Friday, 6 April 2012

Rainbows and Second Chances

My brother Stefan Eicher (not to be confused with a certain Swiss crooner) does many things.  Being a great Dad for Ashish, Anjali and the newly minted Amira is one full time job.  Another one is running the Reflection Art Studio which is one of the projects of the Art for Change Foundation that Stefan and his wife Neeru helped set up.

One of the activities of the Art For Change Foundation is the 'Made to Create' team which teaches and immerses diverse groups of learners into the wonderful world of creativity.  Here is a recent art expedition that the Made to Create team did to Sewa Ashram in North Delhi.

Sewa Ashram is a community of the destitute which Stefan and Neeru have been involved in over the years.  It is an intentional community made up largely of men who have been rejected by all others - but have found a shelter to rebuild their lives in a place of acceptance and change.

I came across this series of pictures taken by Timothy Gomez with commentary by Stefan - and have imported it lock, stock and barrel into 'Chai Chats'.  Enjoy as Stefan steps up to the mic and takes us on a tour with the 'Made to Create' team:

One beautiful brother's 'colour flower'. The theme of last week's visit to Sewa Ashram (the community of destitute we visit each month) was the rainbow: exploring colour and the hope we have in God's promises and second chances He gives us.

On the way to Sewa Ashram, Shalem, who coordinates our 'Made to Create' project, hands out the day's lesson plans to the team.

Our destitute friends are waiting for us in the chapel.

Nirakar kicks off with an exercise getting everyone to write their name using their favourite colour. Half of the guys are illiterate so we have them make a small drawing instead, using their favourite colour.

After I've told the story of Noah's ark, speaking of the God of second chances, and the rainbow as a symbol of the hope we have because of who God is, Nirakar hands out paper and has everyone try mixing colours and make a colour wheel, shaped like a 'colour-flower.'

Hard at work on their 'colour flowers.'

I noticed one of the destitute friends sitting quietly without any paper and when I asked him he simply said: "This is not for me, I have never done it, I am not able to do it." I drew a circle and had him add smaller circles to make a flower. Soon he had a whole garden. I asked him how he felt about it. He broke out in this beautiful smile and said he liked what he had created. I shared with the group how he was evidence that we are 'made to create' because God is Creator.

Nirakar then gets everyone to work on a painting about something that gives them hope, just as the rainbow is a sign of hope.

Through simple exercises it's amazing to see signs of the beauty buried in our broken brothers.

Meanwhile in another part of the campus Shalem and Huma are doing the same lesson with about thirty children from a nearby slum who attend a small school run by Sewa Ashram.

 Shalem explaining the task.

Hard at work.

Happy rainbows!

And a proud Habib!

Back with the men, the painting continues.

Once everyone is done we have them share about their paintings, what they made and why.

A rainbow flower.

While setting up at the beginning, Muhammed had shared with me that he was a cycle-rickshaw driver who ended up at Sewa Ashram because of being stabbed in his side by people who robbed him of Rs.1500 and left him to die. By the end of our session he had painted a beautiful rainbow-roofed house.
I give everyone a better view of Muhammed's painting which he explained as follows: "The dark spot in the lower left corner was my life on the streets before. This house is my dream, it symbolizes my hope since coming to Sewa Ashram where I have found new life."

1 comment:

  1. Way to go Muhammed, cheerio !!
    It is all about Hope.
    Andi, Thanks for sharing.