At Art & Global Health Center Africa (ArtGlo)’s core is the belief that creativity, innovation, collaboration, and empowerment are critical to grassroots social change. All of ArtGlo’s programmes have developed organically out of the needs and assets of the communities they serve.
After seeing the incredible impact that the arts could have on some of Malawi’s biggest social challenges, participatory-arts specialists Dr. Galia Boneh and Sharifa Abdulah founded Art & Global Health Center Africa in 2013.
Dr. Boneh devoted her PhD research to develop a unique model to engage artists and people living with HIV in a collaborative creative process. In 2008, she was supported by the UCLA's Center for Global Health, who invited her and Iddi Saaka to develop her creative work further for Malawi's top university, Chancellor College. By engaging the College’s drama students and individuals living with HIV/AIDS in rural communities, this model became reality, and their work culminated in a film, This Is My Story.
Inspired by the project’s success, Dr. Boneh returned to teach at Chancellor College as a Fulbright Scholar in 2011. Partnering with Sharifa Abdulla, one of the students who had performed in This Is My Story, they launched Make Art / Stop AIDS (MASA). MASA used a theatre for development approach to break the social, cultural and structural barriers to HIV testing, treatment, and care.
During that time, inspired by protests around academic freedom at Chancellor College, Dr. Boneh’s students launched a series of innovative, arts-based advocacy projects that formed the basis of a new youth leadership programme, Students with Dreams (SWD). SWD provides college students with training, mentorship and seed funding to develop innovative projects that address pressing social issues.
A number of Dreamer projects gradually grew into independent programmes or organisations. The documentary film “Umunthu: An African Response to Homosexuality,” for example, evolved into another new programme, Umunthu, that uses the arts to catalyse reflection and discussion and provide a platform to address issues of stigma and discrimination against LGBTI individuals through the lens of “umunthu,” a pan-African philosophical concept of shared humanity.
In 2013, with the intent of converging all these successfully programmes into one place and committed to continue the organic development of programmese based on the needs and assets of communities, Dr. Boneh and Sharifa Abdulla, MA channeled their creative energy into forming ArtGlo.
In 2018, ArtGlo celebrated its 5 year anniversary, having made a significant impact on the lives of thousands of change makers who have joined them in their quest to use creativity, innovation, collaboration, and ownership to achieve grassroots social change.