Every child in our class is a “Slumdog Millionair”. They were not waiting around to win the lottery to get out of the slums, they earned their smiles by making a choice in life! They choose to find happiness regardless of the outside circumstances that are out of their control. They are millionaires of love! You can feel it in their joy and see it in their art! This last week the youth drew their designs, made their mosaics and painted their backgrounds without anyone telling them they cannot do something.
At the Surat airport in Western India Robert Markey and I were welcomed by Sagar and his incredible team from the NGO Pathshala NGO; a group of young adults who are “fighting against a ticking clock” to bring as much beauty into the world and into the hearts of the underrepresented youth as possible, before the pressures from society and family push them into marriage and the traditional lifestyle. These courageous volunteers of Pathshala work every day to plant the seeds of change,
We stepped foot into the abandoned hospital in Athens, Greece, and found Syrian refugee youth running around with photocopies of their hands and faces in distorted positions. They were having so much fun with the Spanish volunteers and the Xerox machine. Around Greece, hotels and vacant buildings have been converted into temporary refugee housing. During the introductory meeting with the director we learned that almost all of the hundred and sixty Syrians residing in this old hospital were mothers and children,
There are many paths to arrive at the same destination. Although our team is accustomed to roughing it and sleeping just about anywhere along the journey of life, one week ago we climbed aboard a large ferry and were escorted to a cabin with beds and hot showers. A unique experience for us all, and a perfect opportunity to rest up on the overnight cruz to the island of Lesbos, Greece, before a huge amount of work. The refugees, on the other hand,
The warden opened the gates of the prison and we entered, using colors as our currency. We shared a powerful day painting with bank robbers, smugglers and drug dealers, behind the bars, inside the prison, in the mountains of Northern Greece. At the end of the day we returned toHabibi.Works Creative Center to find that 30 stranded Iraqi refugees sat in the downstairs of Habibi.Works. Our temporary home, thanks to our hospitable German hosts,
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,
From Ashes to Life – Entry 16
Less than a decade ago mutilated dead bodies of Northern Uganda were dragged by the hundreds and thrown atop of one another into mass graves; however, when all feels lost in the abyss of hopelessness heroic flames of pure intention emerge to illuminate the damp, dark caves. The sickening pile of horrific sins stacked upon the womb of Mother Nature disintegrates one brushstroke at a time. Rather than corpses, this region now piles art,
A stitched in the heart of Africa – Entry 15
As the red dust of Eastern Africa levitates behind our Indian motorcycle, lightening rips through the approaching skies. An echo of white light, the seasonal mask shifts from sunshine to torrential downpour and the internal storm tearing through the colorless flesh, exposing the skeleton within the forgotten finger of humanity. After 27 kilometers of navigating through the red lakes, the captain of this arc on two wheels is the first to be swallowed by the dangerous conditions.
Forgiven But Not Forgotten – Entry 14
301 innocent souls were buried on top of one another in a mass grave after Kony brutally attacked the refugee camp of Borlonyo in 2004. Moses, the clan leader, was sadly not able to part the waters to save his people this time. With his eyes cast to the ground, his heart buried beneath the soil with loved ones, he shared with us the account of the horrific day where he himself lost 17 family members.
Children of Peace – Entry 13
The roads to terror transform into clouds of dust-love as the white, government issued 4 x 4 dyed red, transports jerry cans, art supplies, mattresses and three strangers towards the final month of the Mami Wata Art Therapy Project with a common intention of serving as many children of war as physically possible. One last visit to the compound of Friends of Orphans was written within the blood washed Earth; with open ears our vehicle slowed to a halt in front of the gates of education and hope.