Spreading Joy Through Art

I Went To Africa And Came Back Changed. Apparently this happens to many. Invited to do social media reporting for Hope Chest & Children'ts Hope Chest throughout Swaziland and Rwanda I jumped at the once in a lifetime opportunity. 

Children's HopeChest and Hope International are faith-based organizations passionate about improving the lives of the impoverished in Africa. Much of the discussion was of, even if you believe you have nothing, start somewhere, give what you have, everyone has something to give, and they quoted a biblical allegory that says if you have olive oil in your home, sell your olive oil, and more would manifest. I am not religious in the traditional sense, but this moved me. It is in something called 2 Kings 4:

The Widow's Olive Oil

The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”

Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”

But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”

Well, from my heart - what I had in my home in a sense - what I had to give was art. This was a gift I was given that feels fabulous to share. I have the ability to draw, quickly and on the spot. So I thought, maybe these Swazi orphans would enjoy being drawn?My sponsors heartily agreed. We passed by the only art supply store in Manzini (a stationery store) and picked up materials.

You can see here the results of our first stop at Care Point Ntabas. That was followed by a 'Fun Day' celebration at Care Point Ekhudzeni, and a visit to Care Point Mangwaneni, among others. The response was overwhelmingly positive. It was like creating magic for them, making something appear out of nowhere, the magic of art. And these seemingly invisible children loved being noticed. They seemed to enjoy being appreciated for existing. And they too can draw with these basic materials of pencil and paper. I also learned about the inbuilt selfish part of helping and giving - helping others makes the givers feel good and more fulfilled too, another branch of your tree watered, a win/win as they say.

Thinking of starting a not- for-profit, "Spreading Joy Through Art." What do you think?

SWAZILAND

While in Swaziland we visited numerous Care Points that Children's HopeChest had founded. Swaziland has a population of 1,200,000, but 500,000 of them are orphans under 10 due to the AIDS epidemic. There are very few adults around between 30 and 60, a bizarre feeling. Helping the orphans through these care points is one of Children's Hope Chest's huge accomplishments.


RWANDA

These sketches below are of survivors of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Many of them are helped by Hope International by starting businesses through micro-financing. 20% of the Rwandan population has been significantly helped by Hope's micro-financing programs. You would not believe it, $20 is enough to set someone up to start a viable business.

I also was fortunate enough to sketch the President of Rwanda, and have my drawing presented to His Excellency Paul Kigame. Quite a trip.