Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Taking a Walk-About

"Blowing Bubbles"
colored pencil on mat board
12 x 15"

This will be my last post until after Easter, March 24, as I will be flying down to Bolivia tomorrow for a bit of charity work. This has been in the works since December, at least for me, and I am thrilled to have this chance to maybe make a wee contribution somewhere in the world outside of my own comfort zone and country.

When my son left for boot camp after Thanksgiving, I had a strong feeling that I needed to DO something...something worthwhile. Not being sure what, I began to look around for some indication of what it was. But the feeling was very strong.

Of course, opportunity always knocks when you are open to it.

In early December, my friend, who runs Global Gallery in the Short North Arts District in Columbus (it's actually next to the gallery where I belong), asked me if I was interested in joining her group to help build an orphanage in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The hair stood up on the back of my neck and without asking her another question, I said "Why, yes, yes I would." Apparently, the number of orphans in Bolivia is steadily increasing and the current government funded facilities are extremely overloaded. Global Gallery, while doing amazing work as a fair market shop for 3rd world artisans and manufacturers, has also been raising money and making sizable donations to build this private orphanage. Of course, I wanted to help.

After finally talking to my friend, I had an idea to load up a suitcase and bring some basic art supplies to the kids at the orphanage (they are already housing a few) and for the local village kids. What fun now! My friend informed me that most of the kids have very, very little and a box of crayons would be such a gift. As an artist who grew up with crayons in my fists, and still enjoys coloring, it's hard to imagine a child without those simple basic things!

But there's more: my little guy gabbed onto this and took it upon himself to write a speech about this which he read in front of the entire school! (He's in fourth grade. Can you hear the pride in my voice?) They collected a box of kid-friendly art supplies and raised $700 to boot! (His teacher is phenomenal and really ran with this!) The kids made and sold chocolate suckers for Valentine's Day.) My guess is that the kids at his school had a hard time imagining what a life devoid of crayons must be like.

This will not be a pleasure trip - no sirree! Our packing list is short and limited. We have been told that we should expect to be dirty a lot. Hair and makeup are not in the equation. (But, doesn't that sound like a relief?!)

However, I plan to be open to whatever this experience brings; I have a sense that I'm in for some directional changes (or corrections) in my life. And that's a very good thing. I am going where I'm needed right now; I believe that completely. My husband is a great dad and will take good care of the fort and the residents while I'm gone - the two- and four-legged alike.

Of course, as soon as I'm back and rested for a day or two, expect to see and read a lot about this trip. I'm taking a small sketch book, a camera with several memory cards and a diary, so of course, I'm hoping some new art emerges as well.

If you'd like to help, you can donate directly to Global Gallery, there's a link on their website.
Adios! (I expect that my two years of high school Spanish will just leap back into my brain upon landing in Bolivia, too! Wish me luck on that, I may be drawing a lot just to communicate.)


Bethd said...

Hi Rhonda. I saw you had a blog through Megan's myspace and I had to check it out. I cannot believe how amazing your work is. I'm blown away. I'm also blown away that Ian is a soldier and Megan is a mother. It sounds as though life is treating you all well.
It is so inspiring to see your artwork and also that you are taking an interest in the world outside your comfort zone. Goood luck to you in Bolivia.

Love, Beth Denman (Dearbaugh)

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Serena said...

Rhonda, I'm sure you will have an amazing experience in Bolivia! I wish I were going with you. I welled up with tears when I read how the school got behind the cause too. I can hardly wait for you to get back and share some of your experiences with us. Wishing you a safe return home.

Serena :)

Cindy said...

How exciting Rhonda! I am looking forward to reading your accounting of the trip, and seeing your pictures. It's amazing how this opportunity came your way.

This piece that you have posted is absolutely wonderful....such glowing color.