In March and April this year I travelled to the village of Chainda in Zambia with the Director of the charity, Our Rainbow House, to volunteer and teach art at a small school for 45 orphans in the centre of the village. The experience was, at the risk of cliche, life changing and has left my heart firmly cemented in that extraordinary country on that breathtaking continent. I cannot thank Our Rainbow House and those that supported me to make this happen enough.
The introduction of the Arts Programme went so well. During this trip, the children at the school concentrated on colour and colour mixing. I will never forget the way their faces lit up, with gasps of surprise and laughter, when they saw, as if by magic, red and yellow turn to orange. There are so many stories that I still find myself still trying to catch up on in diaries and memories and by sorting through over a 1000 photos. For those interested, I’ve included below an extract from my diary on Saturday, 12 April to give you a sense of my days in Chainda.
Now that I’m back, I’m already planning my return to Chainda to continue the Arts Programme in February 2015. In the meantime I will continue to work hard at fundraising and putting together paintings for an exhibition which I plan to hold at the end of the year in Melbourne (I’m currently searching for the right location). I will be putting images of these paintings on the website over the coming months as I put the collection together.
As part of my fundraising efforts I held a raffle to win one of my paintings just before I left – the draw for those of you who bought tickets will be in July and I will be in touch to let you know the result. I will also continue my Open Studios with the next one being in August – I will let you know the exact dates soon.
There is so much more to tell you all about my experiences at this amazing school for 45 orphans, in a desperately poor village of over 6000 orphans. In such a place, it is all too easy to feel that you are not making a difference, however I take great joy in knowing that for those 45 little lives we have.
Accordingly I want to thank everyone who supported me to get out to Zambia through their encouragement and donations and also for their gifts towards Our Rainbow House and the Arts Programme!
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa
Thank you all so much.
SATURDAY, 12 APRIL: A week has gone by since my last diary entry. Time passes filled with busy, busy days and emotions run high constantly (but often in a positive way with laughter and sometimes tears of joy rather than sorrow).
My last entry detailed my visits to the homes of the guardians and parents of the children at the school – a reality check really, as I came away distressed by some of the things I both saw and heard. I am not sure how they do it, but I guess they know little else or perhaps no different their only comparison is to those of their neighbour.
I am now sitting here on an overcast morning at our outside desk looking across our compound. A new shelter is being built as an additional outside classroom. The compound is fairly quiet for now, the only sounds being the constant throb of music from the town in the distance and the odd laughter and chatter from children playing and a baby crying on the other side if the compound wall.
Out there is another world. It’s a world of 26,000 people on 5 hectares crammed together in tiny mud houses that start to disintegrate in the rain as the mud on the bottom layer of bricks washes away. These houses that collapse remain collapsed as many of their inhabitants do not have the money to rebuild. Interspersed within all this are the slightly larger breeze block houses (some even having glass windows). The streets are strewn with rubbish, plastic bottles, missing shoes, even the odd bit of clothing, plastic bags and old beer cartons that held the potent brew that many seem to drink at the bars late into the night.