Thursday, May 21, 2009

everyday picasso

Every afternoon any number of village kids come round to play.  I can't tell if they are coming to play with M or because we are fairly new and have toys they've not yet played with, I hope it's the former but I think it's also the latter. One of the kids who comes over is a boy I'll call G.  He's adorable, he's 8 years old and has lived in this little village his whole life.  As is common here his mother has to travel long distances for work so he's often being watched by cousins or other family and has a lot of time on his hands.

I've decided there are two reasons he comes over, one is to use our bathroom and the other is to color with M's colored pencils.  He will sit for hours and color in silence, using coloring books we have on hand and every so often he'll bring the picture he's working on over to me for my review. We even brought him one from the States and he finished the entire book in a few days.  

I was watching him last night and he looked up and saw me, a shy smile on his face.  I decide I have nothing to lose. You know, G, you are an artist.  Does anyone ever say that to you? And he shakes his head no. Well then, you should know I see that you are.  And he smiles and shows me his picture and he is so serious, his lines and shading are just so.  I ask him if he ever draws without lines and he nods his head.  I get him some paper.  Let me see what you can do and off he goes, studiously bent over the sheet of paper.  He comes back awhile later and I see he's drawn a sun.  I knew it, I said. I knew you were an artist.  He smiles and I ask him if he gets to draw in school or if there are any art classes and he shakes his head no.  I ask him if he has colors at home and again he shakes his head.  You come here to draw, don't you and he looks down at his feet.  It's okay if you do, G. Everybody needs a place to work on their art and you can come here whenever you want.  Thanks, he says.  I will go now but maybe I come back tomorrow. If it's okay with your family it's okay with me I say. As he's leaving M screeches goodbye and asks what we were talking about.  I tell her knowing G can hear me G's an artist. He is an artist and artists have to create.  There are no two ways about it.  I see him puff up a bit before he looks down again.  I like this kid G.

I don't know this kid's potential but I know he's not getting to exercise it.  His family struggles daily to meet basic needs and the village school has no extras, I see how it is and I see why and at the same time I sit and wonder if I gave him a box of art supplies and found a way to bring art classes to the village I wonder what might come from it, I wonder how many Gs live here and are simply never allowed to flourish the way they need to, to allow the color to come from their fingers and onto the page. And I wonder what can be done about it.

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23 comments:

Gwen said...

And I had some punk American kid with clean clothes and a shiny iPod tell me he had to sell drugs or he would starve. As if.

The things we could learn about true poverty ....

Perhaps *you* are what's being done, Jen, for G and for the other kids.

painted maypole said...

I like this girl Jen.

Simplicity said...

You have a fan over here in Canada! Standing up and clapping loud for you! That is one of the nicest things I've read in a long time!! WONDERFUL!!!

kristen said...

dude, art classes in the jungle. YES! you inspire me. xo

Jenny said...

Could this be the door you were looking for? Creating opportunities for children?

Magpie said...

I thought what Jenny thought - this could be your door.

Amber said...

I'm tearing up over here. I agree with the others, this might be the work you are there to do. Bring art to people who desperately need it.

Either way, G is lucky to have you, and you're lucky to have him.

kristin said...

I needed someone like you when I was little. Bless you. Is there a way I can send down some art supplies?

Minnie said...

What an amazing gift you're giving G. I don't necessarily mean in the tangible supplies you're providing, but in the form of encouragment.

meno said...

There you go. Looking around, seeing needs, filling them.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Hmmmm. I'm thinking you might start up an after-school program for budding artists. Or draftspeople. And you need supplies. I'll get right on it!

Amy Y said...

Look at you, still making a difference.
He's lucky to have you!

Mebsmommy said...

You have already changed the trajectory of this little boy's life. How wonderful of you to be willing to share such an intimate moment. I guess that is why you moved to the jungle ..... to be in tune with yourself and available to say what is so often left silent.

Would you allow a donation of craft supplies for G? I would be honored to donate.

Seattle Mamacita said...

i think of how amazing your own daughter's experience will be here..learning what it means to create community and opportunity through such an amazing mama like you

marymurtz said...

This killed me. I want to gather up all my art supplies and send them to this child. I remember people saying things to me like you said to G. He will never forget you, Jen. never.

Blog Antagonist said...

Sometimes, a kid just needs someone else to say it out loud. You are going to be a HUGE influence in his life. You are are.

Jennifer (Faking It) said...

Just sent you an email, babe. :)

mommyknows said...

I'd love to 'sponsor' some artists :) Do you have paypal?

Ms. H said...

Ms. H sees a door, as well. Because Ms. H is such a sap, she thinks Jen should send her an email with an art supply-friendly address.

;)

maggie, dammit said...

I want you around my kids.

(And I'd be happy to send art supplies if you decide to organize something again....)

Kim said...

When he is grown he will remember you, and your words, regardless of what he has decided to do with his art.

You changed him.

Forever.

You are wonderful and all that are priveledged to know you personally are blessed.

hele said...

i also think this is your door.

i can't send money or supplies as i am desperately broke but i do have a lot of information on environmental education/art/writing exercises to do with children.and some how to plant gardens with kids stuff as well.

as soon as my holidays start i was planning to put together a program. i would happily forward it to you :D

krista said...

so i think i'm kind of stating the obvious here...but have you thought about starting up art classes for the kids there on your own? you have the support from all of us here to get you information on projects and to send supplies.
(i feel silly since i'm sure you've thought about this...but a couple of ideas pop in my head regarding some "art shows" here where we sell the kids' art (we could turn their art into greeting cards for the holidays)either online or through a fundraiser here and the funds go to the village and the schools there. i don't know...i'm just thinking with my fingertips)