Makuleke Artwork at the Museum of Modern Art, NYC

Sharing to Learn has teamed with the Museum of Modern Art to bring toys from Makuleke, South Africa — crafted by hand with found materials — to the museum for inclusion in their ambitious Century of the Child exhibit, which runs through November 5.

Children in Makuleke begin creating their own toys at an early age. They scavenge for old wires at dumping sites scattered around the village, finding precious materials with which they construct playthings.  What they want and need, they make – with their very own hands.  And their innovations are not just functioning toys, but also beautiful works of art.  Sharing to Learn was proud to lend 6 of these works of art, including a wire car made by Tuki, a 16-year old child from the village, to the MoMA.  We were elated that the exhibit would provide a platform for thousands of people from all corners of the globe to discover what we already know: there is poverty in Makuleke village, but also talent, innovative problem-solving, and unfettered imagination.  The objects on display at the MoMA are brought to life through a video installation, which showcases children and teachers in Makuleke creating their toys.

In July, Sharing To Learn sponsored Tuki’s trip to NYC, so that he could see his work of art, and those of his friends, on display at the MoMA.  He had never been to a museum in his life; that his first experience was at the MoMA admiring his own artwork, s proof that dreams do come true.

A Makuleke Preschool Teacher holding handcrafted dolls, one of which is on display at MoMA.

Click below to see a short video produced by BBC News, covering Tuki’s arrival to NYC, as well as his visit to The Museum of Modern Art:

Click this link to see the video of 11-year old Kuhlula making a wire car, which is currently part of the STL video installation at the MoMA.

The Century of the Child closes on November 5th, but you can still explore the exhibit through MoMA’s website (skip to the end if you want to see the work from the village first!):


Virtual Exhibit of MoMA’s ‘Century of the Child’ – Click to see Makuleke Artwork on Display!

Check out the MoMA’s interactive website for Century of the Child – if you can’t make it to the exhibit, this is a great way to see the show virtually.  Click the link below to enter the virtual exhibit and see the beautiful wire car, made by children in Makuleke Village.

Tuki’s Journey from Makuleke to NYC – Covered by BBC News

Many of my friends know the story of Tuki of Makuleke Village, who became my son a few years ago when he asked if he could call me “mom.”  He is just one of many beautiful children that I am proud to know, to love and to share my life with.  He has grown up very poor, like many others growing up in rural South Africa.  He was orphaned at an early age; he grew up fending for himself and raised by his siblings, children themselves.  He has known many struggles in his sixteen years of life, yet through adversities he has learned the art of resilience and resourcefulness.

Tuki and his friends grew up making their own toys.   They would scavenge for old wires at dumping sites scattered around the village, finding precious materials with which they could construct playthings.  What they wanted and needed they made – with their very own hands.  And their innovations are not just functioning toys, but also beautiful works of art.  Sharing to Learn was so proud to lend 6 of these works of art, including a wire car made by Tuki and his friends, to The Museum of Modern Art, for inclusion in the Century of the Child exhibit.  We were elated that the exhibit would provide a platform for thousands of people from all corners of the globe to see how talented the children in the village are.  We wanted others to also experience what we knew: there is so much talent in Makuleke village, in spite of poverty.  Poverty creates a need for innovation.

In July, Sharing To Learn sponsored Tuki’s trip to NYC so that he could see his work of art at the MoMA.  Tuki and I had been dreaming of the possibility of him visiting me in NYC since we first met in 2008.  Having his work of art on display at one of the most prestigious museums in the world was the impetus to make that dream happen.  The BBC heard about Tuki’s journey to NYC and decided to tag along for his arrival, as well as his visit to the MoMA.  Have a look at this video to see a snippet of Tuki’s visit.  His experience in NYC was full of firsts (first time in a park, first time walking on a bridge, first time eating a pancake, first time seeing a dog on a leash, first time eating sushi, first time in a yellow cab).

Watch as he visits a museum for the first time – to see his own work of art.  Watch to see a story of making dreams come true.

- Denise, Founder of Sharing to Learn

Wire Glasses – Toys made by Children of Makuleke Village

Aaron, a middle school student in Harlem, wears glasses made by a friend in Makuleke Village.  These glasses are currently showcased in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC!  Children in Makuleke Village are incredibly resourceful and create their own handmade toys out of recycled materials found at local dumping sites.  STL is proud to share their skills and innovations.  Be sure to visit the Century of the Child exhibit at the MoMA in NYC to see these glasses and five other works of art, along with video footage of children making art!

