Uganda through the eyes of a child
The volunteer team in Uganda have done a magnificent job of organising, distributing, coaching, collecting and collating 600 pieces of artwork created by the children from four primary schools and orphanages in the Bududa district of Eastern Uganda.
They are now in the process of selecting the the best 400 of those pictures. Frankly, if it was possible, I would like to get all 600.
Some paintings have been described by the volunteers as just simply "awesome" - but aren't all creations from the imagination of a child "awesome" in one way or another?
They were painted by children from all age groups and backgrounds.
Many were orphans, in full time care. Others live with their family, but their situation is dire.
Life is a day to day struggle, but you don't see it in their faces.
What you do see is intelligence, ambition, pride.
They are not looking for a hand-out. They understand that they need some help, but their underlying determination to be independent means they insist on giving something back.
They are grateful for what they get, but they are not beggars. In this project, they are your partners.
That is why the Hands of Action Art Project caught their imagination in a huge way.
Their handiwork, their efforts, their paintings, the fruits of their imagination, would travel thousands of miles and be admired by countless numbers of foreigners from countries around the world.
To a child, that is huge. Can you remember how proud you were when your parent attached your latest masterpiece to the refrigerator with a magnet? Try for just a second to imagine the excitement in the heart of one these youngsters thinking their effort might actually find a home with a family far, far away, where it will be looked at and appreciated.
Frankly, I doubt many of us have felt that level of excitement in a long, long time.
These children were doing something practical to change the course of their future, something positive. They were trying to take control of their lives. They were engaged.
When they look at those parcels of drawings being loaded on the back of the postal van, they are saying "bon voyage" to their dreams. Not goodbye. They were wishing their "hopes" a safe journey, and a safe arrival.
And for all of this, we should support them. If we have a shred of humanity, we should not disappoint them.
Frankly, Ridealist/Hands of Action needs are not huge.
We need access "pro bono" or for a much reduced charge, access to a high quality scanner. Obviously in Hong Kong.
We need frames. They don't need to be grand... IKEA sells basic frames for about U$8 each..
We need the help of a volunteer web-designer to help create our online gallery / auction site..
And the understanding of the ISP host who will give us a special rate..
We at Ridealist are also on a very steep learning curve, so if anyone out there can see some flaws in our plan.. hesitate not to bring them to our attention!
And we need the owner of a gallery or suitable location here in Hong Kong, and maybe in China, and maybe elsewhere... London, New York, San Francisco.. who will give us the space to hang these pictures for a few days to auction them off in public.
If I can't find someone to donate the cheddar cheese and California wine, I'll use my coupons at Park'n'shop and buy it myself!
For the sake of children we have a responsibility to make this work.
I have described it in the most simple terms I can so you will understand that we are not holding out our hands for a huge donation in order to send a small amount of money back to Uganda. That is not the way we work.
If we approach this in the way we first perceived it - a bit of a guerrilla fundraising campaign - then we'll actually be sending back more than it cost to put it together. And at the end of the day, isn't that the point?
We're counting on you, and look forward to your response.
Chris & Shirley
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