Monday, January 28, 2013

True Colors - Painted school in the African bush

Extra - Extra! Housing prices on the rise in Djati, Guinea Bissau - Well, not really, at least not yet, but we are doing some fantastic work out in the bush and I'm sure Djati is becoming the envy of the region. I've heard rumors (just wait till they get their medical clinic!) 


Part One - The Back Story

I hope you had a chance to view my slideshow  about the painted school mural project. I added a few subtitles to give you the general idea about what was going on but there was sooo much more to it than that. Du did an AMAZING job on the school and it was not an easy feat for him to make the trip to Djati to paint the school. Remember, we are talking about Africa and the African bush. 

So I decided to write a little bit about how the Djati painted mural came into being.
"da plane, da plane" Oh, da memories
Last February when I visited Guinea Bissau I had the pleasure of meeting Du Pintor (a fabulous painter and very kind and humble man). I had already purchased several of his paintings and picked up a few more while I was in Africa. I was also very impressed with the mural work he had done for the Casa Emanuel Orphanage. It was colorful, cheerful and really brightened up the grounds plus the children seemed to enjoy it.

 Du's Mural walls @ Casa Emanuel Orphanage in Bissau
Little Dresses for Africa project - Casa Emanuel February 2012

Du & me with new paintings
I learned that Du had a dream of attending college and pursuing his passion for art. This dream seemed out of reach for Du. He doesn't have the finances and right now he works as a Dj and helps to support a large family. He is so talented that I thought how very sad that he did not have the opportunity to have his work more widely shown. Since Guinea Bissau is the 4th poorest country in the world with an ever changing military/government, it has been cut off from participating in things such as art exchanges. As an artist in Guinea Bissau, one is pretty much left to selling one's wares on the streets for very little money and virtually no recognition. Because of governmental restrictions, very few people outside of the area would ever get to see his work.

After I returned home, I was looking at some of the school pictures and thought "wouldn't it be nice if Du could do his magic on this school?" It was a fleeting thought because after all, Du is a "city boy" living in Bissau, some 160 miles away, (has no transportation) and Djati is way the heck out in the bush and is unreachable for a good portion of the year. (I made the trip there by car - and believe me, you don't want to do it if you don't have to!) So I buried the thought...but it kept coming to mind. 

It Takes a Village project - New School Djati, Guinea Bissau February 2012
A couple of months later I brought the idea up to Maritza ( because NOTHING will ever get done if I don’t have her help!) I asked her what she thought and if she could ask Du if he was interested and of course check with the village to see if they even wanted something like that done. A short time later (in Africa time) Maritza got back to me saying that all had agreed and were excited about the project. Now we just had to come up with "the plan". 

Downtown Bissau - capital Guinea Bissau

 Bissau, Guinea Bissau source

I really wanted to do something special for the village and something not associated with our ongoing projects at It Takes a Village and something I did not have to fundraise for. As an artist myself, my thought was that painting the mural on the school in Djati would be a nice way to brighten up the village and the school -- the kids would probably love it too. This would be something they had never seen before, since most of the village kids have not even been to the capital city, only 160 miles away. The painted school idea might also be nice to do on future schools (a real possibility I am contemplating), Du could make some money (maybe enough to take some college classes or maybe even get some recognition outside of Guinea Bissau). So, this idea would be a win-win for everyone. We had Du put together a budget and we worked out the logistics. 

However, by this time, the rainy season was upon us, so we decided to table our idea until the area was dry again and execute our plan in the fall (6 long months away). 

Rainy season in the bush
How we pulled it off - Part 2 tomorrow

No comments: