Sunday, March 22, 2009

Back from South America

8 x 10" oil painting on canvas
I just returned from Cochabamba and LaPaz, Bolivia, and am still mentally processing the trip. Even though this was the second time I had travelled to Bolivia to do work on an orphanage project, it's still a difficult mental voyage as well. Such poverty and beauty in the same setting can never make sense.
Our group worked hard this year on projects such as sanding, painting, staining, laying sewer pipe, laying tile and a lot of back breaking clean-up. We all tapped into old and new skills to reach our goals.
One of our best days was when we were able to invite the local village families to come to the orphanage home and receive some gifts from us. At the same time we completed a simple census to count the children in the area. My job was to photograph each an every child, which I was happy to do. We counted and I photographed 112 children ranging from teenagers to a newborn 4 days old and still without a name.
Every day, while we worked, many of these children would come to the orphanage site and hang out to watch the gringos work, many of them white women, at that! Unheard of of in their world and, to watch their faces, was also extremely funny to most of them. But we made time for all of them, played with them, hugged them, held them and they stole our hearts.
These children live in such extreme poverty that a used pair of shoes is equal to the best Christmas present. They were so happy with their new gifts; what a joy to be a giver of goods!
My painting in progress above is of a little girl named Elizabeth who wore her traditional clothing every day and who easily won us all over.
I guess my way of processing and reliving my journeys to Bolivia are best done through my art. I'm sure you will see more work inspired by my trip to the southern hemisphere.


Marsha Robinett said...

Welcome must be pleasantly both exhausted and fulfilled at the same time. What a wonderful thing you and your group did. I look forward to hearing more.

Your portrait is progressing nicely. What a beautiful little girl. I can feel the suffering in her face even at this point in the painting. Thanks for sharing.

Rhonda Bartoe Tucker said...

Thank you Marsha!