TORONTO -- A 17-year-old boy from Kingston, Ont. was inspired to give back this summer when he saw how the pandemic was impacting African youths’ access to education.

Evan Sharma, the founder of CovART Challenge, decided he wanted to do something to help people in need this summer, and after speaking to friends and watching the news, he decided to put his art to good use in an effort to provide meals to students in Kenya.

The project started with Sharma and eight other artists donating pieces for the auction, and then challenging two other artists to donate pieces, who would in turn challenge two additional artists to donate, and so on.

“I realized Africa wasn’t being hit hardest in terms of the case numbers, but because of the impact that the pandemic was having on education there,” Sharma told CTV News Channel on Saturday.

He also has a personal connection to the continent, with his grandparents hailing from Egypt and Kenya.

“I really felt it necessary to help out there,” he said.

Artists from across Canada, in the U.S., and in Africa have donated pieces to the challenge and the public can bid on them. The funds will go towards feeding thousands of children in Kenya through a partnership with Flying Kites, a non-profit organization that helps a network of students in Kenya. 

“We’ve already raised enough for 150,000 meals through these art pieces,” he said.

His own piece, a painting of Nelson Mandela painted over an underpainting of a young Mandela in prison on Robben Island, is up for auction. He said he wanted to tell a story with the piece and used the layering technique to do so.

And it’s not too late to participate in the challenge, you can still make bids on available pieces and artists can submit their portfolios at until Tuesday, March 9 at 12 p.m. EST.