Friendship Around the Globe: Kids Supporting Kids


We are so proud of 8-year old Sarah, of New York City, for raising the money to help support her new friend Adolf, of Makuleke Village, South Africa!  Sarah has been saving money for over a year to raise the funds to sponsor an orphan from Makuleke.  When Sarah realized that she would be connected to an 8-year old boy in the village, she exclaimed with joy, “I’ve always wanted a brother and now I have one!”  The money she raised will go towards Sharing to Learn’s Mentor Program for orphaned and vulnerable children.  With Sarah’s support, Adolf will receive a nutritional food support each month, as well as clothing and shoes to attend school.  More than that, it is an opportunity for Sarah and her family to build a long lasting relationship with a deserving child on the other side of the globe!

Sarah counts the money that she has saved to sponsor a child in the village.

Sarah wrote a letter to Adolf introducing herself; she is also sending him one of her favorite stuffed animals!

Like Sarah, Adolf is also in Grade 3 and loves math!  We are hopeful that one day they will meet in person!

On Display at the MoMA: Art Objects Made by Children from Makuleke Village

Children of the impoverished Makuleke Village, South Africa, rely on their innovation to create toys.  This wire car was made by Tshepo (“Tuki”), Rally and Mawisa, three teenagers that have been a part of Sharing to Learn since its establishment.  This car  reflects their creativity, as well as their ability to find ways to recycle discarded materials found at village dumping sites.  Sharing to Learn has lent the Museum of Modern Art this wire car, along with 5 other village art objects, for inclusion in the ambitious ‘Century of the Child’ exhibit.

Click this link to see the video of 11 year old Kuhlula making a wire car which is currently part of a video installation at the MoMA.

Come to the museum to see more videos of children making artwork out of recycled materials. Sharing to Learn loaned the MoMA 6 art objects, which will be on display until November 4.

16 year old Tuki, an amazing artist from Makuleke Village, admires his artwork on display at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC!

a message of hope & resilience

“When we unite, we remember we are equal. We unite through our dreams. Unity is the key to our success. Changing worlds, changing people.” – the beautiful mural at the Polo Grounds Housing Project, Harlem

sweet ayliana

As the library at Polo Grounds Community Center in Harlem unfolds, I am realizing more and more how creating a library is not only creating a culture of reading, but it is also creating a culture of love, trust and deep support.  Each day, I enlist the help of the children of the community.  They come in small groups, or on their own, and help me sort through new books, group them into sets, label them and set them on the shelves of their emerging community library.  They own the process of creating their own reading environment, they respect it, they love it.  All the while, while labeling and sorting, the children share their lives with me and I treasure this time so greatly – the thoughts and insights of children – what could be more wise or pure?  Ayliana, my sweet friend pictured below, stayed with me for an hour and a half yesterday, diligently working, happily sharing, sitting with me, side by side.  As we worked, we shared our dreams with one another.  We talked about things that make us happy, things that inspire us, our hopes and sometimes our fears.  I learned she is a fabulous dancer, she loves her family, she is an amazing artist, she prefers love to shouting.  We became great friends in the ninety minutes we spent together and realized how many things we have in common.  Regardless of age, our dreams and interests are the same.  Not only did Ayliana help to prepare her own community library, she also helped remind me once more the importance of listening to a child, of being a friend.

The exciting work unfolding at the Polo Grounds is a collaboration with the amazing organization, LitWorld:


Yesterday, while working on the LitWorld Initiative ( to set up a community library for the  Polo Grounds Community Center in Harlem, I had the great pleasure of having some great help from Remsy.  He had volunteered to come down from his after-school class and help me prepare new books.  He was the only one that wanted to come and help and I was so lucky that it was he who wanted to be there with me.  Quiet at first, and serious about doing his work, he quickly warmed up to me and my quirky comments on everything about life.  I considered myself so very lucky to not only have much needed help in preparing the books, but also to have the opportunity to get to know this child and have him share his life with me.  I asked Remsy for his opinion on our book order selection for adolescents.  Did he think other boys would like to read books about sports, mysteries or scary stories?  Did he think that it was a good idea to have books in Spanish at our library?  What kinds of books did he most like to read?  Why?  He told me he loves to write stories; he likes writing the stories about his own life.  I told him I would love to read them. Over the course of an hour, Remsy shared his thoughts and ideas with me and worked very hard to help me.  He took the time to be with me and he reminded me again and again of the importance in spending one-on-one time with a child, letting them know that their thoughts are important, that they themselves are important.