Art Building Children’s Dreams is an organization that provides financial assistance to schools and families at risk, by using children’s art to raise funds for their education and community development.
As part of the twelve volunteer Canadian team, I went to Tanzania to be an art teacher. I designed a mandala for the students to paint. Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘lotus blossom’ and cultures from all over the world draw them. As well as an art form, the mandala is about the process of healing.
The Tanzania Mandala was designed with images that would be easily recognizable by the children and for their specific meaning. The torch is Tanzania’s symbol for freedom. The butterfly personifies transformation and willingness to change. The elephant represents strength and patience. The Baobab tree exemplifies shelter, food, water and fire.
Amedusi wants to be a doctor. He is 13 years old. He lives alone, sleeps in the home of his deceased parents and goes to his grandmothers for food. It is difficult for me to fathom this type of life and imagine his dream as a reality.
Working with these children taught me to be with what is. Limiting my thinking of a situation as difficult is grounded in a belief that promotes judgement. This belief system requires something to be ‘ugly’ for us to recognize beauty.
The giraffe doesn’t think that that rhino is more beautiful or uglier than it is. They are devoid of judgement. The children of Tanzania taught me to be more aware of compartmentalizing everything as good or bad; right or wrong.
I became the student, and with this new perception, I can view John as the healer he wants to be and offer encouragement without attaching an outcome.
Artcures Inc. will soon have prints of painted mandalas available suitable for framing with proceeds donated to ABCD.
Visit www.artcures.ca for more information.
Herbert Pryke is founder of Artcures Inc. an Aurora based non profit organization that believes in the power of art to restore, repair and renew.