Mami Wata: Heal the Children of War Through Art: Entry 17

A Conclusion of Colorful Resurrection – Entry 17

Will you lay on your death bed wishing that you had done something different with your life? When children are forced to murder their family, laugh at a severed head stuck on pole, eat a friend alive… and after it all find the courage to forgive, we must ask ourselves: “What are you NOT willing to risk to find inner freedom?” It was my pleasure to exchange a broken rib, a ripped tendon in my left knee, and gift the red Earth the flesh of my pinky finger torn from the bone for the opportunity to share the colors of love with 750 survivors of these horrific wars. By taking the leap of faith one dream became the dream of hundreds and the Mami Wata Art Therapy Project has touches countless lives around the world. The sun has now set over my final day of this life long dream; two wings carry me through the darkness over Africa. The light within each glowing soul guides me into the next chapter of life.

This miraculous journey completes a full circle as my psyche undergoes the closing interviews in the identical corner of the Johannesburg International airport that I spent my first evening in Africa. Five months and 8 days ago I arrived in Africa with a vision: “To be the example I wish to see in the world.” It is not about trying to save the world, it is about loving the world. Over the years I have learned that fear is not the enemy, it is the opportunity. “Fearing fear is like fighting fire with fire, but loving the fear and consciously stepping into this fear with courage and respect will set us free.” The children of the Mami Wata Project embody this wisdom and want to share it with the world. I carry some of their visions of freedom, peace and love, on my back even now with the intention of inspiring the western world to remember how blessed we are, celebrate life with gratitude and join the action towards freedom for all. The fires of Central Africa are burning bright and will continue to be stoked with the timber of creativity freedom long after my departure. Thousands of paintings have been completed by the hands of the underrepresented. THE MIRACLE OF CREATION WAS IGNITED FROM THE FIRST MOMENT THE CHILDREN HAD EVER TOUCHED A PAINTBRUSH.

In addition to the amazing work NGO CAMME RDC is already doing, they have enthusiastically embraced art therapy and are currently implementing it into their permanent curriculum! David, a former student artist and Jack, the psychologist on staff, work together merging the psychological field with the power of artistic expression. Shira Shvadron arrived to the project in Lira with three weeks remaining, shared her soul long after the last brushstroke and has been so inspired that she is now working to acquire a visa for the Democratic Republic of Congo with the intention of adding a heart full of love, a brilliant artistic eye and her wise hands to the incredible intention of the Lunanga family and NGO Camme to bring service to the forgotten children. Thank you!

Thomas at the NGO FRIENDS OF ORPHANS in Padertown, Northern Uganda, translated the lessons of the Mami Wata Art Therapy Project nearly every day for one month. He has suffered at the hands of the Lords Resistance Army as a child soldier twice recounting stories that will leave you with nightmares. “When I was escaping I vowed that I would shoot anything that got in the way. Only with a gun could a man pave his way back then.” He ran alone from the Sudanese border all the way home at the age of 15. He found his faith and calling in life thereafter, and now says with a beautiful glow in the eye and lips curved upward, “The paintbrush is more powerful than the gun!” He has committed to continuing on the art therapy in the Pader district. We love you THOMAS!

Throughout this project it has been a true blessing to receive a number of interested parties, among them is Jarevic, from VSO, who has become a good friend. He asked me if I would consider staying in Uganda and spreading Art Therapy across the country, working as an external service provider in the psycho-social support sector. All domestic transportation, living expenses and art supplies would be funded by VSO. It is a great honor; however, my life is guiding me in another direction at the moment. Instead, I connected him with NGO CHILDREN OF PEACE UGANDA and they are currently discussing the opportunity to spread art therapy to the citizens of Lira District, Pader District and Gulu District… three of the regions of Uganda most effected by the war for the past 30+ years. SamSam, the psychologist who accompanied my team each day in the communities has adopted the curriculum I revised over the passed 4 months, stemming from my work over the passed twelve years, and he is excited to share this through his future work. He is a committed, intelligent, loving man who inspired trust within the youth daily and taught us so much. AMAZING!

This project has been truly successful in the quality of time spent with inspired souls in the process of deep healing, the number of children we have touched and who have touched us, the promotion of art therapy in the field of psychology, and the SUSTAINABILITY long after the “Mazungus” leave. YES! YES! YES! I have been touched forever and carry the strength of the youth that have blessed me with their presence everywhere I go! Thank you CHILDREN!!! Gratitude beams out of me with the thought of all those who have come together to make this dream become a reality larger than life itself. Thank you Jacquie for your labor of love throwing a Yogathon in Victoria and finding the courage to show up here in Africa thereafter, overcoming all odds. Thank you Steven for your friendship and work on both fronts. Thank you Lennard for being REAL and throwing the beautiful dance evening in Victoria, BC where we danced our hearts out for ourselves and the love of humanity. Thank you Emma Tall and Emma Small, Seka and Chad; thank you Luc for your unconditional support throughout my life, Loren, Kendra, Katy, Rio, Ndidi and the entire Family around the world. Thank you MOM, DAD, LINDA, ARIEL, ADAM, ASHER AND JOSHUA! Thank you Savior Faire; we were able to leave over six months worth of art supplies in all three locations! Thank you Chartpak, 2nd Ascent, and Artist & Craftman. THANK YOU EVERYONE!

WE HAVE DONE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!