world (musicians, photographers, etc.) not from Kibera are so successful while the most talented in the slums remain back home struggling their way out. Being an artist has been a blessing for me, knowing what I want each time I get hold of my camera, walking around the streets of my community each day before sunrise and even late after sunset. Not many artists are able to continue their pursuits and many who don’t end up being successful go missing while trying out different ways of survival. As an artist, there is no one to support you financially.
Personally, I’ve been through a stressful situation that hasn’t been easy to overcome. I fell in love with photography back in 2007 and I’ve struggled through mental illness because of it. I have often experienced depression trying to make it as a photographer but not having the resources or opportunities to go work. I often feel like I am not recognized as an artist because of where I come from. People see my images on Instagram but don’t know the struggles I went through to create them. I have often wanted to give up.
Most artists from Kibera die while trying. Making it out of the slums is not easy. They have no one to counsel them. To cope with their stress, they end up doing drugs and alcohol. Some of them commit suicide. That is why I started my program TAMI (Talking Art and Mental Illness) to give opportunities to youths to express their emotions and deal with their stress through art. I want to bring in mental health professionals and artists who have made it out of poverty to talk to the youths and encourage them.
I want to make my family proud before I get my own family someday. I want to have a job that pays me well and make myself the man people are looking up to. I don’t want to be just the Don Wilson people see around here, but the Don Wilson who can support fellow artists to understand themselves and help the fight through mental illness. I want to be the white man in my own society.