A child helps paint a colorful mural on the wall of the Lois and Thomas J . White Community Center

Children make their artistic mark on local community cetner.

Colorful posters, perfectly completed homework assignments, and popsicle-stick picture frames fill the inside walls of the Lois and Tomas J. White Community Center in Carabayllo, Peru. The community's children lovingly provided these works of art, so when it came time for the center to get a facelift, the kids eagerly moved their creativity to the outside walls.

Staff of PIH's partner organization in Peru, Socios En Salud (SES) and members of the Carabayllo community recruited the help of three professional local graffiti artists to transform the artwork and imagination of the neighborhood children into a vibrant mural along the center’s exterior. The three artists visited the center and gathered drawings from the children by posing the question “How do you imagine your community in the future?” They used the drawings as a basis for the design of the mural, then began painting a general outline of the mural on the walls while listening to instructions and excited commands of the true artists—the kids themselves. Participants of the SES afterschool education programs then grabbed smocks and paintbrushes, eager to finish filling in the outline and put their own mark on the wall – filling in a landscape of smiles, friendship and messages of peace to welcome visitors.

 

Professional artists were recruited to help translate the children's vision onto the walls of the community center.

 
 

Children painted the outline sketched by the professional artists, adding in their own artistic flair.

 

The mural, completed in the beginning of December, is the latest addition to the Lois and Thomas White center, following the 2008 inauguration of the community library. The center serves the surrounding community as a small rural health center and pharmacy, afterschool learning center, and general community space operated by SES staff and local health promoters.

 

SES’s commitment to comprehensive health care includes a strong children’s health program, Salud Infantil, which provides consistent medical check-ups and home visits, educational support and socio-economic assistance to families. All too often in poverty-stricken communities like this shantytown in Carabayllo, childhood is abandoned early for meager wages made on the street or in other informal work. The educational programs sponsored by SES attempt to return the creativity and energy to the community’s children while reinforcing high achievement in school.

Walking past the mural and through the doors of “Lois and Thomas,” as it’s affectionately known, kids can proudly point to their individual contributions. Seeing their artwork valued and hard work acknowledged the kids learn to feel confidence in themselves, inside and out.

 

[posted June 2008]

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